We are somewhere over the Atlantic on the way back to Boston via New York, from Ghana--the "Warrior King". The trip was transformative. The 25 or so students who participated in the class were welcomed in Ghana by friends, family, high level officials, pioneering and established businesses, and MIT alumni. We toured much of the Accra metropolitan area, as well as Kumasi. All of these exposures--economic, cultural, historical, political--started to reveal a country that moved me although I don't exactly know why.
A formal, for-credit class at Sloan, the special seminar prepared us for the trip through a series of lectures and activities. The first session shook out my assumptions about the African continent--primarily that it is a primitive and homogeneous place.
Ghana is a diverse country. There are many tribes, traditions and languages spoken. The wide gap in the standard of living between the poor and the middle class, and between the middle class and the ruling class is hard to ignore. Likewise, a walk through the market in Accra, and several company visits showed us a similar spread in the world of commerce and trade. However, regardless of the situation--whether we were at a university or in a government building, a new start-up or a large manufacturing plant, we were always welcomed with an unusual warmth.
We are all reflective on the plane and I'm sad to leave. Aside from a great introduction to a stable and developing country, the trip was a nice chance to get to know other Sloanies, and to uncover, in such a diverse setting, some of our surprising commonalities.