Akosua Busia¬†has an incredibly impressive resume‚Äîshe is an award-winning poet, songwriter, actress, author, filmmaker, a daughter of Ghana (of Ghana‚Äôs second prime minister, as a matter of fact)‚Äîand happens to be the sister of Semester at Sea Faculty Member Abena Busia of Rutgers University.
Now, she can add Interport Lecturer for Semester at Sea to her already stunning list of accomplishments, though it is the rest of the Fall 2017 Voyage that truly benefited from having her onboard from embarkation day to the end of the MV World Odyssey‚Äôs stay in Ghana.
Together with her sister Abena, Akosua spent the first two weeks of the Fall 2017 Voyage in high demand as a guest lecturer during classes and during downtime around the ship, because not only is Akosua a provocative and entertaining storyteller, but her knowledge and understanding of Ghana gave students a personal window into the country they are about to start exploring.
‚ÄúConversations with the students about Ghana have been really fabulous because they have very open minds and also because there are tutors on board who have very specific classes,‚Äù Akosua said. ‚ÄúWhat‚Äôs been nice is we‚Äôve touched on different areas. So students will be specific within their study because when you talk of a country, generally it‚Äôs huge as the river is wide.‚Äù
Fall 2017 will spend four days in Ghana‚Äîtwo docked in Tema, close to Accra, and two days in Takoradi. Akosua will then disembark the ship, but before that she will join Semester at Sea Voyagers on different field programs and classes throughout their time in port, starting with Professor Janet Schofield‚Äôs Field Class in which students will meet young women from Ghana and learn about female reproductive health.
‚ÄúShe [Janet] wanted her students to interact with other youth from Ghana. So the students basically will be meeting their counterparts and exchanging experiences,‚Äù Akosua said. ‚ÄúAnd then also I know someone who is leading one to go to El Nina Castle, which is one of the large and well-known slave castles, and also an El Nina fishing village. Slave castles are such a huge part of the history and the modern history of Ghana. The dungeons are still there, the mess quarters are still there, the cannons are still there. A lot of people think of a slave castle as just keeping in the slaves. But these were massive wars.‚Äù
The type of insight and perspective that only someone as steeped in the history and culture of Ghana can provide has been invaluable for students throughout the voyage. Akosua and her sister have given lectures on their father, the second prime minister of Ghana, as well as Ghana’s long quest towards a peaceful democracy. Most importantly, she has been able to broaden student’s preconceived notions about Ghana before they set foot in-country by explaining how vast, complicated, and welcoming Ghana can be.
“I think that for a lot of students they tend to generalize it as part of what people think of as ‘Africa’,” said Ahmad Kazi, a student from New Orleans, LA. “But having people who are from there, lived there, understand the culture and the dynamics that come from being from either the north or south of Ghana, they were able to depict a more realistic version of what we’ll actually be experiencing, in a good way.”
As the MV World Odyssey neared Ghana, Busia explained that if she hoped voyagers gained one thing from speaking with her it was, “the desire to come back, and I don’t say that lightly.”
“I hope that they will take away the destruction of preconceived notions that we all have with a country,” Busia said. “And they‚Äôll get the opportunity to see it for real, the high and the low, the good and the bad, not just one depiction.”