Select Page

A Ghanaian in Abidjan

by | May 30, 2020 | Lifestyle

There is no doubt that the current outbreak of coronavirus has changed the way we live and has put many of our plans on hold. We have all heard many stories about the effects that the global pandemic has had on the lives of people around us.

Stories of lives changed, jobs lost, and the disappearance of loved ones. Stories of families stranded in other countries and people struggling to adapt to the new reality that their liberty is temporarily restricted.

So, it is in this global context that I have decided to share my own story. The story of a Ghanaian (stuck) in Abidjan who has decided to accept the current situation and make the most of it.

I moved to Abidjan about two years ago, to work at one of the best pan African marketing agencies. I was, however, planning to leave the country in early April and spend some time with my family.

For a bit more context, if you were to look up “global citizen” in the thesaurus, there would be a picture of my family in it. The Boafo family (or clan) is spread all over the world: my dad lives in Jamaica; my mom is in Ghana and my siblings are in Europe and North America. Needless to say, that family reunions are difficult to coordinate, especially when you add 6 nieces and a nephew to the equation.

Unfortunately, I found myself unable to leave Cote d’Ivoire when the government decided to close the borders, as a means to limit the spread of the virus. The timing could not be worse, and I still have no clue when the borders will finally re-open.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have come to accept the situation and learned the following three valuable lessons:

1. We are in this together.

In Cote d’Ivoire, there is a popular expression that says “on est ensemble” which translates to “we are together” or “we are in this together”.

Over the past few weeks, I have seen this being acted out in how generous people around me have been. Generous not only to me but to others. When I needed a place to stay because my lease had run out and the borders were closed, a friend offered me a place to stay.

Never have I felt so connected to people on the other side of the world with all the Zoom, FaceTime, and WhatsApp calls. Many have and continue to make it a point to check in on those that they love but sometimes don’t have the time because of life…

Too often, people talk about how humans are terrible and have seen numerous social media posts about how we are the problem and that the virus is the earth’s way of fighting back against us (as if we were some kind of cancer…)

Remembering that we are in this together helps you put your current situation into perspective and ultimately frees you to be able to help others. I truly believe that deciding to stick together is the best strategy for us all to navigate these tough times.

2. Be adaptable.

One definition of adaptable is “able to adjust oneself readily to different conditions”.

Since moving back to Africa in 2012, I have come to realize the importance of being adaptable. During that time, I have seen many people move to the continent and continue to act as if they were still living in a Western country.

Not only is this culturally insensitive, but it is also a sure recipe for a failed move (back) to Africa. One must carefully analyze the environment with its complex codes, traditions, and ways of interacting and adapt to get the most one can from the context.

I am not talking about putting on a mask or changing who you are at the core but adapting to the new reality. This is something that proves difficult for most people as we all tend to be averse to change.

In the context of COVID-19, being adaptable means slowing things down to assess your current situation, adjusting your plans, and pivoting, if need be.

Many people around the world now find themselves without jobs or in a situation that they would have never predicted at the beginning of the year. By adjusting their strategy, they will be able to make the most of the situation and find opportunities amid the turmoil.

3. Keep moving forward.

Just because your plans have been delayed or canceled, does not mean that things can’t happen. No one knows when the world will go back to normal (or more accurately, the new “normal”).

Take the time to do something that you have been postponing. Have you been meaning to learn how to paint or learn a new language? You might as well do it now and at your own pace!

In the end, it does not matter how you define “moving forward” but that you set that bar for yourself and hold yourself accountable. It will be tough at times and you might feel discouraged or that you are not making much progress but keep at it.

It’s important to not put too much pressure on yourself but remember to keep moving forward at your own pace. If that means putting aside only 15 minutes to read a book that you have been meaning to, then do that! No need to listen to all those voices (mainly on social media) that urge you to become the next e-commerce guru!

What is your C19 story? What lessons have you learned in the last few weeks? Share your experiences with me on Twitter: @JonBoafo!

This originally appeared on

You May Also Like…

Finding My Distant Relatives in Kenya – Romain Mari

Finding My Distant Relatives in Kenya – Romain Mari

Romain Mari is a social entrepreneur and a good friend that I have known since middle school in France.   Armed with a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology and Ecology and a Master’s in Environmental Management, he set out to build a business with a purpose in...

Ayesha Harruna Attah on Being a Published African Writer

Ayesha Harruna Attah on Being a Published African Writer

With the release of her latest book The Deep Blue Between, Ayesha Harruna Attah has now authored four books. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Ayesha about her journey to publishing her books, her writing routine, and what inspired her latest book. As a...