The Real Life Challenges of Moving to Africa

Whenever we talk about moving to Africa, there are always naysayers. You know, the usual “Africans don’t want you in their country”, “you’re crazy for wanting to move somewhere where Africans don’t even want to be” and so on. We shine these comments on because they’re usually coming from friends and family members who may mean well, but who have never been to the continent, have no plans of ever visiting and who’ve been severely brainwashed into believing that America is the greatest country in the world, even for black people.

It’s understandable that we don’t want to entertain those thoughts. We have a different vision of Africa and a different outlook on life in America. Many of us have already visited various countries on the continent and have caught the spirit of the land in ways that just can’t be explained to others. Even if you’ve never stepped foot on African soil, though, you are open to the idea that something great awaits you there and so you’re not willing to accept the discouragement of others too easily. While all of this is completely understandable, we have to be honest in exploring such a move and, most importantly, we have to accept that life in Africa won’t just be a major adjustment, but that it will also be fraught with real-life challenges that we’d do well to be prepared for in advance.

So today I thought it would be a good idea to start a realistic discussion on some of the challenges inherent with moving to Africa and search for creative solutions together. We’ve already addressed many concerns in our Why Black to Africa section, but there’s still so much more to cover. I’ll start by sharing a checklist we’ve brainstormed internally and ask that you share your own concerns and solutions either in the comments section below or on our private Facebook Group which you can join here.

Ready? Here We Go!

  • Security! As expats/repats and long-term visitors, we shouldn’t rely solely on another country’s police force or military to protect us. We should consider having our own security forces wherever we are.
  • Are there any terrorist threats against the country where you’re considering settling?
  • Political/police corruption. Are we expected to pay bribes? What are the ramifications of doing so?
  • We will be seen as outsiders and, as such, may never be totally accepted as brother/sisters. Are you prepared to be called Obruni or other derogatory terms that, despite your black skin, classify you as a white foreigner, an outsider, a westerner, etc?
  • Is the food and water safe in the area you are planning on moving to (or visiting for an extended stay)?
  • Is health insurance available in the country you are considering and are there doctors and facilities where you can receive quality/trusted care if needed?
  • What will your main method of transportation be? What are the driving requirements? Will you buy a car? Can you lease one? Is public transportation safe and reliable? Are there car services (like Uber and Lyft) available? Are they cost-effective for your needs?
  • How does the country’s primary and secondary schools compare to what we are used to at home?
  • Job, career and business options: What do we need to be able to work there (Visa requirements, etc.)? Which careers are in the greatest demand? What are the steps to starting your own business in the country you’re moving to? Will expats/repats be taking jobs away from Africans or creating jobs for ourselves AND native Africans? Will payments for services rendered be paid in our home currency or African currency?
  • Laws and rights: Study the country’s constitution (or whatever it may be called). Also, we need our own network of attorneys who work with expats and are familiar with the laws of both our native country and the African country we’re moving to.
  • How does the country we’re considering get along with its neighbors?
  • Can we buy land if we’re not a citizen of that country? If so, how?
  • How does this country view/treat women? (Married and single?)
  • How open are Africans to the idea of sharing “our” homeland? In other words, though they’ll likely view you as an outsider, are they willing to accept that as diasporans we also have a certain claim to the continent as “home”?
  • In places where energy is scarce, (think blackouts in Ghana), what solar energy options exist and what is the cost of a generator?
  • Do you speak the language or will there be communication barriers?
  • What diseases are common to the area and how are they best avoided?
  • Now, let’s discuss some possible solutions

    A Unified Approach

    First, if nothing else, the checklist above should highlight the advantages of targeting a single country, at least in the beginning. It’s no secret that I’m partial to Ghana as my research indicates it is among the most visitor-friendly, secure and developed countries on the continent. This is not to say that other countries aren’t welcoming or developed or that Ghana is not still a developing country…clearly, they’ve still got a ways to go. But in terms of being welcoming, secure and developed enough, I feel like they’ve hit the trifecta most of us are looking for. But targeting a single country for now makes it easier to address a host of concerns as a group.

    I’m also inspired in some ways by white so-called “settlers” who’ve made Africa (and other foreign places) their home. Yes, they’re colonization has come with destruction, bloodshed and pillaging. And they’ve also moved as a group tackling many of the same challenges together. I am in NO WAY advocating that we take an arrogant, thieving, entitled approach to resettling in Africa. Just that if they can do it… being completely foreign in culture and DNA… we certainly should be able to create a comfortable home for ourselves on the continent if we approach it as a group effort. (Sidenote: Chinese people are also flooding into the continent as we speak. How are they addressing these challenges? If you haven’t already done so, please read China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa by Howard W. French for more insight.)

    Photo by Nathaniel Tetteh on Unsplash


    One example of how a unified migration would be of benefit deals with security. It would be difficult to create a security force if expats/repats are spread out over several different countries. Scratch that. It would be impossible. Ditto for creating a network of attorneys well-versed in a country’s laws, as well as the laws of our home countries. Seeing that many of us are already coming from different countries, it makes the task of forming a network that much more difficult (again, impossible) if we’re also spread out across the continent.

    Still on the subject of security for a moment, I personally feel like black Americans already need our own security force right here in the USA! Don’t know how some of you in other countries feel about the police and military where you live, but ours has been known to work against black people in the United States. I won’t go too deeply into that discussion since that’s not what this post is about, but having learned our lesson here, I really feel like it behooves us to create our own trained security to specifically guard and protect us in a place like Ghana. Remember when Ross Perot’s employees were captured and held hostage in Iran? How dope was it that he didn’t have to wait for the American government to negotiate and try to devise a way to bring them home safely? Nope, the old billionaire sent his own special forces into the country and saved his people himself. That’s what I’m talking about!

    We could do something similar if we pooled our dollars and other resources with the intention of doing so. Ross is a billionaire and, collectively, so are all of us. With 37 million black people in the U.S., alone, if each of us donated just $30 per year, we’d have over 1 billion dollars to work with. Of course, children, people in jail, mentally disabled persons, the poorest of the poor and others who just choose NOT to participate in what I call “black dues” would require that $30 to be a bit higher for us all. Maybe $100/year or $200… who knows? My point is that we have money to invest in security, infrastructure and a whole lot else if we chose to organize and do so. The money is there and we have the power to secure ourselves and build wherever and whenever we choose to do so.

    Let’s Talk About The Rest

    I don’t think a single one of us has all of the solutions to these challenges. The idea here, though, is to start discussing amongst ourselves how we can address these. And if you’re already living in Africa, we REALLY NEED to hear from you! How have you dealt with these issues and which ones are missing from our list that everyone considering a move should be thinking about?

    Let us know your thoughts, challenges, ideas and concerns below or meet us over on Facebook so that we can discuss these items in detail.

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