Jay Donaldson: Leaving for Ghana—the final countdown to freedom


Pittsburgh resident Jay Donaldson is heading back to Ghana—for good

by “Papa J X”, Jay Donaldson, For New Pittsburgh Courier

It’s been over two years since I last left Ghana.

It was May 16, 2020, when I was able to get a flight back to the U.S. This was during the “Plan-Demic,” the borders were closed and there was a restriction on travel within the country. I had gone to Ghana for a monthlong visit. It was my third time visiting the sovereign country.

The restrictions made it impossible for me to see what I had planned to see and visit in West Africa. I had recently obtained my results from my DNA probe from Ancestry.com. I was now aware of my heritage and former nations which my foreparents came from. My results revealed that my family came from the sub-Sahara regions which are said to be everything south of the Sahara desert. It was explained to me countries which carried my DNA were; Mali, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, and Cameroon. All these countries are in the West African regions. They also gave me the White side or other side of my DNA, which, of course, is why we all know about St. Patrick’s Day and other Pagan days in the U.S. I never felt good about the celebration, Saint Patty’s Day, nor the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag… “For liberty and justice for ALL,” obviously a huge lie that all people of color had to hear all our lives. Growing up in the Mon Valley in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, I saw it all, from the Civil Rights movement to present-day. I knew this country had plenty issues that were not going away, but like a marriage, you work at it and it gets better. Instead, the U.S. wants to forget it! Even teaching that slavery was a walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon. We all know it wasn’t. So why lie? Or mislead the younger generation.

The biggest holiday, the 4th of July, we Blacks love to celebrate this day. Back in 1776 we were still slaves so what are we doing having a good time and thinking we’re free. We’re not!! We weren’t then and still not free.

To leave America at this time in my life is a good fortune and a true blessing. Why? I am retired from work which I have been working since I was 14 years old. But I worked various jobs since I was 8 or 9. My social security has kicked in along with my government pension. I own property in Florida which I am in the process of renting out. So I have more than one stream of income. I built up equity in my mortgage and refinanced to have yet another stream of income to use for investments and home repairs and other expenses I may incur in Ghana or my property in Florida.


I FIRST WENT to Ghana in 2017, then in 2018 and again in 2020. The “year of return” was 2019, which I did not go to Ghana that year. Many did go back to visit Ghana for that purpose alone. My year of return is of my own making and not anyone else’s. The Ghanaian government took in a whopping $3.3 billion from the “year of return.” It all came from African Americans, Jamaicans, Blacks in the United Kingdom, and other Caribbean nations. There are an estimated 5,000 African Americans now living permanently in Ghana. I have interviewed many and spoke to many as well. I have met owners of restaurants, the owners of the African Ancestor Wall, Guest House owners and a Rabbi from New York and many more while I was on the road traveling around. We all pass for African or Ghanaians until we speak. See, they know who we are when we open our mouths and talk. They even have a name for us, they call us “OB-RANI” meaning a foreigner. If you’re from another country or land you’re an “OB-RANI.” And you thought since you were Black you could just fit in and be counted as a local; sorry, you don’t fit in, at least not right away. There’s a big difference in the way we dress when we visit Ghana, also there’s a difference in the way we eat and which hand to use when interacting with the locals in Ghana. Always use your “right hand” when shaking someone’s hand while in Ghana, please. The left hand is considered “unclean.” Use your right hand to eat your meals, no forks and spoons are used unless you request them. If you’re out in public you will see many Ghanaians eating off the same plate of food. This is very common in Ghana; in fact, it’s their way of life to share and they will invite you to come in eat with them saying, “You’re invited.”


You may want to ship a vehicle or a container to Ghana or somewhere in the West African regions. You can check the rates by getting in touch with the proper shipping agencies online. You can also make traveling agreements online months ahead of time to get a better ticket price. If you’re taking children across the waters with you, you will need to check for the latest shots due for you and your children. Animals are good to travel as well. An updated government passport is needed and Ghana requires a yellow fever shot and the COVID shots. Also, I have a “Valid Entry Visa” that you’ll need as well. Average cost for a Visa is $100. Passports will run you about $125.

Everything is cheaper when you buy at the marketplaces, such as clothes. They will name a price, you can go back and forth until you settle on a fair price. Fair exchanges are usually settled. I visited an elder friend near Cape Coast, Brother Simba, from Columbus, Ohio. He’s been in Ghana since the late ‘90s. He married a woman from Ghana and he has built a guest house for extra income to add to his streams of income. What I plan on doing is buying a property that I stayed in during the “Plan-Demic.” Turning it into “MURALS OF HEROES & LEGENDS,” it’s on the beach off the Atlantic Ocean. Making this a must-see spot for all who comes to Ghana for a visit.

It’s heating up in the U.S. for all the wrong reasons. Election time is here again. I’ve seen a divide over many things. Race, rising prices, bad politics, gas, inflation, recent rulings over abortion, and that’s just the beginning of the problems. We are posing as a first-world country, but our leaders are worse than third-world countries. The rise of the very radical right wing groups that invaded the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was enough for me to say “Good Bye” to the U.S.

These right wing radicals aren’t going away! They have an agenda that’s to take control of the government and keep the borders closed to all people of color. My safety comes first for me and my family. The police killings of Black men and women have a big impact on my decisions. I have young sons, daughters and grandsons, even a great grandson. I want to live in a place where they can live in peace and harmony without being judged by their skin. Like Stevie Wonder has said, he’s leaving the U.S. for Ghana soon because he doesn’t want his grandchildren to live in a place where they are not wanted and treated badly! For those who think it will get better, has it really in the past 50 years? I’ll be living in peace and building prosperity and generational wealth.




What I really want to stress is how I felt when I first got off the plane and hit Ghana’s soil for the first time. I realized that in Ghana, I am not a Black man, I am a MAN. There’s a feeling of relief that one can never quite explain. After years of knowing and living in the decaying system in which we live in the U.S., it’s nothing like that in Ghana. I can go into the shopping malls and markets to buy things and not be harassed, or followed. I have gotten stopped by the local police during the “Plan-Demic,” but I wasn’t worried or feared for my life in Ghana. I have a sense of ownership in this land. I am a Ghanaian as long as I keep my mouth shut, no one will ever know I am a Black American. When you’re walking late at night and you see a patrol car, you can rest assure that they will pass you by and not stop to ask for an ID, or name, or, “Where are you going this time of night?”

I feel alive in the land. Free of danger in every way. I never even witnessed a fistfight or a loud argument in Ghana. I am sure there’s crime and wrongdoing in this sovereign and Republic land. Ghana only gained independence on March 6, 1957. I was 7 years young then, and knew nothing about Africa except Tarzan the Apeman. I found out about racism before I was 10, when I couldn’t be a cub scout in the local West Homestead cub scout pact. I did what we all must do; start our own scout pack and organize it just like the White neighborhood scouts do.

A young Ghana nation has plenty of flaws. But, what makes me very delighted is when I see people there that look like me in charge of EVERYTHING. Ghana is improving every day by listening and engaging to us Black Americans and us becoming citizens of Ghana. My goal is to build properties and businesses, own land, and having generations follow, making the full circle a reality, from where we came from…and the RETURN.






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