Meet the Social Entrepreneur at the Forefront of the Ghanaian Renaissance

Meet the Social Entrepreneur at the Forefront of the Ghanaian Renaissance

Meet L. Nzingha Samuel, the social entrepreneur behind the “Ghanaian Renaissance” who has created her own neighborhood in Kumasi, Ghana.

In 2019, Ghana’s “Year of Return” campaign and the continued racial unrest in America prompted thousands of Black Americans to trace their roots and come home to Ghana. But Samuel had already committed herself to consciously bridging the gap between communities in Kumasi, Ghana, and Atlanta by creating programs and initiatives to support Ghana’s socio-economic development.

After investing in several properties in Ghana, Samuel has made it her mission to assist her friends, family, and colleagues in building homes there as well.

As part of her work in Ghana, Samuel helped develop a sister-city relationship between the Honorable Mayor Anthony S. Ford of Stockbridge, Georgia, and Honorable Mayor Christian Adu-Poku of Kumasi, Ghana, and provided over 100+ tools and supplies to local schools and hospitals around Ghana.

Speaking with BLACK ENTERPRISE, Samuel shared her inspiration to invest in Ghana.

“I have been traveling to Ghana for almost 20 years now, and mainly to Kumasi, where my godfather lives. I would live at his compound for 1- 2 months and fell in love with the rich culture and heritage, friendly people, and the beauty of Ghana. I also met my fiance during those trips—I’ve known him for 19 years now. He chose to settle in Kumasi, so we decided to build a home there together.”

“When racial unrest began causing major issues in the U.S. several years ago, I decided to create another pipeline for Blacks throughout the diaspora so we could have a sense of ownership and belonging. Ghana also sponsored the “Year of Return” in 2019, so it became a perfect storm inspiring me to settle in my “home” country and establish my family there.”

“For many of us, Ghana also provides a cultural compass, leading us home — regardless of where we may have come from originally. We know at some point we all graced the African shores.” – L. Nzingha Samuel

“I also realized my international travels and community development experience could really make a difference in the space. Once my close friends found out I was building there, they also purchased land and began to build. The community expanded rapidly by word of mouth. Now, there are over 15 families in our community, spanning over 20 plots of land (which is about 5 acres) throughout the area.”

“Additionally, I brokered a sister-city relationship between Stockbridge, Georgia, and the Afigya-Kwabre district where I reside in Kumasi, Ghana. This relationship added another layer to the pipeline I am creating between our people throughout the diaspora and Kumasi, Ghana.”

What are some of your hopes for bridging the gap between communities in Kumasi and Atlanta?

“It started with Atlanta and Kumasi, but it has branched out from there! We currently have a resident from Jamaica that is building a home, and we are receiving inquiries daily from other places around the United States. People from all over are looking to join the community!”

“I hope to create a second phase of the community later this year and expand the offerings within both. I would like to create a co-op space where community residents can invest in farmland and grow their own food. I am also looking to build a neighborhood co-working space in addition to small stores and shops so that residents can have access to native Ghanian foods and produce as well.”

“I am also working on an ecotourism project in Kumasi; an immersive art installation bringing stories and folktales from throughout the diaspora to life; a sports academy for athletes to be seen by international scouts, and an aviation project in the area. I have also been actively working with the local community and community members from the diaspora to build the entire area into a sustainable and multifunctional destination for the greater global community to experience.”

What was the process like when creating a neighborhood in Kumasi?

“It was a pretty easy process for me because my fiance is Ghanaian and was born and raised not far from the location. He speaks the language and understands the system, so the barriers to entry were very low. Plus, soon after I began building there, I fostered a relationship with local government officials, so I also have their support.”

“You have no idea who your neighbor is or where they are from in the community! Everyone builds their home in the same area, but we live amongst the people sprinkled throughout. We work with Ghanaians in the neighborhood to facilitate change and develop the area. We are truly becoming one family again. It is not a utopia, but it can be whatever we make it—collectively.”

What are some stigmas you hope Black Americans can break through your initiative?

“I hope Black Americans can work through a lot of our emotional traumas through this process. We have an opportunity to unplug, decompress, and contribute in ways we haven’t had space to do before.”

“We also have an opportunity to simply “matter” by virtue of our very existence as opposed to having to explain why we should “matter” to anyone else. We know everyone won’t move to Ghana, and we also know we have a lot of work to do within our own communities at home.”

“We are hoping to impact our collective consciousness by building relationships with our brothers and sisters abroad that can impact and influence our movements back here in the U.S. and around the world. We can create a base where we have the freedom to move about and establish ourselves in ways we have not been able to before.

“I also hope Black Americans shed the stigma that continental-born Africans “don’t like us” (and vice versa). There is a lot of miscommunication and ignorance on both sides of that conversation.”

“The more we visit and experience Ghana and other countries throughout the diaspora, the more we can have a mutual appreciation and respect for one another’s existence and contribution.”

Tell us about your sister-city relationship between Mayor Anthony S. Ford of Stockbridge, Georgia, and Honorable Mayor Christian Adu-Poku of Kumasi, Ghana.

“This relationship is the brainchild of myself and Dr. Alan Peterson II, Economic Development Director, City of Stockbridge. I was driving through the city and thought about how I wanted to do more to combat the racial unrest happening throughout the U.S. at the time, specifically within Stone Mountain, Georgia, at that moment. I then met with Dr. Peterson, and we remained in communication as I traveled back and forth to Ghana, establishing the community.”

“Dr. Peterson shared his vision of what this kind of relationship could be for the residents of Stockbridge, especially small to medium-size business owners and entrepreneurs. The District Chief Executive of the Afigya-Kwabre South district in Kumasi, Ghana, was very eager about this opportunity to fortify relationships in the U.S. From there, Dr. Peterson and I were able to broker the relationship between both parties and establish their sister-city relationship. The document was officially signed in December 2021, and I brought it back to the U.S. in January 2022. Now, we are currently working to establish programs and initiatives that will be mutually beneficial for Stockbridge and Kumasi.”

“We hope to create a pipeline for business owners to travel and look to Ghana to source and manufacture goods. We also are establishing ways Stockbridge residents can establish industries within this district in Ghana, helping to build the workforce there and to support their businesses back home in the U.S. We are going to sponsor festivals, cultural exchanges with West Africans and other community members from the diaspora, to share resources, information, and create ideas for future development.”

“We also want to speak to community members on both sides to see how we can ensure young girls and women can support one another between the two cities. Above all else, we hope to break down barriers on both sides and have both communities grow from the opportunity.”