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Ghana: Homecoming for African Americans

African Americans find new home in Ghana – gateway of the brutal African slave trade to the US that began 400 years ago.

Accra, Ghana – Afia Khalia Tweneboa Kodua, then a resident of Los Angeles, still remembers the day she left Ghana in 2011 on her first trip there.

“I am not a public emotional person so I got to the airport and asked [myself]: ‘what is this? Are those tears?”

“It was clear something had awoken in me and ignited in me and I have to come back. My ancestors are telling me; I have to come back,” she told Al Jazeera.

And so in 2017, she left Los Angeles, California and moved permanently to Accra, Ghana’s capital with her three young children.

On her first visit, she was known as Khalia Bennett. But she says her trip was so transformative, she “dropped her slave name” and legally changed her name “to complete my story.”

She took on Afia, the Asante traditional name given to girls born on Fridays, and took her new last name from a descendant of Yaa Asantewaa, a 19th-century queen in the Asante kingdom, who led a revolt against British colonialists.

Tweneboa Kodua now runs Goddess Touch Therapy, a massage therapy business serving a nascent but growing clientele of middle-class Ghanaians and often African American visitors to Ghana.

In 2001, Ghana’s parliament passed the Right to Abode law, which grants the descendants of enslaved Africans the right to stay in Ghana.

That law paved the way for people such as Tweneboa Kodua and other African Americans to move back to Ghana with more ease.

Cape Coast

Since independence in 1957, Ghana has explicitly cultivated people of African ancestry born in the Americas to not only visit, but potentially stay and invest their money and knowledge into the country.

Ghana has a dark history of being one of the main exit points, along the West African coast, where hundreds of thousands of African women and men were sold and shipped by European merchants from their towns to the Americas, as part of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the country was home to leading civil rights campaigners, writers and thinkers including W E B Du Bois and Maya Angelou. Malcom X, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King and his wife, Coretta Scott also made high-profile visits to the country.

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