There is more than one way to thrive in Ghana. I believe the mindset behind defining success and maneuvering reality is so important in developing the path that works for you. In this post, I introduce you to Michelle Konadu, founder of Villa Diaspora. We have an insightful discussion on her experience building Villa Diaspora in Accra, cultivating community in Ghana, and defining success. Have you heard of the “Republic Boys?” Do you know how to “face your front?” Do you know what success and family have in common in how to thrive in Ghana? We drop all the gems and spill some tea in this post.
Villa Diaspora is a co-living apartment and community space that provides a “soft-landing” to returnees, repatriates, and expats in Ghana. In this video, you also get to see an exclusive tour of Villa Diaspora. If you are looking to move and experience Ghana, you need to connect with Michelle.
I also asked Michelle what she appreciates about Ghana and what she needs Ghana to improve on. Here’s what she shared.
Things I appreciate about Ghana:
“I’m an Akan person. So, everything I thought I knew about Ghana was really just my parents’ village. But, living in Accra, it’s like a melting pot. It’s just that the pot itself is a Ga pot. Living here I’ve learned a lot about the Ga people. Our caretaker here is from the North but is not really from the North. You just learn so much about migration, culture, and people that are matrilineal versus patrilineal. Especially as a woman, I see our strength and the power we’ve always had. The woman with the baby on her back and the load on her head is self-sufficient. She is not a victim. She prioritizes. I’ve learned a lot about the women who came before me and the woman I am meant to be. We never lacked anything. We’ve been voting since voting started. We’ve owned property, sometimes even more than men. We’ve married multiple people. I love the culture.”
“I love the slower pace. I think people usually look at a slower pace as if people are slow or don’t know anything. But it’s the best thing you could do. I’ve been able to come back to my humanity. Being in Ghana keeps you on your toes. You never know when you are going to have light, water, or anything else. You might have it the majority of the time, but you’re always on your toes in case you don’t. But we don’t panic. Things happen and we sit back and say …hmmm… but it will solve itself. I think we are also great manifesters because we never speak negatively. We say “it shall be well” or “everything will be ok.” We then wait for it to be ok. I think that has a lot to do with why we are still here. Despite all that has transpired here, we are still here.”
“It’s got everything that you ever want. Whatever your lifestyle, you will find it here. If you want to be natural, you’ll find it here. If you want to be bougie, you’ll find it here like 10 times. It’s such a multifaceted place that no matter what you want in the place you can definitely find it, as long as you don’t limit yourself. Ghana will definitely not limit you.” (que…snapping fingers!)
Things I need Ghana to improve on:
“One thing Ghanaians have been able to do is to find their place in the system. It would be great if the system did work. If we had the infrastructure everyone keeps talking about and complaining about. It would be great, but we found a way to fit ourselves into things. It would be great if we could utilize our energy in other ways and didn’t have to scheme.”
Year of Return / Beyond the Return
“The Year of Return was a great idea. One thing I had an issue with though was that all of the marketing and speeches and conferences and panels were done outside in the States or London or other places. The people here who you are sending people to come and meet have no idea about what’s going on and those people who do are like ‘we’re scamming to make some cash.’ So instead of being in a position where you are educated and also heart is softened and ready to embrace these people who are coming 400 years later…because Ghanaians, we like these things…long lost siblings and stuff like that. Hence ‘sankofa,’ to go back and get is not considered taboo. I think they could have done a much better job with that and we can still do a much better job than that. Educating people on the ground so it’s a better union. We can be better educated on the diaspora to not see them as money bags or strangers. That part breaks my heart because the faces are there…our noses are the same. It’s like Don Cheadle. If I draw African, it’s you I’m drawing. I think we can do a better job of embracing each other. Educating ourselves on who we are and where else we are in the world and how much we have been able to endure. There is more of us out there than everything leads us to believe.”
It was a pleasure sharing time and learning insight from Michelle. Isn’t Villa Diaspora beautiful? I love how she has decorated the place. Sitting outside was so peaceful. I’m excited to see how Phase 2 turns out. Building community is easier said than done, but when people invest their energy and resources to create a space to house community, it makes all the difference.
What do you think of our discussion and the tour? Are you coming to stay at Villa Diaspora? Share with me in the comments.
Also, remember to connect with me wherever you spend the most time. YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook…I’m there. I love hearing from you.
Take care and be safe.
Disclaimer: this post is not sponsored.