Going home – C Nortey returns to Bukom I grew up in rural England, where, to me, everyone around me was living a life I would describe as ordinary, boring even. An average daily life that involves driving to work or being dropped off at school. People shop at Tescos, complain about the drizzle in the same way they look forward to tea breaks. But whilst I was playing conkers at 8, riding ponies at 10, watching soap operas at 12, other people were experiencing a very different life, a very different ‘normal’. James C Nortey, for instance, was in Bukom, a distinct place in Jamestown, Accra, Ghana, five and a half thousand miles from the seemingly mundane grey pavements and traffic lights of my home town. There was no Tescos, or even school necessarily. Bukom is a place that smells of warm porridge, smoked fish and petrol leaks all in one whiff; a place so loud with crowd chatter, preaching, local music, bartering, that sleep is hard to get; a place where little boys grow up to be fisherman or maybe boxers and once in a blue moon, footballers. C lived in a wooden house, painted yellow and played football on a sand pitch with a low white wall. Bukom was a place so far away from where he would end up, no physical distance could define it. Fast forward a decade of time and a lifetime of tangible differences, at 6.30 on a Sunday morning in September 2017, with the clouds churning like Guinness above, C sat with me in the car as we drove closer to Bukom. The concrete compounds with security posts changed, got smaller, faded out. The streets became jumbled, narrow, busier, until they were penned in by the slanting wooden shacks and single-roomed concrete homes that stacked up against each other like dominoes frozen in mid-fall. People walking five abreast weaved past the spluttering motorbikes, manoeuvring through the rest the crowds. Past great cauldrons steaming while the women pound fufu and make porridge on the streets, next to the mechanics shining with grease. Huge silver pans balanced on street vendors heads, transporting live Guinea fowl, round warm doughnuts and everything in between. And I mean everything – car parts; dusters, fish, shoes, sewing machines, cow’s heads. You name it, someone in Bukom is walking around with it on their head. To C, this is normal, this is home. The difference is, he can see both sides now – he can see how it is normal to some, and not to others. Because when he was 10, he got a scholarship to Right to Dream which lead to him to finish his education in America. Hotchkiss School in Connecticut is about as far removed as you could get from Bukom, Jamestown. Google the two places, see for yourself. C was lucky enough to be paired with a host family that he loves like his own, so now he has two families, two homes, two definitions of normal. Here in Bukom, a private world exists that champions boxers and survives on daily deals, catching fish, praying and fighting alike. A private world which has a football pitch at its centre. And this is where we were going. C began to shift in his seat, look out the window without blinking, smiling without explanation. Lost in thoughts, disguised in chit chat and laughter, he confessed on feeling both nervous and excited, for he was going to see friends he had known from when he was nine years old, returning to his life pre-Right to Dream. He was about to play football on a pitch he used to play without shoes, without any idea that one day he would leave to live in a place so far away from here, none of his friends can truly understand the difference. And then we were there, at the sand football pitch with the low white wall. C Nortey took a deep breath. He was back in Bukom, one of his homes, half of his normal.