Photo Credit: Muhammida El Muhajir
The Black Expat: Moving To Ghana Restored My Sense Of Humanity
For New York native Muhammida El Muhajir, being an expat in Ghana was never in her plans. As an experienced traveler, who has visited more than 30 countries, things changed when she visited Ghana for the first time in 2003. In fact, it was love at first-sight.
In 2014, after many other visits, El Muhajir made a decision to move and live in Ghana. Since then, the digital marketing consultant believes that she has made the right choice. Now owning a digital marketing company in the country, working with international and luxury brands, she says that Ghana gave her a true sense of humanity. A feeling that, according to her, she has never experienced in the US.
El Muhajir talked to Travel Noire about her experience as an expat in Ghana.
Travel Noire: What was your view on Africa before you decided to move to Ghana?
El Muhajir: The first country I went to was Kenya. I was 15 and traveled with a group of kids. I was one of two Black kids, and saw early that I could fit in and wasn’t an outsider. Things suddenly switched, when I realized in America I was an outsider, but in Africa, I no longer felt like that.
TN: How have you and your family adjusted to Ghana? Was it an easy process?
El Muhajir: I had traveled and studied in Ghana before moving, so I had a good sense of what to expect, although visiting is very different from living in a place permanently. I was open to learning and exploring many of the cultural differences, so things were not so much a shock for me. I also approached the people and culture with humility, which was surprising and refreshing to most Ghanaians, who were expecting the stereotypical loud/arrogant Americans who look down or constantly compare Ghana to America.
I live in a very cosmopolitan neighborhood with shops, restaurants and a mall, so my day-to-day life is very similar to how it was in NY or LA oddly enough. I know my lifestyle is a rarity for many, but I am lucky to be able to have this experience while living in Ghana.
TN: What do you like most about Ghana?
El Muhajir: What I love most about Ghana is that I am treated as a 1st class citizen, and my sense of humanity has been restored. It is very liberating to not have to deal with racial issues in daily life. You don’t realize how much mental and emotional stress come from both witnessing and experiencing racial aggression until you are removed from it.
TN: Can you tell us about your relationship with Ghanaians?
El Muhajir: Because of my work, I mostly engage with Ghanaian returnees (Ghanaians who have moved back to Ghana from the US or Europe), international clients and my Ghanaian staff and neighbors. I also have some very close friends that have become family to me, but I enjoy having diverse network.
TN: What advice can you give those looking to become an expat in Ghana, especially African-American women?
El Muhajir: I would encourage those looking to move to do as much research in advance about opportunities especially on working or studying abroad. Visit as often as you can afford, to get a true sense of the place and to meet and network with as many people as possible. Visit multiple cities and countries in Africa to see where you connect with.
Save as much money as possible before coming to have a significant nest egg since most things are cash payments, like renting an apartment (1-2 years advance payment required), home, land purchase or car. Financing and mortgages are new and rare. Find a way to have residual income coming in from the US or a remote work opportunity to have access to USD if at all possible.