Friday, September 7, 2007

Airborne once again!

Janet and I have both done interviews on CBC Radio since we've been back. Mine was yesterday morning; Janet did hers way back in July. For those of you who didn't get a chance to hear them, you can find both online at

Mark (Sept. 6):
Janet (July 19):

You can also click on the links in the menu on the left side of the page. You need a program like Real Audio (available free online) to listen to them.

If you get a chance to listen to them, let us know what you think!

- Mark

Sunday, September 2, 2007


I stayed overnight at the Liberian refugee camp on one of my last nights in Ghana, and watched “Refugee All Stars” on a big screen in an outdoor courtyard. “Refugee All Stars" is a documentary about refugees from war-torn Sierra Leone who formed a band on their camp in Guinea, which borders Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa.

It was an emotional experience watching this film with my friends from the camp. I see documentaries like this at home, but it’s usually with people like me who empathize but can’t personally relate to the subject matter. The Liberians connected on a very personal level to the experience of the “Refugee All Stars.” They felt the pain of exile from their homeland; they also felt that their newspaper “The Vision” inspired and entertained Liberian refugees in the same as the "Refugee All Stars" gave to a lift to people from Sierra Leone.

The “Refugee All Stars” have now gone home to Sierra Leone, however; “The Vision” and the people who publish it are still in Ghana, though they plan to take the paper to Liberia as early as December.

The Liberians are an articulate and passionate group, and they feel comfortable expressing themselves in front of a crowd. A few of them spoke to the group about their perceptions of the film once it was over. Joseph, an editor with the paper, addressed the question that’s on everyone’s mind: when do they return home to Liberia?

“We’ve have been in exile too long,” he said. “It’s time to go home.”

We tend to think of Africans as eager to immigrate to places like Canada, because life is so difficult in a lot of African countries. And in truth many people do long to get out, but many more want to stay home, or return home in the case of the Liberians.

A few months ago, I met a taxi driver who was very upset that Ghanaians had a hard time getting tourist visas to Canada. The Canadian government is very reluctant to issue visas, especially to young single men, because it suspects - and rightly so in many cases – that they will stay in Canada and not return home to Ghana.

This infuriated our driver because he wanted to visit Canada one day, and he was insulted by the suggestion that he would not want to return home to Ghana. “You can’t take me away from Ghana anymore than you can remove salt from the sea,” he said.

I agreed and told him it was the same for me, though I came from the other, colder side of the Atlantic.

I will miss Ghana because it has become a home of sorts to me, much like India, Halifax and Toronto, other places I have lived for short and long periods. But after seven months in a self-imposed exile, the Bay of Fundy beckons me. It’s time to go home.

- Mark