I had to go through numerous pictures to find one that embodied homeland for me in some poetic capacity. Several hours later I came back to this particular one, because of its simplicity and motion, instead of a more staged picture.
In this picture, taken in Mateheko a suburb of Tema in Ghana, West Africa, a group of young boys push a load of cement. The act of pushing cement would have been a usual arduous task by grown men to build a home, however these young boys seem delighted, happy as though the task is a mere fun job, a play date for them.
Cement obviously helps as the foundation in building homes and this particular brand of Cement is called Ghana Cement (Ghacem- the nation builder) and in its representation, here, shows patriotism and love of that which is our own, made in Ghana.
The reddish-brown sand seen here will be the usual problematic representation of “Africa” however, I see more than the sand, I see the young boys’ feet in rhythmic motion in the form of a dance, thanking the ancestors for having our land to ourselves. Land to ourselves, land to call home is most meaningful to countries that fought against colonialism to claim that which was always theirs, as Ghana did.
The young boys have clothes upon their body, slippers upon their feet- they are comfortable, they are in their homeland, a place that will always provide, one way or the other. The boys are engaged in a task that some would by default call child labour, because the boys are in Africa; but this is no child labour, these are active boys, wanting to be of assistance, wanting to help build, having fun, laughter upon their faces as they push the cement forward and away. My favourite part about this picture is the peace sign one of the boys does as they push away into the distance.
With homeland, I am easily convinced, it is about being in a place that brings you the most joy, where your heart and feet are closest to home, where there is support, where there is leadership, where there is purpose, where there is gratitude, where there is movement, where there is guidance, where there are challenges but also perseverance, where there is strength in numbers, where there is a kind spirit that welcomes you.
Homeland is a place where there is always a seat for you at the table, where your feet touch the ground in homage to ancestors below who protect and hold land up for you to walk on. Homeland has no tribal marks, no ethnic lines, no specific national colour of the skin, no language barrier, no racial prejudice, no religious intolerance, except the intrinsic distinguishing piece and peace of belonging, being welcomed, being loved because you matter.
When I think of Homeland, this picture will always remind me that my Homeland, Ghana, is on a mission, pushing forward together in hope, to light, to thriving, to surviving, to living, to dancing, to breathing, to peace, to love, to being cherished and to doing something great so the next generation, also has a place called home, always.