Meet Nana Aba, the author of “STOLEN HERITAGE -blood and stone.
The highly anticipated book focuses on women in power, double standards in society and the identity crisis faced by black people.
Born in Ghana, Nana immigrated with her family to United States under a refugee program and settled in Erie, Pennsylvania at the age of 13. She struggled fit into the new society as an immigrant and a black person, and had to work hard to an impression on everyone she met. This led her to the military, where she experienced great joy and sorrow.
Nana has used these life experiences to write her new book. She shares the rest of her backstory in this Q & A.
How was life like before immigrating to the United States?
I’m proud to have been raised in Ghana. Living there was freer, simpler and most of all easy. Though my family wasn’t rich, our sense of tradition and culture filled in the gaps poverty created.
The circumstances under which my family had to leave were quite tragic, as I had to leave an entire childhood, friends and family. I was relieved to be leaving behind poverty, starvation and my cultural obligations as young woman, but I felt a sense of guilt for leaving my people behind and betrayal for abandoning my country.
However, as an adult with the aspirations I have today, I am unsure if Ghana would have been able to provide me with the opportunities the United States has.
What exactly was expected of you as a young woman growing up in your community in Ghana?
Barely in my pre-teens, I was a mother to my younger siblings and cousins, my designated place within the household was the kitchen and I was expected to sell produce that my family invested in.
Each day after school I would gather some of the produce in a tray, carry it on my head and walk around the community, advertising and ensuring people bought it. The money I made from the sales was used to cater for the needs of the family. I was also expected to attract and maintain the interest of a potential suitor for marriage.
You mentioned that you were so grateful to your adopted county that you joined the military in 2012. How has your time there been like?
My first duty station was on board the aircraft carrier. In 2015 I was selected by my commanding officer for meritorious advancement. Life on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was no ordinary life. During my seven months deployment, I had the opportunities to visit different countries such as Dubai, Bahrain, Naples, Canada and Paris.
Though these experiences made my journey a little bearable, the adversities I faced were unmatched. For months I worked on the flight deck in an excruciating heat. As a female in a male dominate rate, I constantly had to above and beyond to “match” the standards of men.
Did you experience other challenges?
I’ve been sexually assaulted twice and the aftermath off these incidences triggered severe anxiety as well as depression, which ultimately led to stress induced seizures. Though currently still active duty, I have been placed on a limited duty status and while here I am receiving the help and assistance I need to help manage and properly deal with these atrocities I faced.
As a sexual assault victim, survivor and advocate, every day is a challenge. However, I still remain resilient and will not give up. What I went through is what motivates me to use writing as an escape and an encouragement to women all around the world.
What’s your life philosophy?
My life philosophy is “at first if you don’t succeed, try again…” this quote always find a way to keep me motivated and striving for the best. Always! I first heard this quote from a naval officer I met when I attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis during my junior year. What he said made such an impact in my life, I’ve used this quote to not only motivate myself during hard times but anyone I come in contact with who may need some inspiration.
What else would you like us to know about you?
What I want people to know about me, though my life hasn’t been smooth and easy, I’m not broken. The things I’ve faced ignited a different level of confidence and pride within myself no one can ever steal from me regardless of what they choose to take from me.
To anyone who has ever been through an adversity in which they felt cheated, broken and weak, use each day to strive and be better than who you were before. Because it does get better. “At first if you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Photo taken by: @west_entertainment_
Photo edited by @king_j_slayer