“ Returnees ” : people who left their native countries to live, study and
work in Western states. Years later, they decide to go back home and settle.
In Senegal, Ivory Coast, Burkina-Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, I
see a lot of twenty / thirty-years old coming back in the African capitals.
Here, business is growing, private schools and hospitals are improving, sun
is shining (almost) everyday and you don’t feel as stressed as in big
I was always interested in their stories and during this reporting trip I
met three returnees.
Rahima Gambo is a Nigerian reporter and photographer. She studied in
England since she was a kid and lives now in Abuja. She is working on a
multimedia project in north Nigeria as a IWMF grantee. Its called Education
Her Twitter accounts : @RahimaGambo @eduisforbidden
Gloria Mangi is a Tanzanian journalist. She used to live in Saudi Arabia and Northern Ireland, and is
back in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for almost seven years. She manages the
African queens project.
Her Twitter accounts : @Gloriaous @AfricanQueensP
Abena Agyeman-Fisher is an American journalist. Her parents come from
Uganda and Ghana. She grew up in New Jersey and travels a lot in Africa.
She would like to move to any African country with his family. She is the
editor in chief of Face 2 face Africa. She is a IWMF fellow in Tanzania.
Her Twitter accounts : @nalima @Face2faceAFRICA
They kindly accepted to answer a few questions :
*Why did you feel the need to go back ?*
*Rahima :* When I travelled to the UK at nine years old, it was for a
specific purpose to get what my parents thought was a better education than
I would receive in Nigeria. Once every year during the summer holidays, I
would return to Nigeria where my mother and father lived, which I always
saw as home. I was very determined that after my studies (high school,
university, masters) I would return and live in Nigeria. I never saw it as
an option to stay in the UK and always imagined a future in Nigeria. I
studied Development studies, gender and social policy at university with
the intention to enter the development field when I returned to Nigeria.
*Gloria :* I had lived abroad almost my entire life and we move around a
lot and I never felt like I fit in anywhere. We would return every holiday
for a visit and when it was time to leave it was always a heart wrenching
experience, like I was betraying my country by going. So after college, I
had the option of returning and I jumped at it.
*Abena :* In any African countries I have been I felt it like home. In the
US, foreigners are not really embraced. Maybe more now but not in the 80’s.
Also, African communities stay to themselves. Ghanaians do everything with
Ghanaians, the same for Uganda people. When I was younger, as soon as my
dad picked me up at school I was in an African community (food, hair, music
etc…). I remember when I was six, my father went to my grand-father
funeral. I wanted so much to go with him but he never took me there. From
that point I knew I wanted to go. I even told my father : “ one day I will
go there without you !”.
*What are your fears / challenges ?*
*Rahima : *My fears about living in Nigeria, particularly as a woman from a
Muslim family originally from northern Nigeria are tied up with ideas of
individuality. Traditionally a woman stays in her family home until she
marries and moves into her husbands house. A woman living alone and making
her own choices are quite rare to find from my culture. One of my fears is
not being able to attain complete independence from my family unit, and
being able to sustain myself and live independently as a photographer and
Journalist. The challenges living in Nigeria stem from the usual, lack of
constant electricity, high inflation, complicated bureaucracy and
insecurity that prevents ease of mobility around the country.
*Gloria :* I was of course worried about being accepted because I refused
to fit into societies norms so it was a major adjustment learning to
in the media, I have always been very vocal about injustices done within
our country and I try to speak out about issues that have proved to be
controversial i.e women’s rights, corruption in government. I still don’t
fit in but I have learned to pick my battles.
*Abena : *I am not afraid of anything, well, maybe culture. When I am in
Africa I see things very differently than my relatives and friends over
there. Also, I don’t want my daughter to think less of her capabilities
because she is a woman.
*What do you like most since you are back ?*
*Rahima : *My sense of purpose and connection to my country that I sustain
through my work as a photographer and journalist. I feel there’s a lot to
explore and discover everyday in Nigeria. It’s exciting to be a journalist
*Gloria :* I have not only learned a lot about my own country but my
continent as well. The opportunities that are here are countless and I have
also embraced the opportunities of making a positive impact in different
communities through the work that I do.
*Abena : *What I like best when I am in Africa is the people, my friends,
my relatives, the smell, the so relaxed life style. The moment I step out
the plane, oh, I just feel great.