It was surreal when the plane touched down and my sneakers touched the tarmac. My senses were excited with the rush of emotion and overwhelmed with the newfound heat.

Although it was 93 degrees, the heat I speak of was coming from my soul. The organized chaos that I was feeling continued as I moved further away from my assimilated comfort zone into a zone that was more familiar than home. The people scanning me as I scanned them back watched with the curiosity of a newborn to see if I belong and my answer soon surfaced. “Akwaaba brother.”

My ears perked up with a sense of familiarity, but my face was confused. It means, “Welcome” and “Welcome home,” and my answer was now clear.

One of Africa’s lost sons had returned home after generations of identity theft, oppression and struggle to get back. I landed in Ghana after three layovers and almost a full day of flying through time zone after time zone. My reasons for going to Africa may seem obvious, but I will explain anyways. In the living struggle that is America, some Black people find a strong sense of pride in the quest for identity and thrive off of garnering that to combat society’s ills. I am one of those information hoarders because I know that it is my duty to be a change agent for the endless movement, so going to Africa was paramount.

I hear so many teachers and leaders speak of this continent with the love one has for a grandmother. I say grandmother because the great level of reverence and inconceivable love for it has created your mother and father, and you. Now, I’ve been told of Africa since I was a boy, and it has been an obsession to get to the place that our ancestors ruled, so once I had a college friend move back home to Ghana, it was only a matter of time before I took the trip.

Ghana was absolutely breathtaking from start to finish. The green pastures that Marcus Garvey spoke of hoarded a richness that made everything I ate seem like the best I’d ever had. I ate every local dish that my companions could find and in great abundance. Between the music and the dance, I could find very few differences between my family’s Trinidadian culture and the Ghanaian.

The people were pleasant everywhere and were always willing to teach. In one of the most unexpected teaching moments, I learned my day name, “Kwame,” and how this tradition survived the middle passage. Everywhere I went there was something to undue the false history I’d learned in America’s formal schooling. The Black stars of Ghana would shine brightest in the immortalization of Kwame Nkrumah. The museum that captures his life literally is a time capsule of those days of fighting overt oppression. You can see how the sparks that eventually ignited an independence movement burning across the continent were always connected to the enduring spirit of the root; the ancestors.

The roots, traditions and history of Africa endlessly enduring the erosion of Western history is one underlying truth of my visit. This was never more present than the trip to Elmina Castle on the coast of Ghana. This castle, also known as “the last exit,” was the last time the ancestors would see or be on the shores of Africa. I walked into this melancholy structure with the same heat that hit my soul when I landed in Ghana. I was only comforted when my eyes started to sweat out my feelings.

At the end of the tour of this place, we stood in a small room, and the guide told us, “The ancestors left these shores never to return, but today we bring them back; we return.” That resonated, and now you must make it your duty to return!