Unlocking Memories: Peggy Owusu-Ansah (C’23) travels to Ghana

Derby Carlson   
Features Editor

Peggy Owusu-Ansah (C ‘23), over winter break, visited Ghana for two weeks. Her entire family migrated to Virginia in 1997, a year after the birth of her older sister. While the rest of her direct family still lives in Ghana the last time that Owusu-Ansah visited was 2006, when she was five.  

Despite Owusu-Ansah and her family planning this trip since last February, they had complications all the way up to their departure from visa troubles, flight cancellations, and the rising Omicron variant. Yet, her family eventually arrived. This was the first time she’s seen most of her extended family in person since 2006. 

“It’s kind of trippy,” said Owusu-Ansah, expressing her shock about the passing of time. When her family last visited Ghana, her cousins were 9, 11, and 12. “It’s like we were playing and now we’re all in school. We have jobs. Some of them have kids. It’s just… like, 15 years changes a lot.”

She spoke about how he global rise of technology has changed Ghana.

“Like, when I first got there, my cousins were playing Super Mario Bros on a Sega 96. Now, kids have tablets,” said Owusu-Ansah. “My niece, she’s three, and she can speak two languages fluently. Having that digital connection has changed a lot in a lot of places. It makes it easier to connect, especially with gobal communication moving from Skype to WhatsApp.”

In 2006, the family returned to Ghana for 40 days to attend a funeral. On this trip, Owusu-Ansah got to visit her 97-year-old Grandmother, of which she shares the name: Amokwanwa. (A fitting name as its meaning is someone who is meant to travel.) But, when the Owusu-Ansah family first see heir grandmother after the long hiatus, she says: “I mean, they’re pretty girls. Who are they?” 

Owusu-Ansah spoke of her own memories with her grandmother, having lived with the Owusu-Ansah family for a year in Virginia before returning to Ghana.

“A lot of my early memories are with her. She’s the one who taught me to walk; my parents said that once she did I was like her shadow and did everything with her,” said Owusu-Ansah. Upon taking in their presence, “She just started praising God, like, ‘Thank you, God. It’s been 15 years. He’s let me live long enough for my grandchildren to come.’”

While her family stayed with her mother’s side of the family during their time in Akobima and and her father’s in Accra, they also stayed a few nights at her parents’ house in Sunyani. The building process for the house started around 2002 and finished three years ago, around 2019. Once her parents retire, they plan on returning to Ghana. 

“The plan was never to stay in America when my parents entered and eventually got their green card,” said Owusu-Ansah. “This was like a trial run.” 

“I remember fifteen years ago when I saw just the ground framings of the house. The smell of clay in the air and the feeling of joy in our hearts,” said Owusu-Ansah. “Here in the states I shared a room with bth of my sisters but here in the home of my parents, I had my own room which was very enticing to a five year old.”

When Owusu-Ansah asked her mother why she decided to migrate, she responded that she wanted something different for her children. 

“She was like ‘I would have gone anywhere. Just because I wanted you to have something different. If the visa lottery was for France, I would have gone for France first,’” said Owusu-Ansah, stressing that her mother simply loves Ghana. “There’s nothing wrong with Ghana. It’s perfect, it’s my home.” 

She stressed that while the idolization of the West exists, she does not know anyone in her extended family planning on staying permanently. 

“More people realize the empowerment of where they come from,” said Owusu-Ansah. “Like this idea that you have to go to the West to be successful… It’s just not true.” 

When talking to a cousin about living in America and about finding everything in Ghana so interesting, the cousin said, “Peggy, of course you find Ghana so intesresting, you don’t live here.” While Owusu-Ansah does not see herself moving to Ghana full-time in the future, she does see herself having a house and potentially getting dual citizenship in order to see her family more in the future.  

“I loved my time there,” Owusu-Ansah said, expressing her fondness for the trip. “I don’t regret any of it. So, I’m really glad. My motto this entire trip when I saw anyone was ‘Don’t worry I’ll be back, and it won’t take fifteen years this time.”

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