Phaedra Parks

Phaedra talks about her first trip to Africa.

on Feb 24, 2012

Based on all the comments and emails I have received regarding our trip to Africa, it appears that our voyage has really inspired many people to either travel to the continent or establish some type of connection with it through charitable means or some other type of positive action. I cannot begin to tell you how excited that makes me. My first trip to Africa was truly a life-changing experience. It came about after working with editor and literary consultant, Meri Danquah, who is from Ghana. Through that relationship and work with a mutual client, Meri and I became good friends, and she invited me to join her during her next visit to Ghana, and I happily obliged. I had always dreamed of visiting Africa, and finally my moment had arrived.

When we hear about tourism in Africa, South Africa is usually the most touted destination. However, Meri was a native of Ghana, and historically Ghana is very fascinating. It was the first black African country to gain its independence in 1957 and is considered the gateway to the continent. After researching the country, my interest was quickly peaked. Since I visited Ghana with a native Ghanaian, I did not have a regular tourist experience. I was able to see the country from her vantage point which was most decadent. I had the pleasure of touring the same slave castle that President Obama and the first family toured when they visited Ghana. I also went to Kakum National Park and braved the suspended 131 feet high canopy walkway, which was scary yet empowering. These experiences gave me a glimpse of what my forefathers endured centuries ago.

While the landmarks we visited where captivating, the travel books always say that it is the people that make Ghana such a special place. I found that to be true. I was able to hobnob with many intriguing people, like Anna Bossman, who was the head of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Atukwei Okai, who runs the Pan-African Writers Association, and John Dramani Mahama, who was a Member of Parliament back then and is currently the Vice President. Meri’s cousin, Joe Ofori-Atta, who is part of the Akyem royal family, took me around and introduced me to numerous dignitaries. I met the Okyenhene, king of the Akyem Abuakwa kingdom and interacted with one of the presidential candidates, Nana Akufo-Addo, who shared with me that he had a daughter that was also named Phaedra.