Accra, Ghana — 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.
The Elmina Castle on Ghana’s Atlantic coast is more than 5,000 miles from American shores, but the five-century old structure occupies a particularly dark place in U.S. history. Hundreds of years ago, it was a central trading hub where African people from around the continent were sold into slavery.
As the U.S. continues to confront its racist past, Ghana is turning that history upside down, and welcoming Black Americans back home.
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.
“I was living what people would consider the American dream,” she told Patta. “I was educated, professional. I had friends. I was a socialite… but I never felt safe.”
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.