Moving to Ghana to Escape America?

Greener grass has its own problems



Photo by Kelly Vohs on Unsplash

When Ghana’s President Jerry Rawlings visited the United States in 1999, he offered citizenship to all black Americans that wished to live in Ghana.

Hundreds of black Americans decided to relocate, and in 2001 the Wall Street Journal published an essay called: For African-Americans in Ghana, the grass isn’t always greener.

In Ghana, the essayist explained, black Americans discovered malaria was rampant, electricity and water were often interrupted, and wages were meager by US standards. Black Americans also discovered they weren’t welcomed like Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings promised.

The Ghanaians called the black Americas “obruni”, which means “white” or “foreigner” in the local language.

Black Americans that relocated to Ghana also wondered if they needed to start a civil rights movement to obtain equal and fair treatment. Ghana banned American residents from government jobs. Hospitals charged Americans higher fees. Americans could not vote in elections or participate in local politics.

In 2019, Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, announced “The Year of Return” to celebrate the 400-year anniversary of when the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America. This was a call for all descendants from the African continent living abroad to return to Ghana and celebrate the “resilience of the African spirit”.

The next year, an unarmed black man, George Floyd, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which launched a world-wide protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

Ghana’s officials gave another invitation to black Americans. This time, Ghana was promoted as a place of refuge.

By 2021, OMG Voice (social news for the Ghanaian Millennial) published a headline that said: Here’s why over 5,000 black Americans have moved to Ghana since 2019. The consensus amongst this new group of black Americans that relocated to Ghana was that the police killing of George Floyd proved that black Americans were not safe in the United States.

DeNeen L. Brown recently published an essay in the Washington Post called: The case for leaving America to escape…




J. Pharoah Doss is a columnist for the New Pittsburgh Courier.