On the Nature of Discovery

ACI Artist Leader Basil Kinciad 

Placement: Accra, Ghana 

Hometown: St. Louis, USA 

This (living and working as an artist in Ghana, specifically as an ACI Artist-in-Residence) has been an interesting and eye opening experience, and it continues to be so as it unfolds. From where I sit right now I find myself on a journey of self discovery. I came thinking that I could use art to activate some sort of social change, most directly when I came home -- but I also wanted to find a way to bridge a gap between communities. Now that seems a little short sighted and I am beginning to realize that I came here to learn. And, in all my learning, I have in truth learnt the most about myself.

Now, this may seem selfish but in brutal honesty, but I -- as an artist -- cannot effectively do my job for society without coming into the Graceland of freedom; a garden that can only be entered when one, a poet (and by poet I mean all artists) come to know who they are. I am learning with greater clarity a duality within myself, multiple dualities that dance like binary stars. Here I share a moment in my self discovery.


I'm not entirely here,

I should be able to write about the women carrying baskets on their head and the boys carrying bags of water

on their head and all the different things being carried on different people’s heads to different places.

I should be able to write about the volume of the city,

And eventually I will.

But for now I am present with the clothes lines,

I am one with the peeling paint,

The stacks of logs, or cement blocks, the color of the soil,

Red and orange, at times black mixed with charred coal,

I am present in the bright colors against the sky,

Dark skin,

Magical skin,

All shades of the most beautiful browns,

Against brightly painted walls,

Stacks of beer crates and crates for coke cola, green, black, red, blue.

The sun carrying love under her tongue reaching down to kiss my face and arms, my legs and toes,

I thought this was home but now I'm not sure what home is.

What happens to the concept of home when you are away for generations, when you return and it's all

different, when no one you knew is alive and you speak a new language?

What happens when your old home doesn't recognize you, spirits follow you around to check and make sure

you are who you were when you were abducted?

What happens when you live long enough with your heart split in two, when all the blood has run out into the

soil to write script, coding the growth of new flowers and fruit bearing trees that give shade to ignorant


Wires pouring out from the mouth of electronic baboons with loudspeakers miss-educating the rocks that's hold

down tin roofs.

What happens to you then?

What happens when neither home makes sense and you find yourself situated half-comfortably, half-longingly,

between the two with your eyes fixed on the stars with both homes dancing their own dances and singing their

own songs in your peripheral vision asking you to look left and right while you feel misunderstood in both


What happens then?

You bring soil and sand back from both places and mix them together wondering what will grow in this new soil

"what life can you program?" You ask this molecular concoction in the greenhouse of your soul.

You ask this new soil if the flowers that grow from it will feel as confused as you do. You ask because you're

not sure if you want them to feel like this. You want them to kiss the sky but you don't want them to want to

peek their beautiful faces back into the soil like you want to sometimes.

You look up from paper and screens and see some of the most beautiful faces you've ever seen, you're afraid

to look for too long.

Noticing that you're talking about yourself as if you are another person because you're splitting in two.

Or have become two, an I and a you all in the same body.

I live there and you live here, right now I'm in "your" shoes.

They sorta fit,


They were supposed to fit well.

Maybe they just take some breaking in.