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Posted by The Charlotte Post on Monday, March 7, 2016


Six weeks in the Motherland
Journey to Africa a real eye-opener
Published Saturday, May 31, 2014 11:57 am
by Cidney Holliday

Editor’s note: This is the first installment in a series of reports from Cidney Holliday, a Charlotte resident and rising senior at Davidson College.

For the next six weeks I will be living in Cape Coast Ghana, located in West Africa. I have decided, after getting over the 36 hours it took to get here, the sickening jetlag and incredible way I overpack, that I do enjoy traveling. Last night, we landed safely in the Motherland and the most awesome moment so far was the fly-in to Africa.

The moments of getting lost in terminals, or having to repack my checked bag because it is over the weight limit are all negligible compared to the feeling of flying through the air and seeing out of the window what everything looks like from above.

When you take a look out of that window seat, you truly realize how small you are. While sitting in that small reclining chair, I looked out the window at the earth below and I saw how we are a part of everything. I especially realized exactly how physical things, this earth and everything we build around it, was here prior to us.

In my school group I flew from Charlotte to Washington, D.C. and then to London. The flights were long and very tiring; the last leg of our travel was flying from London to Accra, the capital of Ghana. This flight, British Airlines number 88, was where I first saw my Home.

We flew over the Mediterranean Sea. I could see the coasts and familiar ridged edges of land masses I have learned about since the sixth grade. We next flew over the Saharan Desert. I have flown to Kansas every winter since birth, I swear I could point of my Nana’s house from the sky, but flying through the dessert was so very different.

Below our plane was completely tawny brown. There was markings, almost like loose and curved paintbrush strokes, which were clearly at some time in the timeline of the world rivers and lakes and streams, now all dried up. There was no vegetation. There was no life. At least it seemed.

Soon I began to make out roads, starting from anywhere, running a few miles with three or four exits and ending just as abruptly as they began. Scattered around them were small houses and even cars parked around them. Flying past those villages, we went over many miles and minutes of mountains and barren terrain before we would come across another village.

Being a United States and suburban native, I could not imagine living so very far from others. The areas were so spread apart and separated by such empty and old waterbeds, I felt as if the entire area was thirsty. The area was yearning – for, water, for people, for simple proximity. My heart held on to the meaning of the term ‘desert,’ as we moved on.

After the sun set on the Sahara, we flew across darkened and empty land again.  However, I soon saw the familiar sight of lights on the roadways and living areas. We were passing larger cities. These cities had orange and blue tinted lights and were huddled in masses like tangled Christmas lights on a dark ground. They were much more spread apart than the images I see when flying back into Charlotte Douglass International Airport, but there was a certain amount of life I felt was restored to my first impression of Africa.

If you will, It was as if these night-lit cities were like oblong shaped living cells. These cells, all thriving and all living, created the city chic (and sometimes yearning) body of my Motherland.

Cidney Holliday, Davidson College Class of 2015, is on a six-week research mission on Ghanaian Catholicism. She is a South Mecklenburg High School graduate.


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