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Opinions of Friday, 9 February 2007

Columnist: Albion, Kojo

Giving Back.

Proverb: “To travel is to go home a stranger.”

As the adage goes, “there is no place like home,” and so one day, some of those who have lived in the Diaspora all these years, may decide to go back to ‘where it all began.’ Is this possible and how does one prepare to go back?

To decide to go back is a very complicated issue but one can try to minimize the complication by preparing many years in advance. “Kwantunyi” (the traveller) has to make up his/her mind that one day a return home (the land of the ancestors) is in the plan. One also has to have a passion of going back to serve selflessly. “When we benefit more than the people weserve, we are not serving,” the saying goes.

With that in mind, there are so many things one has to consider. For brevity sake, I will limit this article to a few points from my findings and then leave the rest to those who care to add to this piece. “Tsir kor mmpam,”(“Two heads are better than one.”)

As a concerned person who has been in the Diaspora for many years, I try to go to Ghana almost every two years for three months at a time. I stay actively involved in the affairs of the nation and so I share my findings with compassion and great interest. I have many friends and relatives who have returned (to stay) and these are some of what I gathered from them.

The first thing to do is to live in the Diaspora as best as you can. Do not be confused or double-minded but plan in such a way that going back one day will not be too complicated. If you should marry and have children, make your plans known and let the family buy into your passion that you will go back one day and they may be affected in one way or the other.

Four things that all those whom I talked to told me were- (a) a source of income, (b) a house, (c) a reliable car, (d) knowledge about home and how to deal with the system, family (ebusuafo) and friends. Once again, “to travel is to go home a stranger,” but home is where we belong and things will not be like in the Diaspora.

It will be wonderful if one can have retirement income and investments in the Diaspora. These will give the returnee the freedom to do many things and not to be afraid of getting involved in the issues of the land. One has to return to give back in whatever legitimate way that he/she may choose selflessly.

There are so many things to do when one goes back but money can be a challenge if one wants to generate income at home. Is it possible to make about $1500 a month working for many institutions in Ghana? To be self-employed, you may need money to survive for about a year before your business takes off if you go that route.

The cost of living and dealing with friends, ebusuafo (family) and others may kill the dream of staying at home rather quickly; therefore one has to plan very well. It can be done because many Diasporans are back home contributing to the development of the nation and soon it will be our turn.

It will be very difficult to go back and stay with the clan in the same house. A house of your own or an inherited one is a must. This is why one has to build one during the time of productivity in the Diaspora or one has to have enough money saved for a house. This is a personal choice but it is highly recommended that one has to have a house of his/her own. Renting, they say, is not a good option because of many issues that one may encounter.

Transportation is a challenge at home, especially if one wants to be mobile. Unless one is willing to spend lots of money and time going about in public transportation, then one has to have a fuel efficient, reliable vehicle at home. You may want to learn to drive at home after studying the psychology and mechanics of “home driving.” It is different.

An uncontrollable variable in the challenge of returning home is dealing with some ebusuafo, friends and others who think that in returning after all those years of making “hard currency,” you should be loaded, therefore it is time to take care of them- BIG TIME! It is very difficult to hear all those sobbing stories and then to say, “I am sorry I do not have money to pay for your son’s school fees and to give you money to go and feed the kids.”

Many, many of our people are living in a “survival mode” and whatever some can do to separate you from your money, they will try. Therefore be resolute and wise or else you will start packing rather quickly.

The ancestors are calling us. They paved the way for us and they expect us to take things to the next level. The restlessness that we may feel in the Diaspora may be coming from the silent calls of the ancestors. The umbilical cord that was buried behind the Ebusuafie is calling. Will you respond to the call? If so, start planning for the return but it will be wise to know that it will not be easy but it can be done.

“To travel is to go home a stranger.” “Life has a way of coming to a full circle” Home is where we belong. The decision-making time is now or never. Take your time but plan to give back to the Motherland regardless. “To whom much is given….”

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.