‘Come Back Home,’ to Ghana, writes longtime Pittsburgh resident Jay Donaldson

JAY DONALDSON, in the white shirt, with fellow African Americans who also were visiting Ghana.

My first visit to Ghana this past summer of 2018 was filled with expected adventure, pleasures, learning. I did not know how I would be accepted. My thoughts were that I may be taken advantage of as a foreigner.
I held my guard up for what may be the unexpected. My passion/love for my Black people gave me strength; I now know that there’s a plenty we didn’t know about our past.
The Ghanaians are the humble and peaceful people. The time I spent there, over a month and a half, I saw no violence or shooting or fighting. I traveled on the road and I took taxis, I walked, I ran…I watched a lot a news and there’s just not a lot of crime and NO GUNS! I was able to do business with a few of the locals. I was treated well and was very happy with what I bought.

If you’re thinking about visiting Ghana you will first need a passport, then you must apply for a visa to get to Ghana. Must have a medical shot to fight against yellow fever infection. Get your tickets three or four months in advance, either alone or with a tour—you will save if you purchase early online.
When I arrived in the country it was the hottest time of the year. The temperature was 100 degrees every day. I was out in it most days. In the market district was the most intense heat. What do you get when you get 10,000 Blacks crowed in a small area? BLACK HEAT!! I loved it! The walks got me closer to the neighborhood, where I saw a local soccer match.
On Sundays everyone’s on their way to a Sunday Sermon—you’ll hear shouts and singing from a distance, music playing, tambourines and drums, with hands clapping. It will bring joy to your heart, it’s pure soul filled with heavenly harmonies.
Getting around is a major problem if you’re without a car. I always asked the fare before I went anywhere. I got familiar with one or two drivers in the area. Of course, they will jack the price when they hear your English. I took long walks and drank a lot a water. My choice of movement long-distance was the “choo-choo”—If you ever wanted to be close to somebody you have to take a choo-choo. It’s essentially a modified van which transports many passengers beyond its capacity.
So I rode in the choo-choo for many, many miles to the outskirts and rural areas. I saw plush vegetation and green valleys and hills, mountaintops filled with huge trees. I saw many different tribes at stops. A group of Fulanis were in town—they are nomads and live in the desert plains and raise cattle. They are Muslim people and make up a small percentage of the population in Ghana. I always ask what tribe they come from, but only if I am having an in-depth conversation with the person.
I know I am from one of those tribes and that is what Black people now want to know. The harsh injustices in America have convinced many that the U.S. is not the only place you can make a living and right now, America doesn’t seem particularly safe for Black men.
If you are young and have the skills in what they are looking for, you should consider a country in Africa. Many are predicting that it’s the next China due to its many natural resources, oil, gold, diamonds. Ghana was once called “The Gold Coast” before its independence. A great time to visit is during the Independence celebration. Also the holiday season is a good time to come. Ghanaian government has a Right to Abode for Black Americans to come back to Ghana and get a citizenship and stay as long as you want. It’s a first for any country on the continent of Africa to introduce anything like it. Now if you’re worried about the money exchange you will be happy to know that the exchange is 4.7 GHS (Ghana currency) to 1 U.S. dollar. Not bad if you’re spending time there and getting a social security retirement check.
I visited Cape Coast in Ghana, which was visited by First Lady Melania Trump—I think it’s in very bad taste for the way they market the historical Slave Quarters. It’s visited by thousands. The shores of Cape Coast is where the slave trade flourished in the 1600s. The town was colonized by the British and French and the Portuguese. There are over 3,000 Black Americans now living in Ghana.
While I was there I met many Black Americans just by walking around and going to the beaches. You can easily meet locals because they all speak good English. I checked in with the AAAG (African American Association of Ghana), which was started by Black Americans. They help other Blacks that come to Ghana to visit, or who choose to stay for good, in the adjustment to Ghana’s way of life.
The civil rights legend W.E.B. Du Bois came to live in Ghana in the ‘20s and they have a center named for him near the U.S. Embassy in Accra. I met two of the members of the AAAG at their headquarters, which is very close to the U.S. Embassy.
I love to travel, and Africa as a continent has all the mystery and adventure that you could yearn for. It’s a pivotal and important time for all Black people in the U.S., but one thing we all know—Africa is where all life began and flourished before any other way of life.
From Ethiopia, which has the Arc of the Covenant, to Kemit (Egpyt), where you’ll find the Pyramids and the Sphinx, to the gold mines in South Africa, Africa should be on every Black person’s “bucket list” to visit.
As one of my friends from Ghana would say, “Come Back Home.”

THE INTERVIEWS, conducted by Jay Donaldson



BABA RAA EL, from Chicago, Illinois. A Moorish American who came to Ghana in 2005. He is building a property on 1\4 of acres of land in the Cape Coast region of Ghana. I asked him how difficult was it to get land here in Ghana as an African American? He replied, “That you need to get a local resident who is connected with the right folks.” He explained that, “You come take it all in for a year or so then watch and see who is true and honest.” He also mentioned that medical care is good here and very affordable.


THERESA SCOTT KWAKYE (KWACHIE), born in Newana, Georgia. She formerly lived in D.C. Moved to Ghana first in 1985. She moved to Ghana with her 5-month-old baby boy and husband who is Ghanaian. She is Ghanaian, also. Theresa expressed that she finds the people here much like the folks in the South, “back home,” she says. She mentioned that she worked many jobs when she arrived here. Her first was with the Mormons. She also worked at Data Bank, and she taught at Ghana International School, and now working at the Univ. of Ghana. In 1991 at the start of the African American Association of Ghana, she was the one of the first members, and now she is the President. I wanted to know the mission of the AAAG. She says that the mission is to expose the Ghanaians to our cultures and history as well as to educate Diasporians here in Ghanaian culture. I asked her why should Black Americans move or visit to Ghana. Her reply was to come be educated about Ghana and share each one’s culture. I was happy to finally meet someone from the AAAG here, they have been very helpful in finding me people from the USA to interview and speak with. They set up a meeting with me at the W.E.B Du Bois Center near the US Embassy in Accra. It was a long journey from where I was staying, about an hour ride. The AAAG meets once a month in a building they have provided for them. I would encourage anyone who visits Ghana to seek them out, and find out whats going on in Ghana.


MARIA DANIELS, from Chicago, Illinois. Raised in Southern California. First visited Ghana in 2002. Stayed for 30 days, came back to Ghana in 2005 to stay for good. “My purpose for coming was to start a business in the dairy industry,” she says. I asked her what challenges she faced when starting up her business. “Buying land from the person and the banks here do not offer loans for large projects.” She has built a house and owns 641 acres in Akuse (AKU-SE). Her plans are to create satellite cities, for returning African Americans to Ghana. (Real-life Wakanda in the making…) Her vision was seen and created back in 1998 and now she thinks Africa is ready to accept her to do it. She also has an interest in opening entertainment venues, local community programs, etc. Maria also holds the position of Finance Secretary for the African American Association of Ghana. She was very helpful in finding me affordable living while in Accra. As she mentioned to me, “That is what we do (AAAG), help visitors who come here from the USA in any way we can help them find their way around Ghana.”


IVY PROSPER, born in Tema, Ghana, moved to Canada with her parents at 2 years old. She suggests that people from the West should try talking slower, and use your right hand when reaching for something and shaking hands. She’s a writer, a TV host. 


BRENDA JOYCE, from Pittsburgh. Brenda has been in Ghana for over 20 years having been to many other countries in Africa as well. I was happy to finally meet her while I stayed in the Osu area of Accra. She is an International Gemologist, Worldwide Marketer of Precious Metals and Gems, Business Development Advisor, Public Affairs Expert, Government Relations Specialist. According to Miss Joyce, her upbringing started a while back in Pittsburgh. She says her grandfather, a church pastor, stood her on a piano and had her sing for the congregation. At the age of 16 Brenda was a concert artist, and performed music in concert venues in her native Pittsburgh and throughout the Northwest part of the U.S. Brenda got her first degree in music education from Indiana University. Fast forward to her more than 30 years experience representing multi-national corporations and foreign governments. I wanted to find out where the music was in Accra while I was in town and Brenda, being a highly-skilled musician and singer, offered to take me to a local jam where I could even sit in and play my acoustic guitar I brought along with me. It turned out that the place where the weekly jam is held was also a great place to meet other singers and musicians. I got a chance to play a few blues standards and few Bob Marley songs with a very good band there in the Jamestown section of Accra. I want to learn more about what else that Miss Joyce did because, well, she’s done so many things. I told her that her being a Pittsburgh native, surely she has many family members, fans and friends who are wondering what she has been up to over the years. She mentioned that she has been very busy in marketing and product development and wholesale and retail distribution of precious metals and gem products in South Africa and West Africa. She is a certified Gemologist. Brenda also was the past President of the AAAG (African American Association of Ghana). She helped me in so many ways to find more Black Americans to meet and interview. 


KOFI MEROE, age 30

Born in Cincinnati, but has lived in Ghana since 1999-2000. Went to school in Ghana. “I feel a sense of freedom.” More guarded in the U.S., he added. He majored in hospitality at the GIS, the Ghana International School in the British System. I asked Kofi what he might say to Black Americans who wish to visit or come back to Ghana. His response? “Come find a way to come and experience the country for yourself, you will find a piece of yourself here, the capabilities here are so vast.” Kofi is the son of Masao Meroa, who is the owner of the Sankofa Beach house.


Masao Meroa, 62, from various parts of the U.S., has been in Ghana for over 18 years. I asked him why did you leave the U.S. His reply was, “Cause black lives don’t matter. ” A lawyer by trade, he also lived in Nigeria for 5 years. He and his wife, who is from New York, started Sankofa Investments, then turned it into a Bread and Breakfast, and now Sankofa Beach House. I walked the spacious and well-proportioned oasis and had a feeling of rapture, tranquility and fascination. Masao offered me one of his Sankofa signature swigs (a drink) to which I declined and had an ice cold bottle of water. Sankofa Beach House is in the Village of Langma, West Kokrobite, nearly 30 miles south of the city of Accra. I just happened to be in the area at a nearby beachfront called Big Milly’s Backyard. I got a call from the local African American Association of Ghana and was informed that I may be able to catch a few potential people to interview just up the road. I was impassioned when I learned this and immediately embarked to what would be my very first interview in such close range. Upon my arrival to the Sankofa Beach House I was overtaken by the bold smell of the ocean and calm breeze. Sankofa sits on almost 4 acres of beachfront property with a large, grass open space. I was happy to meet his son and daughter who both lived in Ghana as children and were schooled there. Masoa and his family just had a huge party the night before, and I could tell it was one gathering I would have of been delighted to attend. Sankofa Beach House is a premier destination to host events. In addition to rooms, the Beach House is a destination for “Day Visitors” who come for the serenity, lazying in the sun, ocean swimming, beach walks and their custom lunch/food service. Their website is www.sankofabeachhouse.com


Nathaniel Henderson, 70 years old, from Columbus, Ohio. I was walking on the beach one morning I spoke to a man,  “Good morning”…he replied the same, “Good morning” in perfect English. I knew I had my next person to interview. He called himself Bro Simba. We sat and talked a while and he offered me tea at his place up the road a bit, so off we went. We reached his place in a few minutes, not far from Kokobite beach where i was staying. He and his Ghanaian wife live alone. They are building another home for visitors, an investment property, he explained. Nate showed me around his home while his wife fixed me a bite to eat; hot porage and bun. He took me to a room that was filled with Afro-Centric books. He offered me one and I accepted. I wanted to know how long he was in Ghana. He told me he had been in Ghana for 15 years. He also considers himself a Pan-African. He is a retired janitor and also spent time in the U.S. Air Force. While in Columbus he mentioned that he produced shows on the local cable station. We talked about the Ghanaian Government permitting the U.S. to set up a military post in the country near the capital, Accra. Nate mentioned that it would not be a good idea if they did. “This would only invite an opposition that may lead to violence and mayhem.” There have been many countrymen who oppose this idea, also. Henderson then showed me a news article that he had written not long ago where he expressed his concerns about the plans of the U.S. base in Ghana. If you would like to email Mr. Henderson about his stay in Ghana his email is,  Simbanat@yahoo.com.



From Gary, Indiana, she came to Ghana in 2002, “in search of my Roots.” She came for one month, and mentioned that she was tricked into going to the slave castles (or dungeons as they are also known) in Cape Coast, Ghana. I asked her how she was tricked, and what led to that. Well, she sighs, “I was in a taxi and I told the driver I was scared, and wish not to see that part of Cape Coast, but the driver took me there anyways. When we arrived to the Castles and dungeons I had a supernatural experience, like a vision of myself as a slave being carried away in chains. It totally changed my life.”  That was back in 2009. She’s a high Sanusni traditional healer in the Zuzu tribe, Credo Mutwa; a high Sangomas, the highest order in healing power.


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