Travel Diary: Ghana, Labadi Beach

During my stay in Accra, I wanted to check out Labadi Beach. I was excited about spending a pleasant Sunday afternoon at the popular spot. I arrived to find hordes of visitors and knew that it was not going to be the quiet time I had anticipated. Much more disappointing though were the piles of rubbish that greeted me, mostly plastic and styrofoam that had washed down from the city's gutters. I had seen those gutters brimming with garbage and grimaced out of concern about the impact of that non bio degradable waste. To then see such waste coursing into the ocean was too much. To see children playing on the beach and in the water amidst the detritus pulled at my heart. It felt like a blatantly cruel act against our planet and our children. Yet, so many adults were there seemingly enjoying the scenery, taking selfies, lounging beneath umbrellas...unbothered by the plastic bottles , wrappers, styrofoam containers scattered across the sand and being claimed by the sea. I felt confused about how such extensive pollution could be so accepted but I wondered if I was being self righteous and paternalistic.

When I travel, I prefer to focus on the best of the place I'm visiting. I strive to leave my biases, preconceived notions and judgements on the aiport tarmac. I am convinced that I gain more from the experience of travel this way. This is perhaps all the more so for the African continent. The belief that there are too often negative representations of African countries  dissuades me from harping on the less than pleasant aspects of life in those nations. I feel a desire to recap only the good and there is indeed always good. However, my recent journey to Accra led me to question whether there is harm in always  glossing over the ugly things I encounter. Although I ascribe to the concept of celebrating the positive things around me  so that more of those things will be manifested, I also believe that it is important to acknowledge the things I wish would change in this world. Yes, I may not be a citizen of Ghana and I should be sensitive to not impose paternalistic opinions but I am a citizen of this world and I care.

Whether it is watching Ghanaian children surrounded by the filthy, harmful refuse of human consumption or seeing the ocean take away that refuse and knowing that it will end up on the other side of the world, I feel affected. Consequently, I can't recount the beautiful aspects of my experience in Accra without addressing the things I hope will be better.Our children and their children deserve better.

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