Exchange 1: Oakland to Ghana

Oakland to Ghana

“…we were blind with joy at the feeling of homecoming. In Ghana, there is growing awareness among local people that African Americans have traceable lineage to Africa, but I heard the term “obroni” whispered as we walked by. It cannot be denied that our bodies held both a race and a nationality…Our walks, speaking tones, and accents make us uniquely African American in the USA; ironically, these traits made us both African American and foreign in Ghana.”

— Karla Brundage

Roll Call

Azi Edoua and Mimi Tempestt

Crystal Tettey and Wild-Flower Brashear

Emmanuel Akambo, JR and Adeshima (Marcus Lorenzo Penn)

Jewell King-Speaks and Tyrice Deane Brown

Mariska Araba Taylor-Darko and Wanda Sabir

Nathaniel Tetteh Ogli and Radhiyah Ayobami

Nathaniel Tetteh Ogli and Xiomara

Obi and Makeda (Sandra Hooper Mayfield)

Sir Black (Yibor Kojo Yibor) and Karla Brundage

WhoIsDeydzi (Dodzi Korsi Aveh) and Tamaris

Wordrite (Joseph Chief Korgan) and Zakiyyah G.E. Capehart

Xorlali (Nora Anyidoho) and Sara Biel

Z. Afua (Woé, Woédem Afua Parku) and Imani Todd

“We are poets crossing the Atlantic to compete in a Poetry Slam and cultural exchange in Ghana that culminates a yearlong Pan-African poetry writing workshop. Our ages are 21-65. Our sexualities, genders and racial identities vary. Our life experiences, socio-economic classes, and upbringings are diverse, but we are mostly Black Americans. 

I am the leader of this group that has committed to writing linked poetry with exchange partners in the West African countries of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. We will join with Ehalakasa, our associate group that is headquartered in the city of Accra in Ghana. We will meet Sir Black and our other Ghanaian partner poets, who range from ages 18-63. Mostly they are students at the University of Ghana, Lagon in Accra.”

— Karla Brundage

“But the most significant and difficult topic was the broken connection between African Americans and Africa, the Motherland. Perceptions–what are they? Those of us whose ancestors were enslaved in the crossing of the Middle Passage now belong to the Promised Land. Descendants of slaves are now blessed with blue passports adorned with golden eagles and acces to the freedom to travel. The lost and prodigal, once cast away, hope to return to open arms. Some perceive that the returnees want to reign as kings and queens.

What is this myth of the American Dream, and how will it play out in the minds of the Africans we meet: Concurrently, what is the African Dream held so dear in the minds of Black people of the diaspora, many of whom have been homeless too long? Do we shoulder the heavy burden of racism as our inheritance? Where is home?”

— Karla Brundage

Featured Poems

Fat Tuesday

by Makeda

We went to Nana house 

for Catholic Friday fish and fries,

coleslaw, pound cake

scrumptious, icebox lemon pies.

But my favorite day was Tuesday

when those who were able

could hear my Daddy making love

to Mama at the dining table.

He made love creative

like fairy tales and fables to describe 

how good Mama’s food was 

to those who sat around the table.

Visitors would smile and blush

even Auntie Mable…


by Xiomara

I am we

a piece of the whole

the collective essence of life.

We are the roar of the sea

smashing against the cliffside

or the salt left behind in the grains of sand

sweet sugar mango glowing

as it drops into eager hands

mouths hungry for its nectar 

the sun beating down on a dirt road

while heat waves dance in the distance

the earth that quakes in summer time

or the pulse of once-still waters.