By Victor Ochieng
There are a growing number of young professionals choosing to move to Africa after acquiring skills in the U.K. One of these professionals is DJ Kobby, who moved to Ghana after attaining two degrees in London.
Interestingly, the DJ is making good use of the skills he acquired in the U.K. When he isn’t working as a DJ, he’s a lecturer at the Accra-based Ashesi University where he teaches cultural studies.
Kobby is an example of many other young professionals who’ve chosen to do the same. Seeing this trend, Nancy Kacungira took time out to meet some of these professionals to ask them what’s motivating them to move back home.
As for Kobby, he moved from London because, despite the fact that he had attained two degrees, it was challenge finding a descent job in London 10 years ago. It’s that experience that triggered him to start thinking outside the box in order to find alternative ways of earning a living and making use of his skills.
“I felt that London was kind of grim at the time, it wasn’t exactly a land of opportunity.” he said.
While at this crossroad – DJ Kobby thought of connecting with his family that was living in Ghana and about starting his own family in the U.K. His thoughts about starting a family raised more questions regarding his and his children’s identity.
“The main thing that pushed me away was just not feeling like I could really have children there, because their identity could be questioned.” he said. “The idea that someone could come up to them and say: ‘Are you British?’ That worried me.”
After much thought, DJ Kobby, whose real name is Kobina Graham, made his mind to move to Ghana, where his career prospects became brighter.
Although he misses friends, he says that he finds it warmer in Ghana, in terms of friends.
“I remember sometimes being on a bus and just not feeling any sense of community or welcome; I don’t miss that at all,” Graham says. “I love the fact that here, I’m not made to feel like a stranger.”
Graham’s case is similar to that of many young African immigrants. Many of them move back home, more so from Western Europe and North America, in what’s been referred to as “Reverse migration.”
Professor Mariama Awumbila, a migration scholar at the University of Accra has also confirmed the same. She says, “We’re beginning to see a trend of the younger Ghanaians coming back – mostly highly skilled professionals in their thirties and early forties.”
It was difficult for Ghana in the 1990s when between 10-20% of Ghana’s population settled abroad. The trend was so bad that it resulted in more Ghanaian doctors working abroad than those who worked in their homeland.
Now, Ghana has achieved a lot in reversing migration to Europe and America.
Jerry Parkes, another returnee, who was born, raised, and worked in London, says that although things were good in his career, he felt a burning urge to come back during his prime years to contribute to building his motherland.
“I never stop thinking about how much more impact could be had in Africa if more diasporans decide to move back and do what they’ve been trained to do, what they’re experienced at doing, within the continent,” he said.
There are numerous challenges that these young professionals face when they travel back home; from dilapidated roads to a poor healthcare system.
Still, these professionals find that they give more value by coming back home. It’s also a fact that a number of them also perform better financially back home than abroad.