On my flight from Ghana last night I sat next to this sweet and cute old African American lady.
She told me, “I like your braids. I wanted to get mine done too.”
"Mmm thanks," I smiled back and replied. I’m not really one to talk on flights, but she was so sweet, I had to be polite.
"I’ve seen a lot of girls on the flight got theirs done too. All looks so nice."
"Yeah, braids are more convenient to keep. Takes so long to get done though."
I was looking for a window of silence where I could close my eyes. No one wants to talk to someone who’s asleep. The silence didn’t come.
She went on to tell me about her hair while I smiled and nodded politely. Then she asked me if I lived in Ghana or America, whether I was in Ghana for holiday and so on. This lady was looking for a conversation so I asked her what she was doing in Ghana as well.
Turns out she was there for a project (I forget the name), but it has to do with teaching Ghanaian women how to make quilts so they can earn a living. Right idea, wrong means? You’re teaching women to be independent and help themselves, great! You’re teaching women in Ghana to do this by making quilts. I’m not too sure about that bit. For the past few weeks we’ve definitely had some colder nights, but have we reached quilt temperatures? Maybe I’m just hating and this could end up helping them, but I just don’t see how far making and selling quilts in a village can take you. Maybe now they know how to do things for themselves or know that they have the ability to take control of their lives. I figure they’ve gathered some sewing skills, if anything that’s sure to help.
If you’re teaching them to make quilts with adinkra symbols or something to sell as souvenirs to people in colder places who actually use quilts, that’s different (although one can say that has it’s own problems of culture appropriation), but they weren’t. They were simply teaching women in one of the countries closest to the equator how to make quilts. I just feel that if you’re going to travel all the way to come help these women, please use your time, money and resources to do something that will be beneficial to them in the long run.
The old lady was so sweet and polite. My window of silence had come. I said “oh that’s nice,” turned and closed my eyes.
Read Phoebe’s Interview with www.africandevelopmentjobs.com here:
Courtesy of (Ms) Nina Oduro, a former educational consultant at the EducationUSA Centre (Ghana) who I had the chance to connect with for only about two weeks, but have kept in touch with ever since.
Check out her amazingly resourceful blog: www.africandevjobs.com
My friend is amazing :)