Ghana: Returnee Migrants – ‘Stigma of Failure’

They left Ghana in search of a better life. Some got as far as Libya only to be forced to return. There are Ghanaian returnee migrants who are bitter at seeing their dreams shattered. Others are more pragmatic.

In Tamale, capital of Ghana’s Northern Region, there are more than a thousand deported migrants. Most returned from Libya empty-handed and found rebuilding their lives a challenge.

Every week a group of Ghanaian Libya returnees meet in a park in Tamale under the shade of the trees. Umar Mashood regrets having gone to Libya.

“I went for money. I did not get money. I only suffered and came back,” he told DW.

Another returnee, Mawiya Issah, also feels he took a wrong turning in his life by leaving for Libya. His contemporaries at school, who stayed behind, are now better off than he is.

“My mates, those who were back home here, they have educated themselves well and got jobs,” he said.

Mashood says he now has to live with the stigma of failure, which doesn’t make re-integration into Ghanaian society any easier. The returnees are also given a frosty reception by local residents.

“The community doesn’t trust us,” he said.

Mashood was in Libya while fighting was raging. But his relations were unimpressed that he managed to get out of the country alive.

“They were rather complaining that I came without money,” he said.

Extra money for the family

In northern Ghana, families tend to encourage their sons to migrate, hoping they will soon receive remittances.

But those sons who have left and come back want to spread the message that this sort of thinking can be a costly mistake.

It’s an uphill task because many young Ghanaians believe life abroad really is better.

“I want to go outside and further my studies, because in outside countries as a student they motivate you with some allowances, but in Ghana there is nothing like that,” one young man told DW.

Source: Deutsche Welle