“I’m the one in paradise, don’t encourage me to go back to Babylon,” said Rashad McCrorey, an entrepreneur from Harlem, New York, about being in Ghana.
Last year, while most travelers were scrambling to book the last available flights home before international airports shut down indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McCrorey made the decision to stay in Ghana.
A single man in his 40s, McCrorey is the owner of Africa Cross Culture, a travel company that books tours for African-Americans to different African countries. At the beginning of March 2020, he had a small tour group in Ghana when the news was reporting the onset of the global pandemic and warning travelers to go home or risk being stuck abroad indefinitely.
“What originally brought me to Ghana was I was hosting a tour for some other Black Americans from my travel company,” he said. “As the trip started to progress, we started to hear more news about the coronavirus breaking out at home and threats of closing the border.” McCrorey, who had traveled to Ghana and other African countries many times before, said after weighing his options and knowing his finances were in order, he made the decision to stay in Ghana.
At the time, New York City was becoming the epicenter of the pandemic in America, and, being from Harlem with preexisting health issues, he didn’t think it would be wise to return home. Ghana, like other African countries, is known to have challenges with its health care system, and global health experts shared warnings that the continent of Africa would be hit hard by the pandemic. Despite the grim predictions, the continent, outside of South Africa, was spared the impact the rest of the world was experiencing.
Observers theorize that African countries did well because of their quick response, public support for the actions taken, favorable weather conditions, and a younger population. Ghana was one of the first countries to start checking temperatures at the airport and one of the first to implement mandatory quarantines for people entering the country.
The president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, together with Ghana Health Services, enforced mandatory COVID-19 testing of passengers arriving in the country on March 22, 2020, when the last flights arrived at the onset of the official border closure. They were one of the first countries to do so and it’s attributed as part of the country’s quick response to slow down the spread of the virus.
McCrorey says that being in Ghana has helped him maintain a healthy lifestyle and give him a sense of peace. “[I] started to work on my inner self. I had a lot of time to have reflection. … Getting everyday sun, relaxing,” he said. “A lot of spiritual inner reflection, which really has done me well.”
When asked how he is surviving in Ghana for over a year, he said, “My money is pretty situated.” He also took to writing and has had his work published in various publications including becoming Modern Ghana media outlet’s first African-American contributing writer. He is also pre-booking tour groups for 2022 while working on writing a book he plans to publish soon.
When asked if he has any plans to return to the U.S., he says living free as a Black man in an African country has less stress than living in America. Besides going on shopping trips and seeing some of his friends and family he has no plans to return. “I see myself definitely moving to another African country or two before I move back to the States. Never say never, but I don’t see myself moving back to the States. I don’t see it.”