First Generation American. Or Brit. Or German…Fill in the blank with your country of citizenship. You. Born overseas to Ghanaian parents or maybe your move back “returneeness” means you left Ghana for the first time after high school and are now back again, or toying with the idea of moving to Ghana, after a decade or so.
You know who’s not thinking about that dusty, hot place where nothing works? Who followed the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, longing to get far, far away from the Black continent? Who bought a one-way ticket in the 70’s and can’t believe you are thinking of doing same but in the “wrong” direction? Your parents. They did it. Yankee. No power outages. Silky smooth roads with traffic lights and sensible drivers. Better jobs that could afford them homes they only dreamed about as youngsters in Ghana and a life where they could take you and your siblings to Disneyland. Who looks back from that life? You do.
You! The you that did great on your SATs and sailed away to get that higher education on a scholarship. Internships; college leadership; then off to your first job. You handled the young black professional scene, networking while scouting out the best spots in the city to enrichen your thoughts, ideologies, culture and total self. Your parents are so proud of you. Their dear daughter or son, living the dream. But that dream and education makes you very self-aware and also aware beyond yourself. It means the good life to you is not the path of least resistance but the road less traveled. You seek all they sought but your spirit yearns for a deeper meaning to life; to be part of something bigger than a good paycheck.
Ahaspora founder Christabel Dadzie remembers initial “move back” discussions with returnees upon her repatriation about our generation being different. Boiled down into a few points:
– Unlike our parents, when we left at age 18, we are purposefully returning at age 27-37
– Unlike our parents, when we attained the best education, we are returning to teach these systems
– Unlike our parents, as we developed a new work ethic, we are coming back to take senior roles, run companies, start businesses and instill this mind set into our society
– Unlike our parents, we have left behind the “comfortable” life of Verizon Fios and flashy malls and have found ourselves in the villages tilling the soil or in the country evaluating health processes or giving out loans to those who would otherwise not have access. We are taking the risks and opening our own companies.
If you haven’t moved back (yet?) but your heart is nodding, that’s not a mistake. It would definitely help to know some basics before you move back. If you are recently back and kicking yourself because the rough patches seem endless, remind yourself of who you are, why you came and what your role can be within this new generation conducting a train of progress. Your story will be different from your parents. It will be better, and that’s what they made many of their moves in life for. Don’t jump unprepared, but know that whatever your decision, you are supported and not alone.
This is Episode 2 in THE AKWAABA PROJECT that seeks to guide returnees and others looking to move back to Ghana.
~By Awoyaa Mensah