Coronavirus. That’s all that is in the news (and on everyone’s minds) these days. It is no longer just a “Chinese virus” or an Italian issue or a problem for the poor countries, those with fragile health systems. Unlike humans, coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is unbiased. It’s an equal-opportunity giver that has traveled more distance and spread faster than any of our wildest imaginations could have fathomed. And while COVID-19 continues to travel far and wide with no end in sight, it has produced the reverse effect on humankind. As city after city heads into lock-down and country after country closes their borders, we are eminently changing the very notion of what travel and freedom mean to humans all over the world.
“Akwaaba!”, a stranger shouts to me, with a big grin, waving to me as I walk by on the streets. “Welcome! You are welcome”, he says to me.
After four weeks of living in Ghana, I’ve become accustomed to being greeted in this way from familiar faces and strangers alike. ‘Akwaaba’ is the Akan word for “Welcome” and has become the symbol for expressing Ghanaian hospitality and friendliness, especially towards foreign guests.
Ghana is indeed a friendly country. It certainly is the friendliest country that I’ve been to and I’ve been to over 80 countries! The people of Ghana are warm, welcoming, and trusting — even with strangers. Something that I’m still adjusting to having come from a western culture (New York City no less, where your ability to ignore others is a benchmark of being a true city resident).