You are free to move about the world
Yes, that subtitle is a cheesy take on one previously used by Southwest Airlines, but it’s absolutely true. We are free to explore the world, yet there are still places we avoid due to fear and disinformation. Ugh!!!
While reading The Delectable Negro by Vincent Woodard, I realized a parallel between lies told to keep the ancestors from seeking freedom during slavery and the lies told to keep CHOSSA (Children of Stolen and Sold Africans) from seeking freedom in the present day. The main idea being that as soon as we explore life beyond where we were born, we will perish.
White Devils Deceived Many
In the book, passing reference was made to the fact that enslaved people were told that escaping to freedom in the North would be to their detriment. They were told awful stories of others escaping who ended up starving to death since there was no food in the North. Of course, this was not true, but people who’d lived their entire lives having never experienced a full belly believed that, if they fled their current captors for a land of freedom, they’d die a long, painful death from outright starvation. Not knowing any better, many stayed in place figuring that it was better to exist on crumbs and endure every imaginable brutality than to end up in a land where they had no place to live and no food to eat.
The Great CHOSSA Brainwashing Continues
As I read this, I was immediately reminded of those who work overtime trying to convince CHOSSA not to even visit Africa, much less think of relocating to an African country. For years, those of us born in the West have been shown images of starving children and their mothers. We’ve been told Africa is a continent filled with disease and violence. We’ve even been told that we’re blessed to have been enslaved in the West as those who were left in Africa have endured pure hell on their own!
The Internet has slowly helped change this narrative, however. Through social media and independent reporting, we’ve been able to see that Africa is not the wasteland we’ve been warned about, nor are countries like the U.S. necessarily the best place for us. In comparing life on the Continent versus life where we were born, many have opted to not just visit and explore Africa, but have actually packed their entire lives up and have moved to the Mother Continent with no regrets.
New worries about CHOSSA all upping and leaving have brought about a new series of lies. Today, we’re told stories of CHOSSA being hated by Africans. We’re told that we’re not welcome on the Continent and that we’re a lot safer and better off right where we are. Sound familiar?
Oh, the Confusion…
The first time my husband and I decided to visit Africa, I recall the strange looks and weird questions we were asked. Despite multiple trips to the Continent since then and bringing home nothing but rave reviews, I still occasionally find myself being hit with questions like, ‘Do they have Internet in Africa? Aren’t you afraid of wild animals?’ Or even, ‘What is there to do there?’ asked as if Africa is nothing more than a giant desert or jungle where people go to be bored to death.
Then there are those who point to people who had bad experiences on the Continent. These become the poster children for warning others to stay away. Anyone with a lick of sense knows bad experiences can occur anywhere. While America is plagued with mass shootings, police brutality and scores of people are sleeping in the streets in just about every major city, for some reason a person getting their phone stolen or called a name in Africa rates worse than all of these combined and is used as a warning to tell Black people to stay away.
No one asks Black Canadians planning a trip to Los Angeles if they’re afraid of being killed by police during their stay. No one asks a Black person visiting Milan if they’re afraid of being beaten to death while bystanders watch, but do nothing. No one asks Black people if they’re afraid of being kidnapped on a trip to London and sold into modern day slavery. But mention visiting any African country that’s not Egypt or South Africa and all of a sudden, safety concerns skyrocket.
Sometimes It’s the Person, Not the Place
Africa is also no different than any other place in that wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you struggle with managing money, can’t seem to find your way in life or have trouble maintaining healthy relationships in the country where you were born, things aren’t likely to change by uprooting and moving to Africa (or anywhere else on the planet).
They Do it For the Likes
Some just like to drag Africa for sport. With minds preconditioned to reject the Continent, there are some who stay on anti-Africa rants day and night. Many have even discovered ways to profit from this by making videos and browsing social media for examples of how bad Africa is.
Case in point, I guess it was a year or two ago when a couple impulsively sold their home in the U.S. and moved their family, including young children, to Ghana. If memory serves correctly, both were a bit on the overweight side and videos of them complaining about not finding unhealthy American snacks in Ghana quickly went viral. I only watched part of one video (the snack complaints) as it seemed pretty likely to me that these people were a little off. Not because they were complaining about a lack of junk food, but their appearance and delivery gave me sloppy and slow-witted vibes. I found it hard to believe their claims of living in a mansion in the U.S. located in an exclusive community. Something just wasn’t clicking with me and so I clicked away from their channel after just a few minutes.
It was maybe a week later when I got wind that more of their videos had taken off as they were causing quite a stir with more complaints about Ghana. Apparently, they hadn’t done any real preparation, exploration or investigation about the country before selling everything they owned and dragging their children across the globe. Again, it all felt off.
Another week or so later and old videos of them on a daytime courtroom show in the U.S. surfaced. I didn’t watch, but from the comments I read they did a lot of clowning for the camera which seemed to be in line with what I’d witnessed of their YouTube personalities. Although some were convinced that Ghana was a terrible place to live due to their antics, others believed they were actually actors and questions about the authenticity of their complaints soon drowned their popularity.
Whether the whole channel was a great big stunt or whether they were actually that simple-minded to relocate in the way they did, I haven’t the energy to try to find out. What I do know is that those committed to dissuading CHOSSA from visiting or moving to Africa went into a frenzy sharing their videos with their own joyous shouts of, ‘See, I told you so!’
Good Still Outweighs Bad
But all was not lost as there were then are now so many more Black people from the U.S., England, Ireland, Australia, Jamaica and other parts of the world who have absolutely fallen in love with Africa. YouTube and social media sites are full of their inspiring stories as they help showcase Africa in a positive light. Whether they’ve embraced Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia or some other country, members of the Diaspora are hip to the tricks and are no longer believing the warnings to steer clear of Africa or else.
On February 2, 2023, this essay by Laura Quainoo, appeared on Medium.com. A service I subscribe to.