It’s Tuesday morning, I’m drinking my Hausa Koko and planning my tasks for the day when my partner calls me to watch Kendrick Lamar’s performance at the Grammys. I missed it because I spent all night debating the role the Ghanaian-Diaspora play in the development of Ghana with my newly acquired Sierra Leonean friends.
My argument was most ‘returnees’ had a romanticized view of Ghana and needed to accept that until we address our ingrained lack of direction at the national level, all our efforts were going to waste. “Dziffa, regardless of how you see it, the Diaspora returning and seeing problems as opportunities has contributed to Ghana’s growth. In Sierra Leone, we do not have such a high rate of sophisticated Diaspora returning so we are still economically where Ghana was a few years ago.”
I rush to YouTube to watch Kendrick’s performance. Hearing an African American man proudly say ‘I’m African-American, I’m African’ and placing his neighborhood in America inside the African map is by far one of my most proudest moments. Growing up in the Bronx, being African was an insult. The African-American kids would either call us ‘f**king African’ as an insult or make fun of our blackness. I could not relate to my friends who complained of racism from white people because all the racism I experienced were from my African-American classmates.
Granted, a lot has changed since my elementary and high school days; I had many conscious African-American friends in college who knew more about Africa than I did and some of my customers at Dziffa even reach out to me about my experience with starting a business in Ghana and my thoughts on them moving to Ghana. As many blacks are reclaiming their Blackness, we come to a point where we need to address exactly what to do with our drive to redefine our Blackness.
Do we wait until next February to showcase our Black Pride? Do we wait till the next shooting to rally against a system we all know doesn’t favor the Black man? Or do we find an alternative, actively participating in creating the Africa Marcus Garvey and Nkrumah dreamt of? The Africa we all yearn for.
As Malcolm X eloquently said in The Ballet or the Bullet,“ I am one who doesn’t believe in deluding myself. I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate.” We are fortunate to be in a generation where the narrative of Africa isn’t of backwardness, war, and pity, but an Africa of opportunities and possibilities. Our siblings in America do not have to pray, beg, and fight to be invited to the table; they can move to Africa and make their own dinner.
The beautiful thing about relocating to Africa is you begin to see yourself as a human being, not a minority who always has to prove his worth. All the mental shackles of growing up Black in America will be broken. You begin to see problems as business opportunities and really appreciate how easy it is to start a business and grow it (at least in the case of Ghana where many African-Americans have relocated to).
So please, if you find America overbearing and feel as though you cannot continue to beg for that which is your human right, come to Africa. Most of our leaders have grown to accept their “Third World Status” as the norm and are not in a hurry to pursue excellence let alone aspire to surpass or, at least, be equal with our Western and Southern Donors. If anyone would develop this continent it would be you, the Africans in the Diaspora and Blacks globally. Your drive for a better Africa, optimism in the continent’s potential, and ambition to take charge of your destinies will help us recreate a continent that is befitting of our ancestors. The next generation of Blacks will not feel trapped in a place they are not welcomed and the next generation of Africans will not feel the need to flee and live as third-class citizens elsewhere because we would have built the infrastructure they need to thrive in Africa.
By: Dzifa Akua Ametam, founder of Dziffa.com : an online marketplace for authentic handmade African products. She is based in Ghana and makes it easy for you to shop directly from Africa. You can follow her on twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.