Diaspora Connect August 25, 2022 at 01:38 pm

Connecting back with African roots, what keeps people from the diaspora staying on after a visit?

Vanessa Calys-Tagoe August 25, 2022 at 01:38 pm

August 25, 2022 at 01:38 pm | Diaspora Connect

Year of Return: Attendees at the Full Circle Festival pose for a group photograph. Photo: Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture of Ghana

For many Blacks, connecting with their African roots is something just as important as taking in water every day. A connection to the ancestor who fought and paved the way for others to fight for their rights and independence as well as a place in the world is something Black people outside of Africa wish to do. 

The year 2019 saw an increased number of Black people traveling to Africa, especially Ghana, for the ‘Year of Return’. Returnees who made the trip were excited to learn about some African history like the ‘Door of No Return’ at the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana among many other historical landmarks in the country. 

For many, it was a break from the daily buzzing and hustle seen in the West. The period in Africa was to be a short time; a time to reflect and learn as much as one could about the history of Ghana and how it connects to the West and other African countries.

However, what was to be a vacation of sorts turned out to be a very long holiday and subsequently, it’s now permanent residency for some. 

A lot of people from the diaspora have decided to settle down in Ghana and locals sometimes question why. The reason for their stay is mostly necessitated by various factors ranging from the feeling at peace and at home to economic and work-related factors that make the African country a better place of residence than their place in the West. 

Feeling at home and at peace

For a lot of people from the diaspora, a visit to Ghana is a breath of fresh air for them. In conversations, they often bring up how much peace and serenity they experience here and how they would love to continuously experience that so they stay on. 

For others, it’s just good to be at home. Connect with family and have a chance to learn more about history all the while enjoying Ghanaian culture and that has to do with it. 

The sense of belonging only goes on to assure returnees that they made a good decision to stay back and enjoy the fun at all levels and not only to come and go every now and then. 

The economic and work related factors 

The ‘Year of Return’ in Ghana opened the gates for a lot of investors and businessmen to survey the country and test the fertility for the setup of businesses. Many found the economic space fertile enough to start up some businesses and in all of the nation’s capital new businesses have sprung up. Some owned by people from the diaspora or co-owned by them. 

There are instances where, for some, work brought them to Ghana and because of work they have to stay on and they are enjoying it. 

The nightlife and party-filled lifestyle of many Ghanaians add a flavor to it and so many were encouraged to stay. 

There is another; students who left the shores of Ghana to study abroad eventually became a part of the diaspora and now have returned. 

A conversation with one of such students who has recently launched a food delivery service in the country shows that it’s not really about loving home so much or coming back to one’s roots, but it’s about making a difference where it matters most. 

This gentleman has one food delivery service launched (financed by him). He’s looking at launching another soon and expanding his knowledge of fintech. According to him, “there’s nothing that has not been done. The only thing left to do is to find loopholes and find solutions to them to create something new and that is what I am looking at doing.”

Sadly, the dreams of all these returnees may be shattering as Ghana continues to record abysmal depreciation of the cedi day in, day out. The free fall of the cedi may initiate a likely loss of investor confidence; investor confidence that led most of these returnees to stay on in Ghana. 

However, for the most part, the majority of returnees who stayed on still love it and for some, they would never trade their life here for anything. They are still connecting to their roots and they love the peace and joy they experience here. 

While investors may be right to have second thoughts about their businesses set up here, it’s an open secret that while the economy may be struggling, all the fun places, restaurants, clubs, pubs, beaches and the rest are still filled during the day and night. 

The fun, love, peace and general ambience of the country are probably still keeping returnees staying on and they are what will keep returnees who would come back this year tempted to stay on. 

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