By JR Valrey
Africa has always been a distant dream for Black people, in the Americas, that have thought about escaping this horrid, social, white supremacists imperial kingdom that the colonizers have created. The late Kwame Ture aka Stokley Carmichael, was one of the biggest advocates for the descendants of enslaved Africans to return to the Motherland, to assist in the creation of the United States of Africa. With the modern political creation of super-nations like the European Union, it is in Africa’s interest to tear down colonial borders on the continent, to allow capital and resources to pass through easier. In the information age, this is the only way to keep up with the modern world.
During the African independence explosion that was from the late 50’s to the 80’s, prominent revolutionary leaders from the continent like Kwame Nkrumah, Seku Ture, Patrice Lumumba, Samora Machel, Amilicar Cabral, Thomas Sankara, and others talked about building the United States of Africa. Muammar Qaddafi of Libya, before he was assassinated in 2011, helped to bring a strong Africa, a few steps closer to reality. He was responsible for shooting a communications satellite into the sky, which is still in operation, so that phone calls to Africa did not have to be routed through satellite owning non-African countries, saving the continent’s residents billions annually. Qaddafi also was responsible for the Great Man-Made River project, which was able to tap into an ocean of freshwater, that is under the Sahara Desert, that Africa could drink off of for the next 200 years. This was reportedly destroyed when the Obama/Clinton regime came in to overthrow the most successful country in Africa, for their neo-colonial agenda that has brought chattel slavery to the nation. We must remember that Qaddafi was assassinated primarily because he was working to put the Dinar, a newly created continental African currency made of pure gold, into effect which would have effectively handicapped North American, European, and Israeli imperialism.
To bring the history up until this very minute, I wanted to find the story of a seemingly ordinary Pan Africanist man, who at one time lived in Oakland and who decided to live out his dreams in the Black world of Ghana, West Africa, without hesitation. Kwame Nitoto is an elder that I met while he was employed at the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC), decades ago. His presence in our community was important because for many of us, he was the only responsible image of a Black man that we had, regularly in our lives. On the crack and meth infested streets of East Oakland, where Black men are swallowed up: murdered by the violence, given prison terms in the double and triple digits, or driven crazy by drug addiction mixed with oppression – Kwame Nitoto was that ray of hope that we could grab on to, to know that there is more to life than dying in the ghetto trap. Now that he escaped the confines of the concrete jungle, and made it to the other side of the world, he tapped back in to tell us first-hand what Ghana and Africa is like. We rarely get to hear a real life story of suffering in the hood, then triumph. That’s why I had to introduce and re-introduce y’all to our East Oakland Pan African pioneer and trailblazer who is happy and living well. Here is Kwame Nitoto in his own words.
JR Valrey: How did you end up coming to Accra for the first time? What’s the story behind that?
Kwame Nitoto: I came to Ghana in 2017 after a serious medical experience. I had a minor surgery that went bad and became a major surgery. Long story short, I almost died. When I stopped breathing and I thought I was gonna die, I began to think about all of the things that I promised myself that I would do, that I had not done. The most important thing was to come to Africa. Somehow I caught a breath and survived. The very next day my best friend who had just returned from Ghana, came to visit me in the hospital. He talked my ears off about Ghana, and stated that he was going back in six months. I knew that he was sent to get me, and I told him I would come with him and I did. When I got here, it all made sense.
JR Valrey: What did you see and feel in Ghana, that made you want to stay?
Kwame Nitoto: I felt a sense of excitement and joy from the very beginning of the journey. When I got on the ground in Ghana, I knew that something very special was happening in my life, and I felt very proud of myself for having the courage to complete the task of returning. The peace of mind that I feel everyday is irresistible, will not allow me to return to the insanity of the USA.
JR Valrey: What kinds of things did you have to do in the United States, in order to get ready to leave and live in Ghana?
Kwame Nitoto: It was really quite simple. I got my passport, my plane ticket, a visa and a yellow fever shot. That’s really all it takes. You don’t need a lot of money, the cost of living is almost nothing.
JR Valrey: Do you have dual citizenship? How difficult is the process?
Kwame Nitoto: I dont have dual citizenship right now, but I expect to get it this year. It is not difficult. The government of Ghana is making it easier than ever before right now.
JR Valrey: What did you say to your children, that are grown, that you left in Oakland? How did you explain that you were moving to Ghana?
Kwame Nitoto: I told my children that I was ready to leave the USA and experience life in Africa. I explained to them that I did not have any more confidence in the USA, and I believe that it is time for all African people to return to the Motherland. I told them that I would prepare a place for them, so whenever they are ready they can come.
JR Valrey: How did you get married so quickly? What did you see as the biggest difference between women in the US and women in Ghana?
Kwame Nitoto: lol. It wasn’t that quick. I waited a whole year before I even got involved with any women in Ghana. I wanted to heal from the trauma of living in the USA, and do some spiritual work first. I met my wife several years ago, and we didn’t even date or anything the first year. We just became friends during that time. After being friends for a year, we started dating and that lasted another year, so it took me three years to get married. I’ve been in Ghana almost four years. The difference between people from the USA and people from Ghana is that we lack basic humanity. That is what has been ripped away from us through years of unaddressed trauma. The USA is a very violent and hostile place, and we are generally angry and violent people because we needed these traits to survive. Women from Ghana have not been abused to the level of women from the USA, so they are not as angry and confrontational. Ghana is very patriarchal and women are taught that they need a man, and are raised to serve men. In the USA, we as African men have not protected African women for our oppressors, and they have been taught that they don’t need a man. I don’t blame the women, we gotta do better as men.
JR Valrey: What kind of lifestyle do you have there? What kind of neighborhood do you live in?
Kwame Nitoto: I am living a dream in Ghana. Life is truly loving me. I live a very stress free life and I don’t want for anything. My social security retirement money is more than enough for me to live very comfortably, in Ghana. I live in a beautiful house that costs me $105.00 USD per month. I own the only soul food restaurant in Ghana, and I am the administrator of the Asebu Pan African Village free land project. I live in Elmina which is a suburb of Cape Coast Ghana. It’s very quiet, and very peaceful every day. The weather is always beautiful. The food is always delicious. All the radio stations are Black, and the music is always poppin. And of course, the most beautiful women on the planet are everywhere you turn your head. I am extremely happy. I miss my biological children very much, but I know that what I am doing here makes the world better for them, especially because I am setting them up real nice. The economic opportunities in Ghana are incredible.
JR Valrey: How do you make a living for your family? Was it hard for you to create a business or find work?
Kwame Nitoto: I came here with a monthly social security check that is more than enough income. But I don’t feel totally secure because the USA could decide any day to shut down social security, so I am working hard to create enough income in Ghana to sustain myself and my new family. I opened the soul food restaurant last year, and I also practice real estate in Ghana. My goal is to earn more money in Ghana than I get from the USA. It is very easy to start a business in Ghana. African Americans have a huge advantage, because we have been exposed to far more than local Africans, and we can see opportunities that they cannot recognize. There are no jobs in Ghana, just business opportunities. Anything that you are doing in the USA, you can do in Ghana and be the best at it.
JR Valrey: What have you learned in Ghana since you have been there?
Kwame Nitoto: The first thing that I learned was that I needed to heal from the trauma of the USA. I have learned so much real African culture and what humanity really looks like. Im learning to speak a local language (Fante). I have learned what it truly means to be an African man, and gained a deeper responsibility towards the Motherland. I have learned African history, and I am a Hebrew. Africans survive in the USA, everyday is a struggle to make it through the day. In Ghana, we truly live. I’ve learned how to live.
JR Valrey: Now that you live in Ghana, how hard is it to travel to the rest of Africa?
Kwame Nitoto: It is not hard to travel in Africa. The pandemic has created problems right now, because they do not want Africans to escape and return home. But travelling the continent is easy. I plan to see it all before I leave this body.
JR Valrey: What is the best thing about moving from the U.S.?
Kwame Nitoto: The best thing for me has been the growth that I have experienced. also the peace of mind and the joy. Nobody has tried to kill me in almost four years. I have not feared for my safety or had to deal with racism in any form. I rarely see white people. Can you imagine? But knowing that, I am actually doing something that demonstrates my dissatisfaction with the USA, and it feels good. Leaving is my way of showing that I am not in support of the things that the USA government is doing, to people all over the planet.
Much Love to you young man. I hope to see you here in the Motherland soon. Shalom.