My first visit to Ghana this past summer of 2018 was filled with expected adventure, pleasures, learning. I did not know how I would be accepted. My thoughts were that I may be taken advantage of as a foreigner.
I held my guard up for what may be the unexpected. My passion/love for my Black people gave me strength; I now know that there’s a plenty we didn’t know about our past.
The Ghanaians are the humble and peaceful people. The time I spent there, over a month and a half, I saw no violence or shooting or fighting. I traveled on the road and I took taxis, I walked, I ran…I watched a lot a news and there’s just not a lot of crime and NO GUNS! I was able to do business with a few of the locals. I was treated well and was very happy with what I bought.
If you’re thinking about visiting Ghana you will first need a passport, then you must apply for a visa to get to Ghana. Must have a medical shot to fight against yellow fever infection. Get your tickets three or four months in advance, either alone or with a tour—you will save if you purchase early online.
When I arrived in the country it was the hottest time of the year. The temperature was 100 degrees every day. I was out in it most days. In the market district was the most intense heat. What do you get when you get 10,000 Blacks crowed in a small area? BLACK HEAT!! I loved it! The walks got me closer to the neighborhood, where I saw a local soccer match.
On Sundays everyone’s on their way to a Sunday Sermon—you’ll hear shouts and singing from a distance, music playing, tambourines and drums, with hands clapping. It will bring joy to your heart, it’s pure soul filled with heavenly harmonies.
Getting around is a major problem if you’re without a car. I always asked the fare before I went anywhere. I got familiar with one or two drivers in the area. Of course, they will jack the price when they hear your English. I took long walks and drank a lot a water. My choice of movement long-distance was the “choo-choo”—If you ever wanted to be close to somebody you have to take a choo-choo. It’s essentially a modified van which transports many passengers beyond its capacity.
So I rode in the choo-choo for many, many miles to the outskirts and rural areas. I saw plush vegetation and green valleys and hills, mountaintops filled with huge trees. I saw many different tribes at stops. A group of Fulanis were in town—they are nomads and live in the desert plains and raise cattle. They are Muslim people and make up a small percentage of the population in Ghana. I always ask what tribe they come from, but only if I am having an in-depth conversation with the person.
I know I am from one of those tribes and that is what Black people now want to know. The harsh injustices in America have convinced many that the U.S. is not the only place you can make a living and right now, America doesn’t seem particularly safe for Black men.
If you are young and have the skills in what they are looking for, you should consider a country in Africa. Many are predicting that it’s the next China due to its many natural resources, oil, gold, diamonds. Ghana was once called “The Gold Coast” before its independence. A great time to visit is during the Independence celebration. Also the holiday season is a good time to come. Ghanaian government has a Right to Abode for Black Americans to come back to Ghana and get a citizenship and stay as long as you want. It’s a first for any country on the continent of Africa to introduce anything like it. Now if you’re worried about the money exchange you will be happy to know that the exchange is 4.7 GHS (Ghana currency) to 1 U.S. dollar. Not bad if you’re spending time there and getting a social security retirement check.
I visited Cape Coast in Ghana, which was visited by First Lady Melania Trump—I think it’s in very bad taste for the way they market the historical Slave Quarters. It’s visited by thousands. The shores of Cape Coast is where the slave trade flourished in the 1600s. The town was colonized by the British and French and the Portuguese. There are over 3,000 Black Americans now living in Ghana.
While I was there I met many Black Americans just by walking around and going to the beaches. You can easily meet locals because they all speak good English. I checked in with the AAAG (African American Association of Ghana), which was started by Black Americans. They help other Blacks that come to Ghana to visit, or who choose to stay for good, in the adjustment to Ghana’s way of life.
The civil rights legend W.E.B. Du Bois came to live in Ghana in the ‘20s and they have a center named for him near the U.S. Embassy in Accra. I met two of the members of the AAAG at their headquarters, which is very close to the U.S. Embassy.
I love to travel, and Africa as a continent has all the mystery and adventure that you could yearn for. It’s a pivotal and important time for all Black people in the U.S., but one thing we all know—Africa is where all life began and flourished before any other way of life.
From Ethiopia, which has the Arc of the Covenant, to Kemit (Egpyt), where you’ll find the Pyramids and the Sphinx, to the gold mines in South Africa, Africa should be on every Black person’s “bucket list” to visit.
As one of my friends from Ghana would say, “Come Back Home.”
THE INTERVIEWS, conducted by Jay Donaldson
BABA RAA EL, from Chicago, Illinois. A Moorish American who came to Ghana in 2005. He is building a property on 1\4 of acres of land in the Cape Coast region of Ghana. I asked him how difficult was it to get land here in Ghana as an African American? He replied, “That you need to get a local resident who is connected with the right folks.” He explained that, “You come take it all in for a year or so then watch and see who is true and honest.” He also mentioned that medical care is good here and very affordable.
THERESA SCOTT KWAKYE (KWACHIE), born in Newana, Georgia. She formerly lived in D.C. Moved to Ghana first in 1985. She moved to Ghana with her 5-month-old baby boy and husband who is Ghanaian. She is Ghanaian, also. Theresa expressed that she finds the people here much like the folks in the South, “back home,” she says. She mentioned that she worked many jobs when she arrived here. Her first was with the Mormons. She also worked at Data Bank, and she taught at Ghana International School, and now working at the Univ. of Ghana. In 1991 at the start of the African American Association of Ghana, she was the one of the first members, and now she is the President. I wanted to know the mission of the AAAG. She says that the mission is to expose the Ghanaians to our cultures and history as well as to educate Diasporians here in Ghanaian culture. I asked her why should Black Americans move or visit to Ghana. Her reply was to come be educated about Ghana and share each one’s culture. I was happy to finally meet someone from the AAAG here, they have been very helpful in finding me people from the USA to interview and speak with. They set up a meeting with me at the W.E.B Du Bois Center near the US Embassy in Accra. It was a long journey from where I was staying, about an hour ride. The AAAG meets once a month in a building they have provided for them. I would encourage anyone who visits Ghana to seek them out, and find out whats going on in Ghana.
MARIA DANIELS, from Chicago, Illinois. Raised in Southern California. First visited Ghana in 2002. Stayed for 30 days, came back to Ghana in 2005 to stay for good. “My purpose for coming was to start a business in the dairy industry,” she says. I asked her what challenges she faced when starting up her business. “Buying land from the person and the banks here do not offer loans for large projects.” She has built a house and owns 641 acres in Akuse (AKU-SE). Her plans are to create satellite cities, for returning African Americans to Ghana. (Real-life Wakanda in the making…) Her vision was seen and created back in 1998 and now she thinks Africa is ready to accept her to do it. She also has an interest in opening entertainment venues, local community programs, etc. Maria also holds the position of Finance Secretary for the African American Association of Ghana. She was very helpful in finding me affordable living while in Accra. As she mentioned to me, “That is what we do (AAAG), help visitors who come here from the USA in any way we can help them find their way around Ghana.”