Poem. Storytelling

Residence in Ghana to Perform, Explore, Reflect

By Richeline Joe

December 4, 2023


October 6 – October 21, 2023



It feels familiar, that’s for sure.

The people, the climate, the food.

At the same time: Ghana is unique, Ghana is Ghana!

Proudly reflected by the shiny black star,

Symbol of independence, of resilience.

With a lifestyle of Patience, Humbleness, Respect

and… why hurry, why rush?

Ghanaians are friendly, articulated,

The soil is so rich, so fertile, so giving.

The streets are filled, ongoing, 

With hard-working men and women

Selling their goods, earning some income

From early morning till late at night.

Accra: declared by UNESCO as the World Book Capital 2023.

Fostering opportunities for reading, writing, publishing.

Numerous expressions of arts, literature, culture, spiritualism, adinkra’s,

Side by side, all over Accra, inspiring us and each other.

Accra:  Shopping facilities in a wide variety:

Modern malls, traditional markets, street sale, curb sale, kayayei.

Transportation readily available, to take us anywhere, any time.

By either uber, yango, taxi, trotro, car, private busses.

Accra: Few have much, some have some, many are less privileged.

They all live close to each other yet separated.

State-of-the-art buildings, apartments for sale, construction in progress.

Right before the eyes of the large group in their modest homes.

Police are visibly present all over the place.

Providing a sense of security and peace.

My African ancestors were all around me while in Ghana.

It felt good to mingle with their descendants in Africa,

My new friends, my family to an unknown extent.

The ancestral voices are reaching out to us, the people of Curaçao and Ghana,

They show us new opportunities to relate, to exchange, to share.

Pa Gya 2023, Wintertuin Curaçao 2023:

Solid first steps in our literary reconnection journey.

More steps will follow. Together. Poko poko pero sigur!  Nkakra nkakra!



Some of my childhood memories in Curaçao, 

relate to life in contemporary Ghana.

I recall Shon Lita, a lady now long gone.

A friendly neighbor.

Passing twice a day in front of our parents’ home.

With her merchandise, fresh fish, on top of her head.

“Piská, piská, mi tin piská freskuuuuuu”

What a balancing power, what a strength.

These acts are long forgotten, no longer seen in Curaçao.

Whereas in Ghana’s streets this is still so common.

Impressive views of loading, unloading, up and down,

Taught to kids while young, practiced by the kayayei,

Yet for how long?

Will it disappear in due course?

Replaced by other means of transport?

Time will tell for Ghana, it already has for Curaçao.

Of Shon Lita only memories and treasured childhood stories are left.



While walking over a thick, hard layer made of human waste products,

While peeking through the Door of No Return, I was overwhelmed by feelings:

Feelings of Compassion:

For the innocent people emotionally, physically and mentally hurt

For the numerous African families torn apart.

For those who lost their lives before, during and after the transatlantic voyages.

Feelings of Reconciliation:

For those who were driven by money and power rather than by human value.

For those abusing of the female enslaved Africans.

For those who turned their head in another direction rather than acting against the human trade.

Feelings of Gratefulness:

For modern times and its democratic principles.

For our freedom nowadays to move, to act, to have a voice.

For the opportunities to learn from the past, to reconcile, to heal.

Feelings of Determination:

To celebrate the lives of our ancestors.

To move forward on our journey to heal, forgive yet never forget.

To free the next generations from our unhealed wounds.


The ancestral voices are reaching out to us, the people of Curaçao and Ghana, They show us new opportunities to relate, to exchange, to share. Pa Gya 2023, Wintertuin Curaçao 2023: Solid first steps in our literary reconnection journey.

-Richeline Joe

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About the author

Richeline Joe

Richeline Christine Joe, born and raised in Curaçao, has lived in the Netherlands for over 15 years where she completed her Masters study in Psychology and PhD in Social Sciences. She currently lives in Curaçao and is amongst others a writer of short stories and poems. She is one of the two winners of the 2023 writers contest of the Transatlantic Relatives digital platform, aimed at connecting Ghana and Curaçao through their common history. She gets her main inspiration for writing during nature walks, hikes, reading and just by observing and listening to people. In 2022 she was awarded a royal decoration as Knight in the Order of Orange Nassau. Richeline Joe is one of the two Curaçaoan artists selected to travel to Ghana and perform at the Pa Gya! Literary Festival.