What Nobody Tells You About Moving to Ghana as an African-American or Caribbean Returnee

Are you dreaming of moving to Africa? Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. Expect nothing. And you should do just fine.

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Nkrumah Memorial Park — First president of independent Ghana, West Africa
Nkrumah Memorial Park — First president of independent Ghana, West Africa.

I've always wanted to move to Ghana. I fell in love with the people and the place on my first visit in 1989. My father had always told me that we were from the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast, he said, was where our people came from before "the carry beyond". We had been brought to Jamaica on ships long ago, but we were Ashanti people, he said. I had no idea where the Gold Coast was in Africa — until I landed in Ghana on that first trip.

"You are strong in face and black like us," my host, Mister Yawson, said. "You are Ashanti — Kumasi people." That's when the penny dropped. I have lived ever since with a dream of returning where, in going back, there would be no loss. However, I would never have physically relocated had I not landed a dream job in Accra with a multinational advertising agency in 2011. Below are some things I've learned in my six years living and working among Ghanaians. Here is what no one will tell you about moving to Ghana as an African-American, a person of Caribbean heritage, or anyone else.

1. Beware the Anansi-Style Tricksters

Brer Nansi had filled my childhood imagination with his playful trickery in a world full of magic. The way my father told these stories made me want to live in that paradise. These ancient tales from when I was a boy remain my most enduring memories of idle days spent with my old man. Brer Nansi and his double-dealing trickery were likely the real catalysts for my ideas about moving to Ghana in the first place. However, the moment you land at Kotoka International Airport, you are not quite prepared for the kinds of tricksters poised to pounce and "chop your money," as they say.

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Often found in far-flung places reading Walter Mosley with a rucksack on his back.