A New Dawn in Ghana: Returning to the Motherland

Why some Americans are finding home abroad

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Courtesy of Youtube

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Since this year is a leap year, there is one important thing to remember — Black History Month is a day longer! 🙌🏾 

As we close out this month, I am reminded of Fannie Lou Hamer’s speech, I’m Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired. In 1964 she spoke candidly about the abuse she and other African Americans (AA) faced in America. Her recollection of all that she endured is unfortunately similar to the abuse many AA’s still experience 60 years later. She says “I've been tired for so long, now I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, and we want a change. We want a change in this society in America”… For many AA’s, it seems as if that change will never come and as a result a vast majority have considered moving to Africa. 

The youtube video we are featuring this week is the DW broadcast titled “Black Americans in African”, where AA’s share their experience leaving the U.S. and finding a new home in Ghana. Here are five things we found interesting.

Courtesy of Black & Abroad

The Call of Ancestral Lands

Ghana initiated the "Year of Return" in 2019, inviting African Americans to reconnect with their ancestral roots, a movement echoed across Africa with similar campaigns. Since launching the campaign, at least 1500 Black people have moved to Ghana. Countries like Nigeria, Senegal, and Kenya are also welcoming the diaspora, blending a return to roots with modern opportunities.  Three years ago Senegal started working with African American business leaders to celebrate its first “The Return”. They held the event on June 19th, modeling after Juneteenth. The purpose was to commemorate the end of slavery in America and also encourage Black Americans to invest in the country.

Courtesy of Isaac Kaledzi/DW

And So Reasons to Return Home

A return to the motherland is not a new concept. During the early 20th century, Jamaican activist Marcus Garvey was known for his Pan African ideals. He advocated for Black people to return back to Africa. 100 years later, the sentiment rings true, with Black people taking the journey back home. The reason for the desire to leave America is simple—safety. A lot of us in America would feel safer in a country/continent where everyone shares the same melanin. “There is something to be said about belonging”, says Tony Saafir-Ankomah.

Mike Brown, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tamir Rice, are just a few names out of hundreds that have been killed because of police brutality. Not to mention there are states that are banning books in schools that celebrate black culture or acknowledge America’s tough past with slavery. There are too many stories of young black boys and girls who have had their dreadlocks and afros criminalized in school, which has led to the creation of laws like the Crown Act.  This law exists for the sole purpose of protecting the right to literally show up to work or school with the hair we were born with. These macro and micro-aggressions are not a reality for AA’s living in a society that is predominantly Black. Living in a society where you are the majority provides one with a sense of freedom and peace. That feeling is priceless.

Courtesy of Black & Abroad

Finding A New And Improved Purpose 

AA’s are rediscovering their purpose in the motherland, with many engaging deeply in community and economic development. Hailing from Queens, New York, Patricia Wilkins, left her high paying job in fashion to move to Ghana. She’s been there for 10 years. Her organization, BASICS International, has a “mission to alleviate poverty, provide access to education and empower women and children.” One of the educational initiatives she manages is utilizing chess to enhance children's learning. She has even leveraged her fashion background to empower women in textile skills. This program also provides the women additional income to care for their families. 

Tonya Saafir-Ankomah, is a lawyer originally from Mississippi. She has settled in Ghana and acts as an ambassador for Ghana, she helps AA’s interested in relocating, serving as a bridge to their ancestral heritage.

Courtesy of National Geographic

Switching Zip Codes: The Unspoken Challenges

Relocating to Ghana presents hurdles such as culture shock, adjusting financially, and rebuilding social networks. When people reach out to Tonya to understand the process for moving to Ghana, she is honest about the challenges they may face. “Here you gotta have money…a steady source of income to sustain yourself….family is very important here.” Adjusting to anywhere new is challenging. For AA’s the move to Ghana is somewhat of a culture shock. They have to adjust to learning the local language, navigate the health care system, and finding community. Outside of logistical things like not being able to roll up to Trader Joe’s or a corner store, there’s the emotional aspect of moving. “I think that people underestimate the emotional toll that it takes to move to another country,” said Cordie Aziz, who moved to Ghana in 2012. 

Courtesy of Africa Renewal

Pioneering New Paths: Diallo Sumbry's Resilient Journey

DC native, Diallo Sumbry, is the CEO of the Adinkra Group, an organization whose goal is to empower AA’s to connect with the continent. Through his organization and partnership with the “Year of Return” campaign, Diallo has helped many AA’s relocate to Ghana. In the interview he talks about being on a continual journey of self-discovery that essentially led him to Ghana. His goal was to study manifestation and traditional African science.  His narrative highlights the peace and opportunities found away from the systemic issues faced in the U.S. It also underscores the transformative potential of resettling in Ghana, from leading a successful organization to authoring guides for diaspora relocation.

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