American Man Moves To Ghana To Escape Racism

by : Charlie Cocksedge on : 25 Aug 2019 12:18
American Man Moves To Ghana To Escape RacismObadele Kambon

An American man has relocated himself and his family to Ghana after being the victim of what he believed to be a racially motivated attack by police officers.

In 2007, Obadele Kambon was arrested and put on trial in Chicago, where he lived at the time, after he was accused by police of having a loaded firearm under his car seat which they said he intended to use it in a drive-by shooting.


In fact, Kambon had an unloaded, licensed gun in the boot of his car, which he had used to secure a campsite. Obadele was cleared of all charges but, sitting in court during the trial, he vowed to himself: ‘Never again will I allow myself to be in a jurisdiction where corrupt white police officers and a judge will take me away from my family, wife and kids just on a whim.’

American Man Moves To Ghana To Escape RacismObadele Kambon

After the trial, Kambon – an academic teaching at schools and universities in the Chicago area – saved up around $30,000 and moved with his family to the capital of Ghana, Accra, in 2008. Obadele moved with his wife, Kala, and they now have three children – Ama, Kwaku and Akosua.

He started a doctoral studies program at the University of Ghana the following year, and now teaches African Studies. Since relocating, Obadele says he no longer feels he is a victim of racial abuse or profiling.


As Obadele told BBC News, a friend who also moved remarked to him: ‘Wow, this is what it must feel like to be a white person in America, just to be able to live without worrying that something is going to happen to you.’

Though he is happy with the move, Obadele says not everything is ‘hunky dory’ in Ghana, as different religions and languages can create divides between people.

American Man Moves To Ghana To Escape RacismChale Wote Street Art Festival/Facebook

He told BBC News:


You practise African spirituality and everyone thinks you are a Rasta, the Abraham religion that the whites introduced is dominant and there is not even a concept that Africans can have their own religion.

As for the various dialects and languages, Kambon was shocked to find children who did not speak any African language.

He added:

There was a point where the children had an Ewe mother and if you greet them in Ewe they’ll tell you, ‘Oh I don’t speak Twi’. They cannot even identify their own mother language.


Kambon himself is fluent in to West African languages, Akan and Yoruba, and can get by in Wolof too. He is also competent in Swahili, the main language in East Africa, as well as Kikongo, which is spoken in parts of central and southern Africa.

American Man Moves To Ghana To Escape RacismObadele Kambon

Although slavery was common before, 1619 is recognised as the first year African slaves were taken to America. 2019, therefore, marks the 400th anniversary of this. Ghana’s president, Nan Akufo-Addo, has declared this year to be the ‘Year of Return’, saying Ghana must ‘welcome home’ Africans whose families were forced into slavery.

Obadele is a prominent campaigner to help people who have moved away relocate to Africa to help in its development. In 2016, he and 33 other Africans petitioned Ghana’s president John Mahama to grant citizenship to them, which Mahama acceded to. At the time, Mahama reportedly told Kambon ‘This is your birth right, I am only restoring what is rightfully yours.’


Ghana’s founding leader, Kwame Nkrumah, called the country the ‘Black Mecca’, and it prides itself on its pan-Africanism. Obadele has said he will continue to campaign for people looking to relocate there – something he hopes will resonate even more while Trump is in the White House. As Obadele said: ‘What he does is actually helpful to those of us who are for repatriation’.

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Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist and sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.

Topics: News, Africa, America, Police, Racism, Trump


BBC News
  1. BBC News

    The African American who moved to Ghana 'to escape US racism'