Posted on August 28, 2019

The African American Who Moved to Ghana ‘To Escape US Racism’

Favour Nunoo, BBC, August 24, 2019

Having vowed to quit the US after being the victim of what he believed was a racially motivated arrest by police officers, African American Obadele Kambon relocated to Ghana in 2008 — and has never looked back.

Mr Kambon has now built a successful life in the place that was once at the heart of the slave trade, and enjoys the freedom which, he says, was denied to him in the US, his birthplace.

He says he no longer looks over his shoulder, worrying that police will pull him over or, worse still, kill his son. This was the fate that befell 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was shot dead in a park in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014 while playing with a pellet gun that police said they thought was real.

‘Wrongly arrested’

The young boy’s death sparked protests in Cleveland, and became a focal point for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Mr Kambon says the turning point in his life came in 2007. He was arrested and put on trial in Chicago — where he lived — after being accused by police officers of having a loaded firearm under his car seat and intending to commit a drive-by shooting. In fact, he had an unloaded licensed gun, used earlier to secure a campsite, in his car boot.

Mr Kambon recalls that he was shocked by the charges and as he sat in the court, he vowed: “Never again will I allow myself to be in a jurisdiction where corrupt white police officers and a judge will take me away from my family, wife and kids just on a whim.”

Mr Kambon — who was a young academic teaching at schools and universities in the Chicago area – was eventually cleared of the charge. He then saved up about $30,000 (£24,000) and relocated to Ghana’s capital, Accra, the following year.

He was joined by his wife Kala, and the couple now have three children — Ama, Kwaku and Akosua.

Immersed in African spirituality

Mr Kambon started his doctoral studies in linguistics at the University of Ghana in 2009 and now teaches at its Institute of African Studies.

Since moving to Ghana, he has noticed that he no longer feels he is a victim of racial profiling or racial abuse.

He points out that his friend felt likewise when he relocated, and quipped: “Wow, this is what it must feel like to be a white person in America, just to be able to live without worrying that something is going to happen to you.”