‘So, what brings you to Ghana?’


In December 2007, after becoming engaged to my favorite Ghanaian American Kwabena (aka Jay), I was invited to join his parents, siblings, and nephews on a family trip to Ghana. At 24, it was my first time off of the North American continent. The trip was challenging for this recovered germaphobe, but I fell in love with the country. I set my sights on living in Ghana someday and made no secret of it.

Fast forward to 2013. Jay and I were parenting a 2-year-old son, completely over living in southern Cali, and had decided to relocate back to the East Coast. A perpetual “sufferer” of wanderlust, I found myself researching plane tickets to Ghana. Why not go on vacation before settling into our new lives, right?

Fares were cheap and we went for it. I’ve always been a firm believer that I’d rather do something and regret it then not do it and always wonder ‘what if?’.

And to be completely honest, we’d grown weary of America. We were tired of working thrice as hard to get half as far, of hearing about black people being killed for the simple offense of being Black, tired of experiencing racism from Whites as well as other people of color. {We’d once heard a little Mexican boy at the pool in our apartment complex yell ‘Eeny meeny, miney, moe. Catch a nigger by the toe. Twice. In 2012.}

We were tired of clawing at the American dream and feeling as though we weren’t quite making the progress we thought we should based on our education and effort.

So we left. Most of our belongings went into storage and the deuces were chucked.

We landed at Kotoka International Airport on May 1, 2013. As soon as I could see Accra through the clouds, tears started streaming down my face. I knew I was here to stay.

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Luckily, we were able to stay in a family home for several months before getting our own place (more on Accra rental rates in a later post). Within 3 weeks of our arrival Jay, an incredibly talented architectural designer (and now developer), had secured clients that could sustain us. In essence, we had more going for us in Ghana then we had in the U.S. at that particular point in time.

Ten weeks after our arrival, George Zimmerman was acquitted in the murder of Trayvon Martin. Disappointed, disillusioned, and enraged, I was convinced that I didn’t want to raise my family in America. Why would I want to worry that any random civilian or law enforcement officer would find my guys a threat and take them from me? Nah bruh.

{Sidebar: Does that make me a refugee or asylum-seeker?? President Akuffo-Addo…what it do?}

But I digress…My new life wasn’t easy to adjust to; the Ghana of 2007 was shockingly different than the Ghana of 2013. It was much more crowded, much more developed and much, much more expensive.

And just like any place else, visiting a locale is not at all the same as living there. While we loved it; it was wearing on me. I missed my creature comforts and conveniences of Western life. Many aggravations of daily life here had me constantly baffled and annoyed.

The truth of the matter is I, like many other African Americans, romanticize Africa and our return home. We envision a warm, welcoming embrace, figuratively and literally. I think those who don’t know any better, particularly pan-Africanists such as myself, expect to be seen as “one of them”; as a “seestah” or “brodah”, not as just another American. Or more surprisingly, an obruni (white person; westerner). I think we also confuse “old Africa” and “new Africa”. Just as Black America of the 1960’s was different than contemporary Black America, so is the reality of life in Africa. I believe my Ghanaian in-laws also had to recalibrate to this truth upon moving back home after four decades in the US.

Ten months in, I went back to Florida with my eldest to give birth to my second son and to get my mind right. Jay, my husband and very best friend, stayed behind to work and visits from him sustained us. Though stressed and stretched thin, he was pursuing his passion. We were missed, but he had to follow through on his professional commitments.

I pressured him to wrap things up and come back, but dropped the issue after a few months. As a Black man in the field of architecture, America didn’t offer him a lot but as a son of the nation, Ghana has allowed him to write his own ticket. I never wanted him to be 50 years old, look back at his career and wonder what he could have accomplished if his wife hadn’t forced him back to America because she couldn’t stand the heat.

Besides, distance from Ghana made my heart grow even fonder. I missed it and the indescribable freedom living here afforded (and still affords) our family. More importantly, I missed our very tight family unit being intact.

So I packed up everything in my storage unit and permanently moved back home.

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I’m proud to be a daughter of the diaspora. I’m proud of my African-American roots. I’m proud to be married to a brilliant and proud Ghanaian American man. I’m proud to be raising young kings of the diaspora. I’m proud to call the Continent my home.

I’ve been back for a year and a half now and am finally starting to find my niche. I’m finding my butcher, my baker, and my candlestick maker. I’m growing and learning more about myself. I’m making Ghana home for our family, creating a life for them where my children feel safe, loved, confident and develop into compassionate, proud global citizens.

There’s so much joy to be found navigating the culture, traveling the country and the rest of the continent, meeting new people, and experiencing new things. I’m exploring and indulging my passions and doing a lot of living outside of my comfort zone. I’ve abandoned the idea of and lost the desire to achieve the American Dream. Instead, I’m embracing and seeking my own version of the African Dream.

This life is a unique and interesting one. It’s fun. It’s crazy. It’s maddening. It’s marvelous. I cry some but laugh plenty. And for better or for worse, this life is for real. Come along and see.

It’s a beautiful day in Zamunda.

4 responses to “‘So, what brings you to Ghana?’

  1. I’m so proud of you reading your story touched me in so many ways😍 knowing you from when we was younger I know you changed on so many levels and I’m proud to have met you through jontue our sweet friend. Continue living in Paradise🌄 with you beautiful family👪, I wish one day Jontue and I could come visit you and your family one day, until then I wish you the best😙

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