With the recent phenomenon of going back to Africa by people of African descent aka African-Americans as well as the Caribbean, this has become a “Wakanda” moment of jubilation for the Motherland. Whereby, there’s a fascination or infatuation to travel and visit Africa for the first time or revisit for another time. Historically speaking, this isn’t the first nor shall it be the last of such a want or need to have an emotional connection to Africa by people who identify and embrace being African from the diaspora.
Throughout the 19th century, there was a return to Africa movement from the USA and the Caribbean to Liberia. Thousands of free Black-Americans relocated to Liberia as a means of going against chattel enslavement and overt racism in the US . Meanwhile, a few African-Caribbean people relocated to Gambia. Many more either attended the biennial International Roots Festival (formerly Homecoming) to support or build community projects .
Since 1955, Henderson Travel Service , the first and oldest black-owned travel company in America, has sent hundreds to thousands of tourists to Africa. Other travel & tour companies have followed thereafter to do similar excursions and trips to the same continent.
After Ghana gained its independence from Britain on March 6, 1957, Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah brought Trinidadian-born political activist, George Padmore to Ghana, where he was given oversight of the African Affairs bureau. Although he died in London, Padmore’s ashes were buried in Accra on October 4, 1959 . The Black-American Pan-Africanist, W.E.B. Du Bois also relocated to Ghana and died in Accra on August 27, 1963 as a Ghanaian citizen .
In 1966, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia visited Barbados, Trinidad, Haiti, and Jamaica and advocated for repatriation to his African country. This helped to accelerate the resettlement program of a few thousand African descendants, mostly Jamaicans, relocating to Shashamane .
Although African-Americans have been traveling and touring Africa at a decent rate from the 1960s till now, there’s a segment of this demographic who are moving to Africa for career and business opportunities in areas of trade, education, telecommunication, banking, healthcare, and sustainable development. Thousands have come from big cities like San Francisco, Chicago, New York , or elsewhere and have opted to stay in Africa for good. In addition, countries like Ghana are actively attracting African-American retirees thanks to its relatively easy immigration rules and regulations.
The 2000 Immigration Act provides the African Diaspora with a Right of Abode status, which means they have an indefinite right to live and work in Ghana permanently, without facing the need for visas or any other restrictions. In addition, the 2000 Citizenship Act allows the African Diaspora to apply for Ghanaian citizenship. A cohort of 34 people, mainly from the Caribbean, was the first to receive citizenship certificates, in 2016 .
Fast forward to October 2018 and Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo declared 2019 as “The Year of Return.” This initiative is having a series of programs that seek to encourage people of African descent to make the “birthright journey home for the global African family.” Underscored by The United States Congress recently passed Act 400 Years of African-American Experience Act to recognize the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in 1619.
A new wave of African-Americans are leaving the United States to live in African countries, such as Senegal, Ghana, and Gambia . Thus, expat communities are emerging throughout Africa.
It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 African-Americans live in Accra, the Ghanaian capital . They are teachers in small towns of Ghana or entrepreneurs in the city of Accra.
There’s a present and future generation of African descendants who are very much interested and connected to African culture and tradition. In some decades from now, Africa is bound to become a colorful melting pot of diversity. As the world shifts to more and more people being of browner complexion, the more humanity shall migrate back to their original roots in Africa, especially those of African descent.