“I’m Tarek Mouganie, I’m fourth generation Ghanaian, ethnically Lebanese – I have Orthodox/Catholic parents – but I have been living in the UK for 18 years. Yes, I have three nationalities”.
Not quite a staycation but my family decided to take a trip to spend quality time together. We picked a little eco resort close to the Ivory Coast boarder of Ghana next to a town called Axim; I joined them a day after they left by taking a 20 minute internal flight to Takoradi where I was picked up by my brothers.
Upon arrival, I made the short 5 meter walk from the plane to pick up my bag and exit the airport. I flashed my ID to the immigration officer and he waved me through. “Wait. Stop!” Someone yelled from the back of the office. Here we go.
“Where are you from?”. It took a while for me to realise, amongst all the eyes staring at me, who was speaking to me. It was the head of immigration. “Ghana”, I responded irritatingly. My usual spiel was useless. Everything I said to him was thrown back at me. I am not black and he has never heard of a Ghanaian person with the surname “Mouganie”.
So I waited in the air-conditioned room as he investigated.
As I waited, I got angrier and angrier. I got angry at not being able to answer a simple question. I got angry at the ignorance of being accepted as a British citizen with black skin and not as a Ghanaian citizen with white skin. I got angry for not fitting in. Not fitting in here in Ghana or in Lebanon or in Britain.
My brothers entered and started chatting to the immigration officers. They spoke in Twi, a local language, and argued with them extensively. After a flurry of exchanges and aggressive gesticulating, smiles broke out. My brothers were in their element as, unlike me, they moved back to Ghana after university and this was now their home.
The ordeal was over after a couple of hours as I had a scanned copy of my passport emailed to me. Soon enough, we were driving to the beach to have lunch with our parents.
My anger subsided and I began to think about being a third culture kid. England suits my socially liberal side, Ghana will always be my childhood home, a place I can come to to decompress and regroup. And Lebanon will always give me hope. Hope passed onto me by my parents, a sense of nostalgia, visiting a land that I know the least amongst my nationalities yet speak the language, eat the food, know its culture and idiosyncrasies.
I guess I have no home and for that, I should be grateful. Because everywhere I seem to land, has a smattering of home. I am the luckiest man alive.