How Picnics Preserve Culture

Photo by Eden H

Growing up in Ghana, picnics were not something that my family and I actively participated. We didn’t have large parks where families got together and we usually just did any form of hosting at home. However, this all changed when I moved to North America. Whether in North Carolina or in Toronto, every summer, various Ghanaian communities, mainly Ghanaian churches, will get together and throw a picnic at a large park. Usually, these picnics were dead in the middle of summer and sometimes on one of the hottest days. Regardless of the heat, hundreds of Ghanaians will still flood the park for a good time. Food was communal so the church will order Ghanaian food and people will bring their co-pots, pans and even the mortar and pestle we use to pound fufu, a plantain and cassava-based swallow. At the picnic table you will find soft drinks, especially Malta (a Ghanaian favourite), hibiscus drink, jollof rice, waakye, kebab, fried plantains and even some of our soups and stews that go with corn/plantain/cassava based swallows. Aside from food provided, some of the aunties will be frying lots of finger foods; they will have kelewele (spicy plantain chops) frying, bofrot/puff (our version of beignets) and a variety of fried snacks going across the park. With all the food and merriment, there is loud music playing, specifically old school Ghanaina Afrobeats music by Daddy Lumba or Amakye Dede (classic Ghanaian artists)

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For many Ghanaians living in the diaspora, busy work schedules and a different way of life usually means less time during the weekend to socialize. So, summer picnics are really the best opportunity for many Ghanaians to come together, eat our own food, speak our language and have a good time. For my family, especially my parents, it’s an opportunity to still immerse themselves in their home a culture, a culture they had to leave behind for better opportunities here in Canada. They can speak our language without feeling on the outside and continue to build friendships with other Ghanaians. For me, it is an opportunity to continue to hold on to some of my culture and meet more Ghanaians. Unfortunately, with coronavirus, we will not be able to continue this tradition this year but this makes next year’s picnic event even better

Get Afia’s Sobolo recipe here.

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