By JR Valrey, the People’s Minister of Information
My two trips to Ghana, in 2021, have undoubtedly changed my perspective for the better, on practical Pan Africanism, and what it looks like on an everyday level, from within an African country. While in Ghana, I met a number of interesting people, one specific person that I was glad that I met was Ivy Prosper from the “Beyond the Return” campaign, who is a social media manager for the campaign and a talk show host that utilizes her platform to expose the beauty of the Ghanaian landscape, the industriousness of the Ghanaian people, as well as to profile repatriates from around the diaspora who have chosen to invest or live in Ghana. She is very well connected in the country, and we had the opportunity to hang out quite a bit, while we were there.
My social media network was extremely attentive and interested when I made social media posts inside of Ghana, so I wanted to offer to those interested the opportunity to follow a trusted media voice that could give them tours, through the media, of some of the jewels that Ghana has to offer. Black New World meet Ivy Prosper and the “Beyond the Return” campaign.
JR Valrey: Can you talk about your repatriation journey? Why did you repatriate to Ghana?
Ivy Prosper: First I think it’s important to know that I was actually born in Ghana. We left for Canada when I was not even 2 years old. So my return to Ghana isn’t something that I consider a journey in the same way a person from the historical diaspora that may not have ties to Ghana may have had.
I came in 2011 but at the time it was meant to be a getaway trip and I ended up finding work. So I stayed through 2013. After returning to Canada I felt the tug to go back to Ghana. Something in my spirit kept wanting to return. I was also encouraged by the man I was in a relationship with at the time to go back. So I returned in 2016 and have been living here since.
JR Valrey: How long was your actual process of repatriation? What steps did you take?
Ivy Prosper: My process of moving to Ghana is not like someone who has no ties. Citizenship and work permits were not something I had to apply for because I was born here.
In 2016, I quit my job, shipped things, then came to Ghana and looked for work. I had some leads before coming that didn’t pan out so I was starting from scratch, which I would never advise anyone to do. Ghana is much harder to crack than people realize. If I didn’t have friends and family here I may have gone back to Canada during that period of job searching.
JR Valrey: How did you begin working with the Beyond the Return Movement? What exactly is your job?
Ivy Prosper: Prior to working for Ghana Tourism Authority on the Year of Return campaign, I was already sharing my experiences about Ghana on social media. I had also worked in documentary film production. The manager for Year of Return suggested I interview with the CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority, when they were looking for someone to handle the social media for Year of Return. I was hired. I joined the team as the Social Media Manager and was instrumental in promoting Ghana to the world in 2019. My role involves attending events, and creating content for their website and social platforms.
The Year of Return campaign in 2019 was followed up with Beyond the Return in 2020 as a 10-year initiative with the theme, “A Decade of African Renaissance”. I’ve continued on as the Social Media Manager now working on the Beyond the Return campaign.
JR Valrey: Why does the Ghanaian government put resources into promoting repatriation for the African diaspora around the world? How does it gain?
Ivy Prosper: Ghana has always had a history of Pan Africanism starting with its first President Kwame Nkrumah. The likes of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Maya Angelou all made the journey to Ghana. The country isn’t a stranger to inviting the African diaspora to Ghana.
In 2007, they had The Joseph Project, which was also a call for the diaspora to return to Africa.
What set this time apart in 2019 as being so monumental was that it was tied to the 400 year anniversary of the first documented ship of enslaved Africans to arrive in Virginia. That coupled with the power of social media and digital marketing made it such a big force.
The President of Ghana in 2018, made the announcement for plans to make 2019 the Year of Return to invite the African diaspora to Ghana. It was led by the Office of the President, Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture, Ghana Tourism Authority, Office of Diaspora Affairs, in partnership with the Panafest Foundation, and the Adinkra Group.
The success of the Year of Return, led to the follow up of Beyond the Return.
JR Valrey: What are some of your favorite tourist attractions in Ghana?
Ivy Prosper: There’s not really specific tourist attractions I would say are favorites but rather I enjoy certain places and environments. For example the beaches in the Volta Region and Western Region I love, for their cleanliness and serene environment. I also like going to Akosombo and taking a ride in the boats on the Volta River. Ada is also a lovely place to visit for the waterfront views and boat rides in the water.
JR Valrey: What kinds of industry does Ghana specialize in? What industries are newly developing in the nation?
Ivy Prosper: Cocoa and gold are what Ghana is most known for. In fact Ghana, together with Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest supplier of cocoa, used in chocolate around the world. Ghana is also a big supplier of shea butter in the beauty industry, and has a big mining industry. Real estate is a big business and seeing growth every day. Currently the tech, telecommunications, oil and gas industries are all big players as they continue to grow.
JR Valrey: What kinds of businesses are repatriates involved in, in Ghana?
Ivy Prosper: Everyone chooses what’s best for them. I can’t say there’s any specific industries they are involved in, because I’ve met many doing all different types of things. One common thread is that most are entrepreneurs or work for multi-national companies (NGO, embassies, etc)
JR Valrey: Can you talk a little about the “Beyond the Return” series, where does it air? What kinds of topics are covered?
Ivy Prosper: Are you talking about the new series we are filming called Diaspora Corner?
If so, it’s a new series where we interview people from the diaspora who have moved to Ghana or made investments into the country. A lot of people who are considering moving to Ghana or another African country are always keen to hear people’s stories. They want to know how they can do it and seeing someone who has, is quite inspiring. We speak to people from different backgrounds and industries about their experiences.
We thought it was important to use our platform to share the journeys of people who have made the move. It will air on the Ghana Tourism Authority YouTube channel as well as the Beyond the Return social media platforms.
JR Valrey: Are there organizations, on the ground in Ghana, for people who may need help, who have repatriated?
Ivy Prosper: The Diaspora Affairs Office of the President, is always open to receiving people and being a source of information for diasporans.
Also Ahaspora has been an organization that serves as a source for networking and leads for the diaspora community in Ghana.
The Diaspora Investment Desk, created by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre is also a good source of information.
JR Valrey: How can people keep up with you and the “Beyond the Return” show?
Ivy Prosper: People can follow Beyond the Return on its social media platforms on Instagram and Facebook @beyondthereturn. They can also visit the website at www.beyondthereturngh.com
For myself personally people can follow me on my social platforms @ivyprosper on all platforms.