I had the pleasure of meeting a few members from a growing community of repatriates in Ghana. These Black Americans own businesses, teach at local institutions, and connect daily with the local people. We discussed their decisions to move to Africa and settle here permanently as well as the triumphs and challenges that come with being here.
The most interesting discussion we had centered around the ideas of “whiteness” and “blackness” and our reactions to being called “obruni.” An obruni (I hope I spelled this word correctly) is “white man,” “foreigner” or “one who does not know the language.” We all detest the word. As individuals who feel a deep, spiritual, connection with our ancestral homeland, why are we considered “foreigners”? How can that be so when we each have a consciousness about ourselves that not only recognizes but celebrates out black identity?
This led a discussion about to the politics of colonization and enslavement. It is painfully obvious that Ghana has adopted much of what Western culture has to offer. We’ve consumed countless English breakfasts, have met many individuals with Western/Christian names, and see the desire to be, in my opinion, like the West in their media, educational structures, and in some daily interactions. Black Americans also have identity crises. Feel free to stop me to discuss this. I say all of this to say, who is the real “obruni”? That term carries very little weight with me. I laugh now. They are not talking to me.
I am excited to meet more and more Black Americans who are living in Africa. It is my hope that many more Black Americans at least visit and that African countries begin to take us seriously and be more…understanding….
Obruni, how are you?