In our series of letters from African writers, journalist and previous Ghana government minister Elizabeth Ohene composes about how the possibility of living abroad has lost its attraction in the time of coronavirus.
We used to state here in Ghana, half in jest, half in truth, that you can find a Ghanaian in every nation worldwide.
Ive heard of Ghanaians in Greenland, Iceland and Papua New Guinea. I confess, I have not heard about a Ghanaian in the Faroe Islands, which is my idea of the most unique and faraway location, but I wouldnt be surprised if among us exists.
From the middle of the 1970s through to the end of the 1990s, circumstances had conspired to turn us into a travelling people.
When they travel, ghanaians abroad are delighted to turn out to support the countrys sports teams
Over the past 20 years we have actually continued to do it, not due to the fact that the things that used to drive us away still exist, but just because it has become a routine and our minds are tuned that way.
The middle classes now try to send their pregnant spouses to deliver children in the United States. They plead, steal and borrow to send their children to universities in the US and UK and encourage the kids to remain on after completing school.
Then there are the adventurers amongst us who have actually always removed to go and try their luck and seek fortunes wherever is said to be the current land of gold.
Under the radar Ghanaians
No trustworthy stats exist on precisely the number of Ghanaians there are in different countries worldwide, never ever mind what they are doing there.
A few of them, obviously, are growing where they are, and making Ghana proud. But there are much of them who, it is extensively understood, are living “under the radar” and trying to “regularise” their paperwork and so do not promote the reality they are Ghanaians.
They might be attempting to live undetected, however we understand they exist. Through holding down two or 3 tasks, they send the odd $100 to assist with a mothers food costs.
It is a badge of honour to say you have a relation abroad and we flex over backwards to accommodate their wishes when it comes to making arrangements for funerals and attendant events.
Those amongst them who can travel, that is those who have actually “regularised” their visa circumstances, usually strategy and make the 10-day or two-week journey to Ghana to overtake family and friends, usually over the Christmas duration.
The locations that young individuals had actually been willing to provide an arm and a leg to go to, were no longer appealing”
When they are here, they behave as one does on holidays and splash money around; no-one becomes aware of them having a tough life there, and we see them as success stories. They are a motivation for other young individuals to escape and try from Ghana and go abroad.
Coronavirus showed up.
The locations that young people had been ready to provide a leg and an arm to go to were no longer appealing, as China, Europe and America were struck hard by the virus. The talk turned to bringing Ghanaians house from abroad. All of a sudden Ghana ended up being an appealing place.
The Ghanaians abroad were distressed and they revealed it.
” Please dont let what is happening in Europe and America occur in our country” was the continuous refrain.
Factories in Ghana are standardizing face masks
As the crisis has actually continued, the perception of Ghanaians abroad being the fortunate ones has actually gradually been changing.
It was not simply the report back in May that 33 Ghanaians had actually died from Covid-19 in New York that shook everyone, it was the growing desperation from Ghanaians abroad who wished to come back house.
You may also have an interest in:
If we found during the lockdown that in Ghanas huge cities it was tough for lots of people to survive without the day-to-day hustle, then we got to realise that it was difficult to survive at all abroad as a hustler in the time of coronavirus.
People might no longer live “under the radar” and undocumented migrants who, up until then had been welcome for doing tasks for half the typical wages, ended up being possible and unwanted prospects for being blamed as the source of the disease.
Landlords who used to lease apartment or condos and rooms to individuals living in the shadows now desired to make sure they had a legitimate visa.
With organisations shutting down and everyone wishing to reduce expenditure, numerous of our individuals found they had actually become surplus to requirements.
Grass is not greener
We have been searching in dismay as the truths of the lives of a lot of those who are abroad have been exposed.
It ends up that much of the girls who went abroad to be baby-sitters and maids in Lebanon and other Arab nations lead unbearable lives that no-one would accept in Ghana.
It ends up that in spite of the high-rise buildings and 10-lane highways, the sleeping arrangements for many of our youths in China and some European countries are no different from our regional shanty towns.
Coronavirus has actually made everyone take a look at things from a different perspective.
People wish to get home however the borders are closed.
You might want to see:
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionCoronavirus: Ghana quack physicians selling treatment.
More Letters from Africa:.
The Ghanaians in your home feel the infection was brought into the country by travellers from Europe and China, and are therefore not enthusiastic about allowing a lot more individuals.
There are some evacuation flights taking location, but with most airline companies not flying, they are expensive. Equally pricey are the protocols for getting in Ghana, which require that on arrival you go into a 14-day quarantine in a hotel kept an eye on by the security services.
Abroad appears to have actually lost its lustre.
For the moment, it appears the location to be is right here in Ghana.
Follow us on Twitter @BBCAfrica, on Facebook at BBC Africa or on Instagram at bbcafrica.