ACCRA-GHANA- Much of what we see on television about Africa is a land of poverty and starving children. But there is more to the country than that. To find out more about Ghana I met with the Mayor of the capital city of Accra, Alfred Vanderpuije.
"There are people who thought that we live in trees. There were people who thought that we didn't have streets or houses and we didn't drive cars. People have misconceptions but today the world is becoming smaller. It is becoming a global village, " Alfred Vanderpuije said.
The city of Accra is growing with a population of over 2 million people. Mayor Vanderpuije says they are making strides every day to make Ghana a better place to live.
"We want people to come to Accra to live in it and to love it. That is our pledge. So that business will do well, our children will have good schools, and our traders will have good place to trade. We work hard every day to make Accra a good city and we would like people to visit and come and see the culture meet the people engage in market activities, engage in business, and just enjoy the city of Accra, " he said.
One way the government hopes to improve Ghana's economy is by bringing in new businesses.
"We want to make sure that we are undertaking infrastructural development. In terms of railway lines, roads, building new schools, improving our hospitals, and making sure that healthcare and health services reach the people. His excellency the president has a high agenda and a high expectation for our sitting mayors to the extent that we are meeting with international communities, " he said.
"You recently came back from a visit with president obama. What was that like?" Rita asked.
"The meeting between the two presidents was great. They talked about their challenges and they spoke about how they have overcome their challenges. They are looking forward to re-election. Ghana has a very tight relationship with the United States and we hope that relationship continues to grow from strength to strength, " he said.
President John Atta Mills was elected in 2009. With the election coming up this December a rally was held for the National Democratic Congress to ensure that everyone was registered to vote. The entire city was joyful with dancing and cheers. The highlight of the rally was when president Mills passed by to thank his supporters.
Mayor Vanderpuije says love of country and love of family is a theme in their communities. Many of the families work together to help each other and people they don't even know. For instance my aunt Edith and her daughter like other African families, give sacrifice rice to the local children. It's a gesture that they hope shows that you don't have to know people to show kindness. They hope their example will encourage other people to give back to their community in any way they can.
Food is very important in the African culture often taking a long to prepare. You can see my friend Jennifer cooking outside which is where most of the food is made. Many dishes are meat, vegetable, rice or flour based. As you can see, it requires a lot of strength to make. Well, when I decided to give it a try, let's just say I wasn't as strong as I thought.
The last portion of my trip was the celebration of my cousin Florence's 50th birthday. Family and friends gathered for a party in her honor to celebrate her life and to wish her well. What I have taken away from this trip is that although my family and I are seemingly a world apart the family bond is strong enough to reach across the ocean. People of any race or culture typically desire the same things in life; happiness, freedom, family, good friends, and a community that they can be proud of.
This journey to Africa has taught me the importance spending time with the people that mean the most before it's too late. After an experience like this, it was hard to go but I knew it was to leave the land of my father and head back to the states. I came back to Texoma with a renewed energy for life. I now realize that each day is an adventure and if we take the time to embrace life's journey and experience new things we will learn from all those who cross our path. From Accra Ghana. Rita Kotey First News.