Posted on September 26, 2021

Why Some Black Americans Are Leaving the U.S. To Reclaim Their “Destiny” in Ghana

CBS News, September 21, 2021

In 2019, Ghana’s president invited African descendants in the diaspora to mark the “Year of Return,” commemorating 400 years since the first Africans arrived in the colony now known as Virginia on a slave ship. The invite prompted record tourism to Ghana, and an increase in Americans who applied for visas to stay.

But it was the events in the United States in 2020, and the Black Lives Matter movement, that drove a real surge in people looking to move out of America and into Africa.


Sonjiah Davis was the epitome of Washington cool. She was a well-connected, successful therapist trained to deal with emotional health. And yet, living in the capital of the United States, she says she was constantly looking over her shoulder.


Davis believes trauma is embedded in her DNA, from the transatlantic slave trade to the Tulsa race massacre in 1921 that saw some of her family displaced from their homes.

The trauma of racism, she said, was “beginning to take an emotional and psychological toll.”


Then George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a police officer in Minnesota sparked a global cry of outrage, demanding that all Black lives matter.

For Davis, it was a breaking point.


She had already visited Ghana in 2019, during the government’s Year of Return campaign. The publicity attracted a record number of tourists, and its aim was to convert visitors into residents.

Erieka Bennet, Head of the African Diaspora Forum, said that after George Floyd was killed, the organization was inundated with inquiries.

“It was just overloaded. Every day, at least — and this is no exaggeration — at least 300 people a day, saying, ‘How can we relocate to Ghana?’ It did spur a sense of people wanting to get out of America,” she said.

About 5,000 African Americans have made the trip back to Ghana and stayed.

“Home is not a place. It’s how you feel where you are,” said Bennet. “The feeling of belonging, the feeling of welcome and a sense of freedom.”

Just over a year ago, Davis traded her home in Washington D.C. for that sense of freedom.


“I think that as Black Americans, we’re starting to come to the realization of our place in America. We’re coming to understand that America was really never meant for us to be there, as free people.”

She said she left the United States in part to reclaim her own identity.

“I know that I am in control of myself, my destiny, my dreams and everything that I want for myself, and that my ancestors wanted for me,” she said.