By Ariyana Griffin,
Special to the AFRO

In Los Angeles, where I am originally from, we have a small subsection called Leimert Park Village – aka Africatown. The pavement is engraved with Adinkra symbols. African drum sessions take over the streets and Black owned businesses occupy the buildings. It is a place where we can gather, commune, learn about different cultures within the African Diaspora and connect with others. Besides books and movies, Leimert Park had been my only connection to Africa. 

After months of meetings and preparation the time had finally come for my first ever trip to Africa. Over 20 Morgan State faculty and students set off to embark on an amazing study abroad trip to Ghana to explore their education system.

We met at the Dulles Airport, and awaited to board our 10 hour flight. The plane ride was extremely smooth, but I was too excited to sleep well and anticipated the moment we would finally land in Africa. 

Upon landing, we were greeted with smiles and welcomed at Customs. Once we exited the airport, we were hit with a gust of wind full of dry, hot air. We had finally made it to the Motherland.

Ariyana Griffin

Here, the busy streets were filled with men, women and children selling everything from food to laundry detergent. Many women carried baskets on their heads full of goods. I was amazed by their ability to balance the baskets while navigating the sun drenched streets and their strong work ethic. Our caravan’s first stop was the Accra Mall. It was very similar to our malls in the United States with restaurants and stores like KFC and Pandora but also had various local businesses inside with products unique to Ghana. I stopped by a sit down restaurant and tried beef fried noodles.

After lunch, we walked around and explored before heading to our hotel. Some university students signed up to get their hair braided by local hairdressers, while others began to unwind for a while before dinner. 

I’Jae Webb gets her hair braided on her first day in Ghana.

When asked why Webb wanted her hair braided in Ghana she said she wanted to “give back to the community  and to be more acquainted with the locals and their services.”

We met our tour guides at a restaurant so we could try native food. My order of bean stew with fish, plantains and banku looked like a small feast. I loved this first time  experience because we were able to eat fragrant meals with our hands.

Following our delicious meal, we had a great conversation and many shared laughs about the day’s festivities. Full and happy, we headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest and prepared for day two. 

We’ll see what tomorrow brings….

This month, Morgan State University student Ariyana Griffin travels to Ghana with other scholars from the historically Black institution. As an AFRO Intern, she will be giving regular updates from her trip to the Motherland.