A Portrait of Jamestown
The moment the plane landed, it was clear I was in a country not my own. The Ghanaian air was thick with heat, humidity and the possibility of malaria. The language was English, but it was foreign…heavily accented by a melodious lilt and peppered with the tribal language of Twi.
Living in a place for a year is different than visiting for a week or two. Soon what was so foreign felt like home- only no home I had ever known. What I didn’t expect was to fall in love. It was inevitable:
Ghana is intoxicating, exciting, exhausting, frustrating, and yet, oh so easy to love.
There is an old Ghanaian proverb that says:
Treat your guest as a guest for two days and on the third day give him a hoe.
So it wasn’t surprising when one day a local man asked what I was going to give to them. It was a fair question I was taking photographs, what was I going to give in exchange. It was my time to pick up a hoe. The poverty can be overwhelming, so much so, it’s easy to feel powerless to do anything about it. But there was one community so unforgettable, it was impossible to do nothing.
Jamestown is a fishing community on the Gulf of Guinea where the waters of the Korle Lagoon meet the sea. It is one of the oldest and poorest communities in the capital city of Accra. It’s a place that smells of sea salt and smoke. A place where hope is as thick as the humidity and as visible as the harmattan.
The citizens of Jamestown create a living and a life from what they harvest from the waters. It was in this community that I put down my camera and picked up a hoe. But the truth is the people of Jamestown gave me more than I could ever give in return. They taught me the importance of community, the power of optimism and the wisdom of living in the present.