‘A Promised Land’: Jamaicans who call Ghana home find peace and happiness
Jamaicans living in Ghana: (Clockwise from left) Kevoy Burton, Ayana Cameron and Dr Rachel Brown. (Photos: Contributed)

When Jamaicans consider migrating, they often look to North America or Europe, mostly ignoring Africa – where 90 per cent of the Caribbean island’s population can trace their roots. However, a number of Jamaicans who have gone against the grain and are now living in Ghana, are touting the wonders of the West African country and its people.

For 30-year-old actor Kevoy Burton, who first visited the country in 2019, Ghana is a place where Jamaicans can make a very decent living.

“I always think that if you are young like this, and you have the time, Ghana is that place that you can come, set up, understand the system and create something,” Burton told OBSERVER ONLINE, describing Ghana as a “much bigger Jamaica.”

Burton said he first visited Ghana to film a movie, and after falling in love with the country, he decided to permanently move there in March 2020.

Kevoy Burton (right) receiving his Ghanaian citizenship.

“I like the vibe. Ghana loves me enuh. I can tell you that for sure,” Burton said.

“I got my citizenship (four) weeks ago. So, I mean the people have accepted me. They love Jamaica, they love the accent, they love our lifestyle, they love everything about Jamaica. As a matter of fact, they all want to come to Jamaica. So, they are very welcoming to Jamaicans here,” he continued.

Burton, who is among approximately 4,000 Jamaicans living in Ghana, is now a marketer, a brand manager for a Jamaican restaurant called Jamrock, and owns a fashion brand, Kethan, which is a combination of his sons’ names - Keleb and Ethan.

Looking back on the day he left Jamaica, Burton said he cried when he had to leave his sons, ages five and seven.

Dr Rachel Brown at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park.

“We have a really nice bond. Even over the holiday I was talking to them and they were really begging me to come back in February. Me and their mother, we are not together, but I’d love for her to keep them until they are at a particular age, maybe 10 or 12, and then I’ll take them from that age into manhood,” Burton stated.

Offering advice to Jamaicans contemplating travelling to Ghana, Burton said, “Come with an open mind. It’s not just about city lights and pretty-pretty. It’s more of finding your feet and finding your own.”

“If you are an entrepreneur and you want to go somewhere, I think Ghana is the best place for you to come. Obviously, if you are coming to work a salary it’s not going to work [because] they don’t pay a lot. If you do find something that you can maybe start a small business here, you can own houses, you can own land here, it’s not very expensive,” he added.

Meanwhile, 32-year-old Dr Rachel V Brown, who is based in Accra, Ghana told OBSERVER ONLINE that she moved to the country in July of 2021.

Ayana Cameron at Jamrock restaurant in Ghana in April 2022.

“I was living in Barcelona at the time and had no idea what was next, I was finished doing what I was doing there, and I usually have everything planned out. This was the first time in my life where I had no plan and I was strangely at peace, which freaked out everyone around me. So I said ‘God let me know where you want me to go’, and the next day I started getting calls, emails, messages, invitations, offers, event invites and it was just all for Ghana, and it was a very clear sign to me. A month later I was there,” Brown said.

She is now a lecturer at the University of Media, Arts and Culture, and is working on her citizenship. Brown has also consulted for a few companies in terms of communication, customer service, and leadership speaking.

Additionally, she runs the non-profit Every Mikkle Foundation Jamaica and Ghana branches.

“I want people to know that Ghana is incredible with incredible people and food and culture, especially if you’re black; it’s somewhere you should definitely visit. Jamaicans you can call Ghana home for sure it won’t be too difficult. A lot of the things that you see on TV are not accurate representations of Africa or her people. So, go there, see it for yourself, see how advanced they are, see how they live, see what life is like and you will not only learn about their culture but your own as well,” she added.

BURTON... If you are an entrepreneur and you want to go somewhere, I think Ghana is the best place for you to come.

At the same time, 25-year-old Ayana Cameron said she moved to Ghana on August 22, 2021 out of sheer curiosity.

“I had no specific reason. No roots, ties or connections, and I never visited either. The embargos, tariffs and limitations in Jamaica frustrated me to a point where I felt I had to leave if I was to ever live a full and wholesome life. I chose Ghana because, through research, I found that there was an accessible Jamaican community here,” she said.

Cameron told OBSERVER ONLINE that she is assistant producer for a prominent production and marketing agency, and she has dabbled in acting. Cameron added that she is also the general manager for a newly opened Jamaican restaurant, Jerk Royal, as well as the part-time brand manager of a few small businesses.

“Thankfully, Ghana provides an atmosphere where you’re able to juggle multiple things. I have never worked with better or more understanding people. People that allow me to spread my wings, I’m immensely grateful to them,” Brown said.

What’s more is that Ghana is a very good option for Jamaicans looking to escape the scourge of crime and violence in their native country.

According to the 2022 Global Peace Index, Ghana is the second most peaceful country in Africa (behind Mauritius) and 40th peaceful among the global ranking of 163 countries which places Jamaica 81st on the list.

“My absolute favourite thing is the safety aspect,” Brown said. “Being in Ghana I don’t feel afraid like I did in Jamaica. In Ghana, I’m able to travel at any time during the day time or night time and I do not fear being kidnapped, robbed or killed.”

Burton shared similar sentiments.

“I think Ghana is very peaceful. There is this sense of safety whenever you are on the streets,” he said.

In recent years, Jamaica and Ghana have moved to strengthen bonds between the two nations which are historically linked by the transatlantic slave trade from the 16th to 19th centuries.

In 2019, Jamaica endorsed Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’, an initiative of the African country to encourage people of African descent to visit Africa. The two countries also signed a reciprocal agreement allowing visa-free travel between the nations for citizens of Jamaica and Ghana.

CANDICE HAUGHTON , Observer Online reporter, haughtonc@jamaicaobserver.com

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