Tag Archives: imperialism

the brand

19 Aug

The following piece was written for this week’s trifecta challenge. Originally I planned to write a fictional story based off my experiences in Ghana, but I ended up with this truthful reflection instead. The views expressed are my own, and are not intended to offend.

BRAND (noun)
3a (1) : a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership
(2) : a printed mark made for similar purposes : trademark
b (1) : a mark put on criminals with a hot iron
(2) : a mark of disgrace : stigma

Word count: 270

Everywhere I went, people called me by the color of my skin. Children would yell out to me, “Obruni!” and I would respond, “Obibini!” White, and black.

We were different. We were separate species, almost. You’d think so by the way the children would stare and, when they got braver, run up and touch or hug my skin. I suppose they wanted to see if it felt the same, this alien skin.

Even adults called me Obruni, or at church, Sister Obruni. It was my name, truer than Chloe and truer than the name I adopted for ease of pronunciation: Gloria.

I tripped, once, and the response was “Watch it, white girl!” followed by a silent conversation.
A man held up his plastic bag containing drinking water, bought for the equivalent of five cents. I nodded, sheepish, and he poured it over my skin, darkened by mud. I watched as the man restored that awful brand of my relative wealth.

I was branded to forever be a part of cyclical imperialism, a naive but well-meaning volunteer. Questions and accusations flooded my mind. How dare I try to step in with my WHITE, and lead children and adults both to believe that they need WHITE to fix their problems? How dare I spend more on the flight out there than on the Ghanian people themselves? How dare I give money to the beggar children on the beach, setting them up to starve when the next WHITE can’t or won’t give likewise?

And yet, many want my cursed brand.

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To read more about my experiences in Ghana, you can read my travel blog I used to communicate with my family while I was there: Chloe’s Ghana

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