Back To Africa? For Some African-Americans, The Answer Is Yes

Back To Africa? For Some African-Americans, The Answer Is Yes

Written by Chris Stein | From Codewit World News

A steady trickle of African-Americans find a homeland in Africa, whether motivated by love, money, or a desire to connect with ancestral roots. Ghana has become a particularly popular destination.

Jimmy Thorne says that relocating to Ghana is one of the best moves he’s ever made.

It doesn’t matter if he, an African-American, gets called “obroni,” the local word for white person, in the streets, or if some of his family can’t quite figure out what he’s doing in this West African nation so far from his roots in North Carolina.

In his eight years in Ghana, he has found his wife, reconnected with God, and even manages to play golf daily. Ghana is home to him now.

“Once you accept it as your home, why wouldn’t you stay in your home?” Mr. Thorne said. “This is where we come from originally, so maybe that’s why we’re here. Maybe it’s divine providence.”

Whether motivated by love, money, or the desire to rekindle a long-lost connection, black repatriation to Africa remains alive and well, even if it never quite became the high-volume, emotional return to African roots that initially captured the imagination of black intellectuals and celebrities like boxer Mohammad Ali decades ago.

Some 3,000 African-Americans live in this country of 25 million, according to the African-American Association of Ghana. Their migration is more a trickle than a flood, attracting mostly retirees who want to start charities, rediscover their roots, or simply relax, the association said.

Ghana has become the destination of choice for African-Americans looking for a spiritual home, if not an ancestral one, on the African continent.

“Wherever it is that we find ourselves, in Africa is where we should be,” says Imahkus Okofu, who moved to Ghana from New York City 24 years ago and now runs a health spa and has authored books on repatriation. “Whether we come from Sierra Leone or Ghana, or wherever, we are the result of the transatlantic and European slave trade.”

Ghana’s government has met the African-American embrace of its country cautiously.

Former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings passed legislation to grant an indefinite residence permit for people of African descent, and the country recently set up a new bureau to harness the country’s diaspora, including African-Americans, for development.

But African-Americans complain that it’s basically impossible to get that permit. Many add that the reception they receive from Ghanaians is less of brotherly embrace and more of puzzlement as to why they’d want to move to a place like Ghana, which has seen rapid economic growth in recent years but still struggles with widespread poverty.

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