One of the most frequent questions I got as a kid was, were there lions roaming the streets in Sierra Leone, where my father came from. Although at that time, I had never been to Sierra Leone or Africa, in particular, I knew that it was not true. After all, the only stories my father ever shared with me involved white sandy beaches, cliffs you could jump into the water from and the lush green hills that he played in. As I grew older though, I realized that many of my African- American counterparts subscribed to the fact that Africa was some wild, indigenous place where naked warriors lived. I am sure this was an idea inadvertently passed down from the generations before, but nonetheless, I always found it odd that people thought that.
At 30 though, it still amazes me how many African- Americans see Africa as some wild, unexplored territory that only the bravest men conquer. When I first told people I was moving to Africa, I was amazed at the reaction of some of my more educated friends. Many people asked if I knew the local language, although English is the official language of Ghana. I must say, even if it wasn’t, I still have learned most Africans speak English. After all, Americans are the only people who feel it’s ok to know only one language. Others asked me how I would deal with the power outages, unaware that most middle and upper class people have generators here. I wanted to respond that they should be more afraid of America’s deteriorating power system that can give out any minute. At least Africans are prepared with an alternative power supply. Then of course, there was the inevitable question, “Aren’t there lions there?” I responded, “Yes, at the wildlife sanctuary.”
So yes, I must say, I was and am still amazed about how little so many African-Americans really know about Africa. Since I have been in Africa, I have been in some of the most immaculate homes I ever seen. I have been to estates with huge gates that are adorned with marble floors, chandeliers from European countries and some of the best granite furniture the world has to offer. I have had the opportunity to ride in more luxury cars than I ever did in the States, and most importantly, it is not just the older generation, it is some of the younger generation as well. I must also mention that it is real wealth; everything they have is paid for in cash and not on credit- imagine that.
I have learned, Africa is a quickly developing country that has opportunities for entrepreneurs old and young alike. It doesn’t mean that you are going to make a quick buck here, but it is assured that if you are smart, patient and can penetrate the system that you will be greatly rewarded. Plus, I believe in these tough economic times in the States, it is time for many people to start thinking outside of the box, and yes, this means Africa. After all, where else can you go and in two years amass enough money to build two four bedroom houses, buy three cars, have a gateboy, maid and a cook. According to my 27 year –old friend, who has done just that, only in Africa.