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Maame Adjei, a Ghanaian “repat,” is making waves with her fun and stylish travel show, Girl Going Places. Aiming to show Ghana and the continent in all of its glory, Adjei is also an actress, with a starring role in Ghana’s most buzzed about web series, “An African City.” The show has taken the international world by storm, showing the nation and its people laid bare; the joys, frustrations, and pure comedy of moving to modern Africa and leaving all your expectations behind. We chat wi this busy woman about projects past and present, and get some tips on traveling in Ghana.
How did Girl Going Places come about?
I moved to Ghana in 2o12; my background is actually in finance but I decided that I didn’t want to move my whole life to Ghana and work in a field I wasn’t really passionate about, so I decided to take the rest of 2013 off and just travel for myself and really get to know my country. I would literally just drive places, get on a bus or tro tro, look up places on Google and just go. As I was doing that I realized that a lot of people I knew, like my friends and family, weren’t aware of a lot of these places and someone said to me, “you should document this.” So I started filming it and documenting all these beautiful places.
Season 1 was in Ghana. What would you say was the best, or most interesting place in Ghana you visited?
Cape 3 points just because I’m a beach baby and it’s a place that’s so untouched, with the beaches being so beautiful and there being so much history. I think that the most interesting place to me was Likpe, in the Volta region, because my expectations were very low. I knew that there were caves there so I thought I’d just drive up and walk across the street, see some caves and come back but then the hike popped up, which was incredible, then the views from up this mountain and this place that had so much crazy history. The whole thing was just so intense and really interesting for me.
If you had to put together a perfect itinerary for someone visiting Ghana, where would you tell them they had to go?
Well, definitely Cape 3 Points, one of my favorite places in Ghana. Then Tamale. I went there and it’s stunning, so different from anywhere else in Ghana, I love it. In Accra, there are so many great hidden places. The Artists Alliance Gallery, which is in Labadi, is one, but lots of people don’t think or know about it and it’s a haven for beautiful art. Those are three places that always come to mind.
So will there be a Season 2?
Yes, right now I’m working on a Season 2 which hopefully will take me to eight different African countries. That’s the goal. We want to do West Africa, which will be Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Cote D’Ivoire, and then Southern Africa which will be South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia.
Do you have a favorite African destination outside of Ghana?
You know I actually haven’t been to a lot of African countries yet! But my dream, the place that I really, really want to go to is Namibia. I’ve heard it’s so beautiful and I imagine it’s one of those countries that’s untouched and people don’t really talk about it. Everyone that’s been there always has amazing stories about it, so it’s definitely on my Africa bucket list, at the top.
How did you go from a background in psychology and healthcare into acting?
I always wanted to be a psychologist and as a college student I interned at a hospital in the administration and finance department, so I went a got a masters in that, but when I moved to Ghana, in my year off for traveling, a friend of mine, who is the creator of “An African City” [Nicole Amartefio], got in touch via Facebook about that project and asked if I was interesting in being in it. At first I was like “No, I’m not an actress,” but then she sold me. That was really what happened, it was more like a meeting of destiny. I’m thankful that happened.
Do you have any other acting roles lined up?
I just shot my first film, which will be out in February, [and is], also written by Nicole and then I’m working on some short films as well and then, of course, “An African City” Season 3, which we start shooting soon.
And you sculpt and make furniture?
Yeah. that was something I was doing in Philadelphia for my mental health, like getting old furniture and refurbishing pieces. It was my side passion, so I did a little bit when I came to Ghana, but now life is so crazy and things are so busy that I haven’t had time.
If you had to describe Ghana in five words, what would they be?
Wow. that a tough one! The first word would be energetic. There’s so much happening, the energy, the space, the colors. The second word is vibrant, even when you go to the villages there’s vibrancy everywhere. The third word would be home. the first thing I think about actually; it’s home: it’s bad, it’s good, it’s ugly, but it’s home! The fourth word is potential! Ghana has so much potential to just grow, and the fifth would be welcoming. People call Ghana “Africa light” for a reason! If you’re gonna come to Africa for the first time, come here first; it’s easy to navigate and the people are nice and friendly.