Since Ghana’s borders were closed in March, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been thousands of people who were in the country on a visit for travel, business or leisure, who have been stuck within Ghana’s borders. Most are hoping Ghana would open soon so they could return to their respective countries. For many, it’s been a scary situation, while for others, it’s actually been more of a safe haven while watching the rest of the world battle with the Covid-19 outbreak.
For African American Entrepreneur and Writer, Rashad McCrorey, what started off as a possible scary situation, has turned into one of the greatest blessings. He had travelled to Ghana earlier this year for business shortly before Ghana confirmed its first few cases of Covid-19. As concerns grew over the danger of this global health crisis, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo made the decision to close the country’s borders. “At first I was scared,” McCrorey said when asked about his initial feelings when the pandemic broke out. “…but I reminded myself that fear is always a sign for opportunity. Once I calmed myself down, I carefully evaluated all my options.” He said he spoke with his mother and some of his Ghanaian associates in the country and he was able to conclude that his best decision was to stay in Ghana. As the United States arranged for repatriation flights back to the U.S., he could have left Ghana, but decided to stay.
McCrorey is from New York City, which was America’s Covid-19 epicentre, at the time he was making the decision to remain in Ghana. As he watched the news and what was happening there he was very concerned if going back there would be a wise decision. “I thought about my health, as I have chronic asthma,” he said. “..and what effects Covid-19 in New York City would have on my lungs.” He is the founder of Africa Cross-Culture, a travel company that specializes in back to Africa trips to Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Rwanda and Ghana. Because of the type of business he does, he thought staying would also be a wise business decision. He could better promote Ghana while he was here rather than in lockdown in New York.
“I believed that being an American in Ghana during the pandemic would be a great news story which it has proven to be. Especially considering my circumstances of only planning to be in Ghana for 2 to 3 weeks for business and now entering my sixth month in Ghana and knowing my stay is truly indefinite,” he said. Since being in Ghana during this time, McCrorey has gained media attention from news outlets in America and here in Ghana. He’s been able to give his perspective being an American in a West African country during a global pandemic. He has even become a contributing writer with reputable media outlets in Ghana and abroad.
Originally staying in Accra, he moved to Aburi when the lockdown started and now he’s fallen in love with the Central Region of Ghana and has spent a significant amount of time in Cape Coast and Elmina. He has connected with people in the diaspora community who have settle in the region. He says it feels most like home in the Central Region.
McCrorey said that he has always had a desire to visit Africa and said his late father was a true Pan Africanist. He says the urge to come to Africa started when he was just six years old. “My dad taught me about the great kings and queens of Africa. He taught me the practice of ancestral worship, meditation and thinking outside the box using intuition.” He speaks highly of his father’s influence on him when it comes to the love of Africa. “…anything I accomplish in my role of the African diaspora is attributed to his teachings,” he said.
His trip to Ghana this year is not his first. “Between 2015 to 2018 I had already visited Ghana more than a dozen times,” he said. “When I first heard about the ‘Year of Return’ initiative it was a dream come true. My mission and vision was for black Americans returning to Africa…it was like the completion of my dream coming into reality. Finally, stereotypes about Africa will be debunked by the masses.” During the ‘Year of Return’ 2019, he brought four different tour groups to Ghana with a total of 102 guests. He said that it was good that black Americans now have African tourist destinations and not just the same old non-African places they are used to like Cancun, Dubai and countless other places.
When President Nana Akufo-Addo announced 2 weeks ago that there was a possibility of the borders opening soon, there was a glimmer of hope for travellers stuck both in and out of the country. On Sunday August 30th, the president announced the official reopening of Ghana’s borders by air. Kotoka International Airport will resume operations on September 1, 2020.
When asked his plans once the country opened McCrorey said he will have to be strategic and consider all his options. He said it would depend on what benefits there are in staying in Ghana versus returning home. He suggested the possibility of simply travelling to Egypt from Ghana before even going back to the United States. “I have a long-term plan, but I am also aware that opportunities can come at any time that could extend or cut short my stay,” he continued. Even though he has been deliberate with his time in Ghana, he says the unknown still lies in returning home to the U.S.