It is June when I send Carole a message: “How do you feel about me visiting you in Ghana?” Her short and great answer is: “Superb”. And so it happens that I embark on a wonderful journey (on joy) to Ghana.
I leave early in the morning to fly from Cape Town airport to Johannesburg and then to Accra. After one night in Accra I hop onto a small plane to get to Tamale, in the northern part of Ghana. It is up there where we meet again. After two years. This time in her part of Africa. For the coming 8 days I will be part of her life. I will be able to see Ghana through her eyes and meet the people she loves so much.
For me it is quite a (culture) shock. It is hot and humid. My fingers and feet are swollen (and will remain so for the following five days…). My nights are restless – as it is still 28C at night and I just left home, where I slept with a hot water bottle and three blankets to keep myself warm ;-). The showers refreshingly cool. The surroundings rural. The traffic chaotic. The people I meet absolutely amazing.
Especially those people I interview about joy. Carole has selected some amazing people for me to meet. Truly beautiful souls. The interviews are wonderfully enriching experiences. For all of us. The deep connection these people feel with their inner joy is magical. It gives hope. It shows that change is about to happen. It shows me once more that Africa is the new world. The Ubuntu-principle of ‘I am because you are’ is tangible. I feel humble and grateful in meeting these wise and beautiful Ghanaian change leaders.
In Tamale I follow Carole like a shadow so that I can see life through her eyes. And so it happens that I am part of the launch of a new TV program on NTV, Northern Ghana TV. That I meet chiefs, ancestor-whisperers, more change leaders, and her wonderful fruit-lady. That we go to a local theatre show (absolutely brilliant). That we hop from shared taxi onto yellow-yellows to cross town. And that I get to taste the most delicious local food, varying from Jollof rice to baked tigernuts to fried yam with peanut butter powder (not really of course, but that is the best description I could come up with).
I discover how different our lives are. In a way. That we all have our own approach to living life. And it also shows how similar we are. That we all have a desire to express ourselves, to share our unique talents, and to experience joy. If we dare to.
I think about the red bird that I saw every single morning in Ghana. A bright red bird that dared to show me its amazing colours. Every single day. Cindy Lauper’s song “Show me your true colours” got stuck in my head. It is exactly what we may do: show our true colours. Be who we are. Share our gifts and talents with the world. In our way. Because it is only in daring to do so that we can make a difference and touch other people’s life and soul. Simply by who we are.
And that is what my interviews on joy showed me. That it is my way of connecting to the hearts of other people. My way to truly listen. To create the space for people to connect to their inner joy. And wow, wow, wow, what a beauty I was shown up there in Ghana. I learned that if I take my space, I create space for others. And therewith magic happens, hidden treasures come to the surface and true connections are created.
Thank you Carole for saying ‘yes’ to my question and showing me your Africa and mirroring me who I truly am! And thank you Ghana for sharing your beauty, wisdom and connectedness with me.