Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Robyn Howzell-Obuobi
'I Left America To Buy Land & Build My Dream Home In Ghana'
Ghana always felt like home to Robyn Howzell-Obuobi.
Her love for Ghana began in 2015 when she volunteered with children. The children left such an impact on her heart that she decided to keep in contact with the village community through a pen pal campaign to help stop misinformation about Ghana.
During her second visit, she founded We Are One People Global People Foundation in the neighboring village where she volunteered.
“The busy street markets in the local villages, the malls, a ride on the TroTro, or [visiting] the art market, someone around every corner resembled a family member or a friend,” she told Travel Noire. “I was at ease walking roadside at night, eating local foods at the pub, having my hair braided, and chatting with people I didn’t know.”
Howzell-Obuobi said she lived and traveled to many countries and studied Spanish as a second language, but visiting Ghana changed her and now she’s building her dream home.
In an interview with us, she discussed the building process.
Travel Noire: Can you tell us more about your inspiration to build a home in Ghana?
Howzell-Obuobi: I was inspired by the stories my grandmother told me as a child about Africa. My beloved grandmother had a deep desire to visit. I was also inspired by “Mr Africa,” a local grandfather figure who makes crafts and medicine.
He is a wise man, who was born in Liberia but living in Ghana for over thirty years. He knew how much I loved Ghana and how bad I wanted to move permanently.
One summer, Mr. Africa asked me why I haven’t purchased land, what I was waiting for, and when was I planning to build my home? He said it was about time for me to return home and that my ancestors were calling me.
A week later, after praying and giving it some thought, I spoke to the assemblyman in charge of land purchase. He walked me through the Bonsoku Village, where I chose a roadside location to build my home. I paid the land fees for an 80 x 100 plot.
Travel Noire: Can you explain more about the process. When did you start and how long did it take to get the ball rolling?
Howzell-Obuobi: The process was fairly quick and easy because of my affiliation with the people living in the village. I suggest anyone interested in building in Ghana to do a land ownership search. Please ask a lot of questions before, during, and after purchasing land. These steps are important to avoid fraud if you’re unfamiliar with the area.
Some people make money from foreigners and pretend to know all about purchasing land, and in many cases, the land belongs to someone else. If that is the case, in five years from the date of purchase, you’ll lose your plot.
You do not want to be a victim of land fraud.
I purchased my plot in July 2019 and my deed was signed on Dec. 15, 2019, during the time African Americans and others from the Diaspora were returning home.
Signing the deed was surreal. I was so excited. I cried for an entire week. Three days after signing my deed, we had the libation ceremony on my land.
The foundation of the house started one week later on Jan. 3, 2020. I paid for the materials through an app called Sendwave. The foundation and structure of my house were built within six months.
Travel Noire: Can you tell us more details about your home?
Howzell-Obuobi: My housing plans actually came from a neighbor in my village. My house is a three-bedroom single-family unit. I decided to make a few small changes, including wider windows for fresh air. The kitchen will have large ceiling fans and two windows, the living room is average with a ceiling fan and an air conditioning unit.
I decided to go with “big girl steps” around the front and back entrance. I enjoyed sitting on the steps growing up in Philadelphia, star gazing, reading, or playing a game of jax. The outside will be paved to park cars and the other side is reserved for planting fruits and vegetables.
Bonsoku is a farming community, so I’ll have plenty of help to plant yams, coconut, plantains, cassava, and moringa.
Travel Noire: Lastly, what is your advice for people planning to move abroad or building a home outside of the US?
Howzell-Obuobi: My advice would be to visit and volunteer in the country that peaks your interest. Don’t just go on holidays to the tourist areas, allow yourself time to see different neighborhoods.
Go off the beaten path, spend time outdoors, chat with and meet new people.
For expats, you’re allowed to own land in Ghana for 99 years. The land you purchase can be passed down to the next generation every 99 years. Also, don’t be fooled by the friendly locals eager to take your money.
It’s not easy building in Ghana, especially if you’re not present. I suggest being in the country when building or finding someone who lives here to keep an eye on things until you decide to make Ghana your home.
For questions, connect with Robyn on her organization’s Facebook Page.