Learn the story of the New York lawyer who moved to Ghana

(CNN) — In 2012, Nana Amoako Anin was working as a prosecutor in New York. An American of Ghanaian descent, she had spent much of her adult life studying law and entering the legal profession.

But one day, despite the prospects for career advancement in one of the world’s most prosperous cities, he decided the time had come for a drastic change.

It was then that he moved to Ghana.

It may seem like a surprising decision, but Anin is not alone. The allure of the West African country has proved irresistible to others in recent years who have chosen to heed the call of the country’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo.

Two years ago, Addo designated 2019 as “the year of return”, a nice slogan to promote your country as a travel destination for your dispersed diaspora in Europe and the United States.

The year of return was timed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of African slaves in the United States, recognizing Ghana’s importance as a transportation hub for many of those captured and transported across the Atlantic.

The campaign was a success, as the country received an increase in visitors, including celebrities such as Naomi Campbell and Idris Elba. That year saw an increase in tourism receipts.

Beyond the 12-month campaign, some, as the singer Stevie Wonder, have started making plans for a permanent move. Others came back to stay.

For Anin, the move was made in search of a better work-life balance.

“I’ve lived in the United States for most of my life, trained as a lawyer, and had every expectation of knowing the courts and the business environment, in the United States, for much of my professional career,” she says.

Life had other ideas. The stress at work and the birth of his daughter made her rethink his life and, suddenly, she considered a new life in Ghana.

“The stress changed my plans, I think for the better,” he says.

“Before I moved I had become a prosecutor in New York. The experience rocked my world, bringing with it a lot of personal imbalances.”

“I had it all”

Nana Amoako Anin’s love of yoga led her to make the decision to move. Courtesy of Elroy Salam

The key to her decision was her discovery of yoga and her subsequent training as an instructor, which she said was a gateway to more radical life changes.

“So when my husband and I moved to Ghana, I never imagined so many doors would open for healing for myself and others.”

Anin says her decision to leave New York behind, and her “glorious, coveted corner apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, came as a surprise to her acquaintances.

“I had it all before I moved to Ghana. I had checked all the life goal boxes and could have easily stayed on American soil. What I questioned was the long hours and manic stress that came with my lifestyle.” , he indicated.

“Leaving New York when you’ve ‘made it’ isn’t something most people do of their own volition, so our plans to move shocked our family and friends. I still remember hearing, ‘Do you leave a six-figure salary?’ to move your family abroad and start over in Africa? And from the family: ‘you weren’t born there, it will be hard.'”

Anin says she and her husband planned for four years before taking the plunge.

“We look our savings in the face,” he says. “We thought hard about shipping our car and what life would be like moving with our young daughter.”

“Expenses were a key issue on our minds. At the time of our move, Ghana had one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and [Accra] It was also ranked as one of the most expensive cities to live in.”

“Building our own house had always been the plan. Without that, we didn’t see the value in moving, ending up renting a house, where a rent… could cost us $4,000 a month.”

“Endless Rewards”

Dentaa Amoateng: “The move to Ghana was not a surprise to anyone.” Courtesy of Dentaa Amoateng

The construction of her new family home took two years, a tense time in which she and her daughter remained in New York while her husband went ahead to supervise the work.

“There were a lot of Skype calls and tears of frustration,” says Anin. “I wondered if the build and move was worth it. Sometimes I regretted it before I moved in, but I stuck with it. And the rewards have been endless.”

Anin and her family are not the only ones.

Ghanaian-British businesswoman and philanthropist Dentaa Amoateng decided to move to Ghana from the UK in 2019, after coming and going for years. She has now committed to creating a network in the country for returnees.

“The move to Ghana was not a surprise to anyone,” he says. “I’ve been dedicated to Ghana and people in the diaspora for years. I was always going back and forth between the UK and Ghana, and gradually found myself living most of the year in Ghana.”

“It felt good, my family and children loved it. I felt a sense of peace in Ghana knowing that my children could finally learn and speak their mother tongue, Twi. It wasn’t planned, it just fell into line.”

Despite the benefits, he says the “drastic” changes in his lifestyle since moving to West Africa have taken some getting used to.

“The adaptation was not easy,” he says. “Being a developing country, everything, in terms of infrastructure, was also developing.”

But he adds: “Ghana has a lot to offer me and those in the diaspora. As one of the most stable countries in West Africa, Ghana’s economy has grown on gold, cocoa and oil.”

A “major risk”

Samuel Brooksworth established his new company, Remoteli, in Ghana. Credits: Remoteli Ltd

These returns go against the traditional narrative of African migration. Research by the CoronaNet Research Project, a database on government responses to the coronavirus, highlighted that even 970,714 peopleor 3.2% of the Ghanaian population, emigrated in 2019. The most popular destinations were Europe and America.

Migration out of Ghana has occurred both legally and illegally, with many overstaying visas once they have entered another country or crossing borders clandestinely. Despite this, there is an influx into Ghana of Ghanaians and blacks from the diaspora.

What is offered to those who return is a strong democracy and a healthy economy. There is also a dynamic culture, especially around food, and a coastline that invites both tourists and those who decide to settle.

Although the pandemic, which prompted Ghana to temporarily close its borders, has had a huge impact on global travel, for some it has been the impetus to finally take the plunge.

Samuel Brooksworth, a former contestant on the UK version of the reality show “The Apprentice”, took advantage of the turbulence of 2020 to move from the UK to Ghana and create the remote skills company Remoteli.

“During the pandemic, we saw graduate unemployment rise and we saw an opportunity to start working abroad, here in Ghana,” says Brooksworth.

He says his company now hires skilled Ghanaian graduates as telecommuters for businesses and individuals around the world, providing customer service, virtual assistance, social media management, and web and app development.

“The change was more than a business opportunity,” says Brooksworth. “I felt compelled to make an impact on the continent, forcing me to take a huge risk to move to Ghana.”

“After several visits to Ghana I knew that one of the areas I wanted to work on was around employment. Moving to pursue our dream was not easy. Sometimes there were doubts, especially because you also had to take into account my wife and my children in the process.

“Now we’ve made it work, and the risk has paid off with the success of Remoteli. I’m enjoying it and I love the environment. I want to be here as I expand across the continent.”

an amazing feeling

“I never experience the Sunday night blues,” says Anin. Courtesy of Elroy Salam

This changing narrative — with many in the diaspora and beyond acknowledging the benefits of living in Africa — is something I identify with.

After visiting Ghana during the year of return, I always knew I would come back. I moved in 2020 and found the work-life balance I’ve always wanted. The pandemic offered a great opportunity to be closer to family and my roots after the loss of my grandfather.

As borders around the world reopen, more people may be welcomed “at home.”

For former New Yorker Anin, the move has not been without a certain longing for her former life.

“I don’t regret moving. I’ve seen and lived some of my happiest times here,” he says. “But what I miss is the pulse of New York. I miss the 24-hour corner stores and the concerts in Central Park. I’ve been traveling again since I moved, and I plan to continue that pilgrimage on a regular basis.”

But, he says, the pros far outweigh the cons, especially when looking to the future.

“Having embraced the life of an entrepreneur, there have been a lot of freedoms that I wouldn’t change. For example, making my own hours, being able to work for myself and set my own hours. And having more time with my family.”

“These things seem simple, but they are huge advantages of starting a new life in Ghana. Interestingly, I never experience the sadness of a Sunday night. It’s an amazing feeling.”

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