Black Women Doing the Most: Ghana

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Black Expat in Ghana
Nomatic Life on the Move

Jackie: What’s up, y’all? And I have gotten so many DMs, comments from you guys about Africa, the continent. And as most of you guys know, I am half Nigerian. So I’m all about people moving to Africa. If you do it correctly, you do it in the right way. Africa don’t need you to save us guys. We don’t need it. But if you want to come and be a part of the continent, and just build up and inspire and motivate and just be a part of this glorious, the first continent then come on, you guys are more than welcome. So hey, guys, hey, if this is your first time to my channel, my name is Jackie O and I am an OG; original black digital nomad and globetrotting mama. I have been crisscrossing the globe for the last 25 years. Yes, y’all 25 years. That’s why I’m an OG. And currently, I slow travel full time with my toddler daughter Ruth. And, my whole channel is devoted to uplifting, inspiring and teaching other black women how to travel full time and or move abroad. So today we’re gonna get into it. We’re gonna talk about Ghana, I am interviewing a phenomenal woman. She is not only my Spelman sister, she is my mentor. I met her a long, long, long time ago when I was at Bally’s studying in Madrid, Spain. She mentored me, she motivated me. I was able to reconnect with her when I was in Accra, Ghana. And so we just want to talk about her story, her journey, and practical advice for each and every one of you who are interested in picking up, [Inaudible 01:45] and coming into the beautiful, glorious, and immensely diverse continent of Africa. So let’s get into it. Jollof in Ghana might not be that great, but the people and the culture are phenomenal. Let’s do it. Sup O squad? How is everyone doing? As most of you guys know, I have a daily gratitude practice where I just give thanks to like the universe, the higher power for everything that’s magical in my life. And like today let me just tell y’all, I am so excited for this podcast/vlog because this sister right here, one is my Spelman sister, two is my sorer but like three is truly like a black woman doing the most I am so proud of her. And guys, this woman, you know how you can say the stars are aligned. God puts people in your life for a reason. Like, Krista came into my life, I believe when I was like 19 or 20 and I was in Spain. And it’s so funny because I remember telling my mom I said, “Mom, I met this phenomenal like, black girl, I just want to model my life after. She’s like, she just took me under her wing showed me the grid, like she was just amazing”. And then fast forward and it’s probably like 20 years later, and I’m in line in Accra, Ghana and this fabulously dressed sister with this amazing and like hair,

Christa: Hilarious. 

Jackie: Like started asking me questions and I’m like, “wait, I know you”. 

Christa: That was a moment in time I will never forget. I had to look at you kind of with the side eye. And then I look at you again, and I said “Wait. Syracuse University study abroad”. And I’m not gonna say the year on this program because I don’t want to date myself, but let’s just say it was the late 90s. Right? There was Jackie and she was a student on that program. And at the time, what was I doing? I was the head of counseling for that program. So amazing to reconnect over all of these years and to still be connected right here. 

Jackie: Yep. I mean, I just want to thank you because you were truly like a beautiful person. You have remained a beautiful person, definitely had an influence on my life in Spain. And like throughout. I cannot say when I moved into West Africa girl because you noticed a curve, there’s a learning curve.

Christa: There is. 

Jackie: And you just made it that much easier for my transition. And everybody knows my brother always teases me because he’s like, “Why don’t you just get back on a plane just move back to Accra”, because you were always there anyway. 

Christa: You enjoyed Accra, yes I recall. I mean, look, there’s nothing like West Africa. Right? Right. 

Jackie: Absolutely.

Christa: For so many reason. So it was beautiful to reconnect on the continent. 

Jackie: Yes, it is very special. And you are there right now, which I think is specifically in this time, right? When there’s so many. They just went through the year of the return, there are so many black people in America who have done like DNA tests or just over the United States and feel this calling to come back to West Africa. And some of them have through their DNA results, found their ancestral connection, a DNA connection to Ghana, and I just want to hear about one, how did you get there? And then two, what message would you have to them who are like they want to come home. The good, the bad, the not so good. 

Christa: Right. I mean, well, you know, I have been here for some time now. First of all, you are going to make me date myself Jackie. Anyway, I came here with the intention of staying five years, I turned around last year, and I realized it’s 15 years. And next month, it’s 16 years. So I have been here for a significant portion of my life. But my love and my passion for Ghana and the African continent dates back to 1999 when I first took a trip with my father, who’s a university professor at Virginia Union University. So he’s at a historically black college at the seminary there. And he’s been bringing groups of students who are studying religion, obviously, to Ghana and to Ethiopia since 93. So my first exposure to Ghana was a trip with him with his graduate students. And let’s just say at the moment, I was literally at the door of no return. I know that that may sound a bit dramatic, but it’s just very true. So I felt that spiritual connection I said, “I want to come home to that, but also if there’s an opportunity to live here, to work to study, I mean, this would be ideal”. Fast forward, a few years later, I found myself in that position and was fortunate and blessed on another trip to Ghana years later. And that was just more of a personal trip that I had taken to run into the first group of NYU New York University students who were basically exploring Ghana with their professor on maybe if you will, a two week, three week program. We happen to be in the same hotel and you know me at the time I looked very different. I had a big ol’ Afro, I had the red t shirt that said Harlem, and I was with my Ghanaian boyfriend at the time who looked like sculpture. Can I say that on this video? 

Jackie: We don’t sister. 

Christa: You know, the students were approaching me asking who I was. It was clear I was not from Ghana I guess but they wanted to know. And the next thing I knew, because I’ve always had this in me, right? And maybe that also proves that I and we, as a people come from West Africa. That entrepreneurial side of myself, I immediately took my business card out. I told the professors ahead of those students, “I’ve always wanted to work for NYU. Well, what are you doing here? Tell me a little bit more about this group”. And he said, “Well, believe it or not, NYU is about to open its first study abroad location on the African continent that is semester year-long option, and is this of interest”? And I said, “Well, absolutely. It’s of interest. Here’s my business card”. And that was the beginning of a discussion. Now fast forward. “We want you to commit to minimum of three years maximum of five to help develop this study abroad program”. And when I got to the fifth year, I mean, I was just loving Ghana, and there’s so much as you know, Jackie, to love about Ghana. From the history to the cultural connection to the nightlife to every aspect of the culture. 

Jackie: The people, the men, the men loos like they were cultured.

Christa: Yes. Listen, I’m married now so be careful. I can’t talk too much about that. Yes, I was not married for a good 10 years that I was here. So yes, all of that and more was so appealing to me that when I entered the fifth year, I just couldn’t leave. I was so captivated by the city and the country and the sub region of West Africa, the bustling spirit of West Africans, just everything about it was just so beautiful for me that I said, I wanted to stay. And I will tell you after that fifth year, between the fifth and the 10th year, I kept saying, “No, I got to return home. No, I got to go to the US or no, I want to go to another part of the world”. And then what happened? I met somebody. But we also have presence in yes, in Asia and Europe, North America. And of course, this is our only location right now in Africa, where you can receive a US accredited degree, both undergraduate and graduate programs, and I’m in charge of it. So I’ve had career progression in this period. Sometimes people think you go abroad, will the career opportunities be the same? Is it possible to be successful overseas and here in Ghana, and yes, it is. At least it has been for me. I’ve been very blessed, but I’ve also worked very hard for it. And now I’m running the institution. I share with you that out of 10 campuses around the world, I’m the only black woman running a campus of Webster overseas and that’s a very exciting opportunity. And it is also very, very challenging. And I’ve enjoyed it because it started as a baby. I have the opportunity just like with NYU to really grow this program. But this is a full-fledged University similar to the NYU Abu Dhabi model and the NYU Shanghai model. I don’t know if you’re familiar or your audience is familiar with those campuses, where you actually get a US accredited degree in four years for undergrad and 14 months for grad. And that’s what I’m in charge of. That’s what I’m doing today. 

Jackie: I think that’s amazing that you tell people that Christa because people sometimes don’t even think about like, I can actually go to a US accredited institution overseas. 

Christa: Yes. 

Jackie: Led by a black woman. 

Christa: Yes, yes. In fact, building upon the Year of Return, which was very, very successful. So I’m sure your audience already knows about the Year of Return, but it was the opportunity to return to connect to our roots, right. And so that was very successful. Now we’re in the Year Beyond the Return, which is about investment into Ghana and to the continent, if you will. And so this is a great time to be here, to be in Africa. We always talk about Africa rising. It has been rising for very, very many years now, but it’s at its peak, I believe. Now, it’s unfortunately at COVID. But we’re still managing as best as we can. And I welcome everyone to try to look into the opportunities. There are so many to come here and to make a life for yourself. 

Jackie: Oh, Christa, thank you for so much for that introduction. But it was more than an introduction. 

Christa: Was that an introduction? Oh, my goodness. 

Jackie: Girl, you gave the most but like I want the most. So that was so beautiful. I mean, it just inspires so many people and you’ve been in Ghana now for close to 15, 16 years, right?

Christa: Yes. 

Jackie: You’ve seen the changes, and what advice would you give to someone who isn’t just sitting at home, watching YouTube, listening to this podcast and wants to make the first steps to making it happen. 

Christa: Well, I think that you have to be ambitious. You’ve got to put fear aside and know that there’s nothing that you can’t accomplish. If you are passionate, and you want to make it happen, we can do anything we put our minds to. So first of all, you have to have that type of attitude and perspective. Another thing is that you have to research very well, where you’re going, what the opportunities are. So for Ghana, for example, there are a number of different websites I would recommend. We have our Accra Expat. We have the Ahaspora website. Black Noah, you know, for travelers, I’m sure you all know all about that. When I came here all these years back, I first had the NYU job so I was interested in coming over and working for an entity that is already very well established. Being able to have some of the benefits that we have in the US, for example, namely health insurance is very important. I wanted a global health insurance in case of anything. And we have very good hospitals and clinics and doctors here, by the way, but it’s still important to have a good health insurance. I wanted to have a competitive salary. I wanted to be able to contribute to social security and all those things. That opportunity was provided to me through working for an American University. And then fortunately, when I came to Webster, the same applied. Remember when you come as an expat, if you will, typically, these packages also would include hopefully some housing, some transportation, flight tickets, and so on and so forth. So if you can set something up like this, for me, I’m being a bit conservative. But I think that’s ideal because then there’s less stress that is involved in that type of arrangement. But there are plenty of people and I’d say more often than not the individual that I know most of them are entrepreneurs. So they come over here, they set up their own businesses. I mean, the sky’s the limit, because a lot of things haven’t been tried out or sampled here before. And so really the world is your oyster. In a country like Ghana, there’s a lot of things and the market is eager to try new things or things that are already developed in the West. You can bring them here with an African twist, or a diaspora twist, and it becomes very, very attractive. So I think that there’s a lot of ways to go about this. But definitely, you know, Ghana, people think, well, you’re coming to Africa, so it’s cheap. Living in a city like Accra, that is not true. It’s one of the most expensive cities in Africa. And so with housing and so on and so forth, it depends on how you want to live also. So there’s a wide range, but I would suggest that you have some savings, just as a backup in case of anything. 

Jackie: Yeah. And Christa, I’m glad you said that, because people do like when they think of Africa, the continent, they think they are so cheap, and I even been looking at a lot of videos on YouTube in regards to moving in Africa. And people are saying, “Oh, you can get this wonderful place for like 300 400 a month” and I’m like, Where? 

Christa: Well, here’s the thing. You can get those places, but they’re far out of the city. So, if you’re okay with a 45 minutes hour commute, then fine. Or if you want to live in the city and you want to rough it a bit and live in a one room space, in a communal sort of housing environment where it is shared bathrooms and things like that in the city. I’ve been to 85 countries. I went and I actually counted it. I really have and I’ve seen a lot of the world and so I know what it is to stay in a place. The cheapest place I’ve ever stayed in was 75 cents a night. Okay, and that was in Nicaragua. I’ve also stayed in a place for $2 a night in Nairobi with no roofing, you know, I mean, it depends what you want. There’s many options even in Ghana, I’m sure you can find places that would be similar. But for living thing you need to be a bit comfortable as well because you’re going to working you’re going to have a life. 

Jackie: I need a comfortable bed at this point. 

Christa: Yeah comfortable bed. And then look you haven’t thought about or people may not consider if they haven’t been here we don’t have Lagos traffic, but we do have a crowd traffic. And so it’s a lot so when you’re going through the hustle and bustle of a major city, which is what Accra is, when you come home at night, you need a haven you can walk into so housing is a consideration. But some of the websites I just mentioned, do list a number of properties that you can rent and there’s plenty of affordable options as well. 

Jackie: And then Accra is similar to Lagos in the sense that you usually have to pay your rent a year in advance or no? 

Christa: Yes, yes. But nowadays you know, the real estate market, I should say has plummeted a bit. You look at COVID, you look at the economy, you look at the world, the way things are going, I mean, people need affordable options. So there is a huge development of affordable properties now. Townhouses and other things that you’ll see even for sale; for purchase. That’s beginning to come up a lot in in Ghana. And so most people unless you have an incredible amount of savings, wouldn’t be able to put that kind of deposit. So you don’t have to necessarily do a year. You may be able to negotiate six months, six months. And that’s the beauty of West Africa. This is the world of negotiation. And I’ve learned negotiation skills better than a Nigerian. When I’ve been in Nigeria sorry, Jackie. When I’ve been in Nigeria, they say, “Oh, are you an Ebo? Are you a…”? Because West Africa has taught me the power of negotiation. And that is something I am very good at in this part of the world. It’s also taught me patience, because you got to be patient to live here. Not everything goes as you would plan or envision and time maybe of essence in the US, but time is endless in our part of the world. So, you have to be patient. 

Jackie: Christa, all my question is like, you’re acting like I gave you a script and like you’re getting all my questions because stop trying to fight it like stop expecting people to be on time. Stop expecting like somebody said it would take a week to do something and realize it’s going to two months. Like after something like that, it’s like okay, like, no holla like the Nigerians say. 

Christa: Yes, of course. No holla, we stay in here too. Right? Yes, really? 

Jackie: And that was actually gonna be my next question just talking about a little bit more about like, culture shock and getting over the fact that. Because I think a lot of people it takes them a minute to realize like, you ain’t in American no more. 

Christa: No, you’re not. There’s an adjustment that takes place. 

Jackie: Everything isn’t going to work like it is in America. Like some countries are not going to have power. 

Christa: Right. Listen, sometimes you’re not going to have water for days. 

Jackie: Yes. 

Christa: Even in my situation where I’ll admit, I’ve been blessed. I have a beautiful house. It’s in a nice neighborhood with diplomatic missions. I mean I’ve worked to a point where I’m able to afford ahis type of situation, all of last week, we didn’t have electricity. We had four days without electricity. Now, of course, we had a generator. But when I first moved to Ghana, I remember I mean, Jackie, you’re gonna laugh at this. And for those of you who’ve traveled to Africa, and to the developing world, you’ll also probably laugh. And in order for the lights to power on, you need a generator, and there was no generator. So for the first five years, I just got, in a sense, I started to appreciate moonlight. I learned to appreciate, you know, sitting on my terrace with candles and how beautiful and peaceful and to connect with nature, but prior to that, I really was stressed out about it. So I think you know, this kind of experience of not being around the comforts that we have often in America, right. Which are very superficial comforts by the way, when they’re taken away from you something changes within you. You become more patient, you’ve come more tolerant, and you become more sensitive to the way the majority of the world’s people live. And I think that’s part of the experience of being abroad. And I experienced that in Brazil too, when I lived in Brazil and I’ve experienced it even. Okay, in a Western setting when I lived in Spain, it wasn’t always perfect, right? And America, I think we tend to get a bit spoiled with these things. So I’ve always told students I’m sure I told you when you were on the program, and I certainly tell students here in Ghana. You have to put those Western sort of ideologies, excuse me, and preferences and customs on the back burner, literally. Like leave them and be open to a very new experience with patience and an open heart and an open mind. I would say for anyone who wants to relocate or even spend a month or less in Ghana, if you’re not patient. I’m not so sure you’ll love the place because you have to be equipped with that patience. Patience is a virtue, isn’t it? Well, it’s one I didn’t have before living here. I paid and it backfired for me in work settings, often with my Ghanaian colleagues who would look at me like she can just go back to the United States, you know, and I had to learn to calm down and be patient. 

Jackie: Christa I couldn’t agree more. One of the things I had to learn is calm down. Like things don’t work, like how you want them to work all the time. And that’s okay. Like, people have their own way of doing things and you just go back. Now I want to skip a little bit because I know one of the biggest questions I get when people talk about moving to Africa is like safety. 

Christa: Oh, yes. 

Jackie: You moved as a single woman alone. 

Christa: Yes, I did. 

Jackie: To a major African city. Like I’m not gonna say a major West African city like Accra is a major powerhouse within the continent. 

Christa: Yes. 

Jackie: I would just like you to speak a little bit because one of the big things people always in my like DMS or my inbox about is like, “Jackie, how am I gonna be safe”? And I’m like one like, have we seen a six United States? But… 

Christa: Right. Okay, let me just say I’ve never felt safer. I mean, I’ve lived in Europe too. And you know that I mean, we talked about Spain. I’ve also lived in Germany. I’ve lived in Brazil, and all of those countries I was very conscious of locking my door at night. I mean, this is not something I’m going to advocate for anyone moving here but I can tell you I’ve often slept with my door unlocked. It’s not something I advise but remember I am now I you know, I’ve got my husband. I have security. We have a security company at the house, but it’s a very safe place. I would say that it doesn’t mean that we don’t have petty theft. So petty theft is focused on stealing things like mobile phones, or computers. There’s a large underground market for those type of things. It happens and it happens all over the world. But when I look and I evaluate everywhere I’ve lived and I mentioned the countries I’ve lived, this, by far is the safest. And particularly because we don’t have this gun violence. Like our security guards here, I’m in the office. I’m here at Webster University today. Security guards here not even allowed to carry weapons and their security guys. When I say weapons, I mean, they’re not allowed to be armed with guns. There are laws against that in the country. So that should sort of tell your audience what kind of country it is. Very safe, very secure, Ghanaians are very friendly. Jackie, I know you having a background as a Nigerian may not agree with me, but it’s considered to be the friendliest country in West Africa. 

Jackie: Don’t even talk about the Jollof. I was like okay. 

Christa: Ghana Jollof is definitely the best forget about Nigeria Jollof. Those are just jealous wars. No, you know, it’s very safe and very secure. You have to definitely like I’ve always told students when I’ve done orientations for study abroad, like with NYU and even here because we have study abroad students from US who come to the Webster campus as well. I mean, you definitely should still keep your New York City LA Pittsburgh smarts about you. You don’t want to walk out assuming that it’s all palm trees. And you know, it’s, you know, that type of life either. It’s a major city in the world, but it’s definitely you’re not watching your back every five minutes. Definitely not. 

Jackie: No, thank you. Thank you so much for that. 

Christa: Yeah. 

Jackie: There are a lot of people out there who need to hear that because they just hear Africa and not even Ghana, and they always think the worst right? And it’s so much of like getting your mind ready to move abroad is changing your mindset. 

Christa: Your mindset, yes, has to be an automatic click or I’ll never forget, when I was working in study abroad at NYU, we would have parents who would say, “but I mean isn’t there some major conflict”? And we’d say, “That’s South Sudan”. “Yeah, I mean it’s right near you”. No we’re looking at 54 nations. Ghana is very, very safe. 

Jackie: Christa, I can’t have a conversation with you without talking about like the fashion. Your fashion and then the fashion of West Africa because for those of you all listen, like let me just tell you, you can’t not like a fashion store you can go into in Accra and may not know madam, Christa. Okay. Like hands down. I don’t know if there’s like a socialite magazine, but she is a fashionista, okay? 

Christa: You are funny. Oh my goodness you’re complimenting me so much today even though we have right now this is a promotion for my university. 

Jackie: [Inaudible 35:14] Webster University. 

Christa: Yes, and we also have them in African print.

Jackie: Christa, you have to admit like West African women which I consider you one of like they can dress.

Christa: Oh yes, I mean you don’t go out with any sweaters American style, I call it the Old Navy style and I like Old Navy don’t get me wrong. In case any Old Navy folks are listening. But no and the sweat pants, the jeans, the kind of relax kind of thing. No, no, no, we really dress in West Africa. And I feel that’s very much it shows who we are as a people today. How we always say black folk go to church and we dress. Well, where did it come from? It came from here because people here could outdo us in the States, yes. How you put yourself together is very, very important. I always tell students who’ve come when they want to do an internship, for example, or entering workplace for the first time, you need to put yourself together appropriately. And you should be observing what you see the Ghanaian women do, or the Nigerian women or the Burkina Bay, or the Ivorians. I mean, throughout West African throughout the African continent in general, dressing is very important. And I think it’s wonderful that we see now in the world, especially in the US, a lot of the celebrities, Beyoncé and others who are supporting the African prints, right. And this is the time for these prints. I mean, they’re beautiful. Jackie and I have spent a lot of time in different shops. I don’t want to embarrass her but she has a whole nice collection from a number of designers, including the one I’m wearing today, red cotton. And we’ve had, you know, during the Year of Return, you know, they had the full circle with the celebrities coming from the US. Essence took over that the full circle. And I mean, all of them, were just going wild for these African prints. 

Jackie: They’re gorgeous. 

Christa: They’re gorgeous. 

Jackie: And Christa do you know what, one thing I used to always bring, like a little tear to my eye when I was living in Africa was that you would see somebody like a janitor in his fresh pressed outfit. Just the pride that they would have and just wear like I was just like it’s hot. It’s sweaty, [Inaudible 37:49] everywhere, but like, there is so much pride and integrity in how things look. 

Christa: Exactly, exactly. And you could have someone who literally comes from a much challenged background, not having come from a great means let’s just say that. But yet if you see them in church, they look like a million dollars. You see them at the mosque, wow, they are Dangote. I mean, right. We take great pride in putting ourselves together. And I think there’s also a great business and investment opportunity in African prints. And you see that people around the world are doing that as well. Investing in the cloth, investing in the textiles. The beautiful kente, for example, comes from Ghana, I think most of us know that. And for those who are lovers of art, I mean, this place is a dream. I feel like my house not to boast again, but I feel like it’s become like a little Museum of African art ease I have collected many pieces from across the continent. There’s so much beauty here. So much talent, raw talent, literally some of it undiscovered, you know, much of it undiscovered. So there’s a lot that you can see and experience and also feel, I think being in this part of the world. 

Jackie: You know, I also just want to touch a little bit like on the diversity of Ghana, because I also feel like us sitting in an America or African Americans when they think about West Africans, they kind of lump them all together, right? Like there are similarities between us right? Even Ghana but like when I think about like Nigerians, the diversity within. 

Christa: So much diversity. 

Jackie: And the same issue is so funny because when I say I’ve come to Ghana and they’re like, where in Ghana have you been to? And I’m like Accra like Kumasi. Oh like have you gone farther north because that’s completely different. 

Christa: Exactly. Yeah. The diversity is just out of this world and also, not just in terms of ethnic groups, right? But also in terms of languages. So here we have over 75 languages and dialects spoken. Although, as most of you may be aware, Ghana was colonized by the British, but it was the first country to be free of European role for the African continent, March 6 1957. So while English was sort of imposed on Ghana, and Nigeria, Liberia, etc., these Anglophone countries, and then we have all the Francophone ones that where French was imposed. I mean, look at the diversity of languages and groups of people. Like Accra, it’s like a melting pot. So you have people from all over the country coming to Accra for greener pastures, if you will. Work opportunities also Kumasi and Takoradi, where they’ve found oil with Former President Obama. Which I highly recommend for anyone who wants to come to Ghana. I mean, it is a book written for the diaspora, for sure. And for all people. It’s a beautiful story looking at slavery, what happened, and then our journey to the Americas and what happened to our people. And in this novel, you hear and see, you can visualize the different ethnic groups, the traditions, the customs, and what happened here on the continent. So it’s very, very rich, very rich. 

Jackie: And thank you for giving that book suggestion, I’m gonna put the link in the comments box for those of you guys who are watching this and I’ll try to put it in description in the podcast as well. So I got a few more questions before we wrap up because this has been I mean, I’m sure everyone who’s listened are going to be like gems like Christa is just spitting out gems. But like you’re a mother. 

Christa: Yes, I am. 

Jackie: You have a beautiful daughter. And I know that there are a lot of mothers both like single mothers like myself, or like married mothers like you who are interested in moving to Ghana with their children. 

Christa: Yes. 

Jackie: Is Ghana child friendly? People have so many questions about raising their kids in Ghana. 

Christa: Very much so. Ghanaians love children. And one of the things you have to let go of, and I think in the US we’re very uptight, in particular about this obviously. For obvious reasons, you wouldn’t let a stranger just come up and you know, pick up your child or anything, but here, you got to give that up because like the village is taking on the child, right? The child is being raised by the village by the community, and we have that communal spirit which exists all over the African continent. So I’d say there’s a definite love of children that you can feel in every aspect of society. Also in terms of getting help. I mean, you know, Jackie, I applaud you but I’ve gotten spoiled over here. I’ve been able to have a nanny and almost everyone, it doesn’t even matter. You don’t have to be in a job like mine. It’s affordable to have someone come and help you. It was hard for me when I first came to Ghana, to employ people, I felt like oh, I’m being colonial, I don’t want to ask someone to be washing my thing. I mean, this just doesn’t feel or seem right. Nothing about it seems right. Until I realized that we have a huge informal sector, right in our economy, and that people really need jobs. So you have to look at it differently. So as a result, I have someone who actually lives with us. And she’s a live-in nanny and she is part of our family and she’s helping us all the time so that you also have the opportunity to be able to live a bit of life too. Yes. So you know, and there’s a natural connection. So we have American schools here, right with the American curriculum. We have British curriculum, we have French we have I mean, we have so much. So there are many opportunities. There’s a growing number of parks and recreational activities, not as many as we have in the US. But I always say that my daughter has learned appreciation for nature, going to the beach on weekends going into forest areas, connecting with nature, with people, understanding the importance of slowing down. We often see in the US kids are kind of addicted to what these all the time, not to say that my daughter and children here are not but I mean, it’s a fraction of what you would see in the US because they’re forced to connect with communities and people and they don’t have all these material things around them. And I think you want to make sure that you’re instilling those values early and Ghana is a beautiful place to raise a child. 

Jackie: But I gotta just interject for a second because I got an audience know like, I follow Christa on all her social media and we’ll put a blast again. But like one of the beautiful things about her and her relationship with her daughter is she too was taking her daughter all over the world. Like you’ll just see amazing it’s just like all right, they’re hanging out on South Africa right now like they daughter back to like the US to like experience like she’s taking her daughter to Spelman a couple times, right? 

Christa: Yes, she’s been to Spelman. Just the other day I woke up I don’t know if you saw this post. I posted her in a Spellman t shirt. I woke up, she’s Mommy, close your eyes. Close your eyes. She ran and she says, open your eyes, Spelman! She knows about colleges and institutions in the US. Yes, she’s been able to travel a lot. I was looking at the girl’s passport the other day. And I realized she’s already been to about 10 or more countries. And she’s eight. I said to her, “you have to keep quiet when you’re in the US”, because one time she was around her cousins, and she said something like this. “So Mommy, where are we going next summer? Are we going to Mauritius? Or are we going to go back to India? Or no, no, Mommy, I liked Paris. That was really fun. When we went for the school break”, and I said, “Oh my God, what have I created”? What have we created? But you know, she is growing up in an interconnected world, right? And she goes to an international school where the children these are their experiences. She also has a great breadth of knowledge, obviously about Ghana, which she’s learning about in school and the great contributions of black people to the world. She told me the other day Mommy, “where’s my Black Lives Matters shirt. I want to know. love Black Lives Matters”. I mean, she’s young to understand the concept, but I feel that because she’s in school and she mostly sees children and teachers and principals that look like herself. She’s very confident, very, very confident. She doesn’t have to think about this just yet, because she’s in an African setting. And there’s something to be said for that. So it’s been a great experience. 

Jackie: She also has you as her mother. So let’s not forget that. 

Christa: Oh, wow. I’m looking forward to her and Ruth meeting one day. Those two are going to hit it off. 

Jackie: They are going to be hitting the world. 

Christa: They will be for sure. Yeah. 

Jackie: You know, it’s been just so exciting just listening to you. And I’m sure my audience is connected on multiple, like points that you’ve made. You made it like digestible, right? Like people when they think of moving abroad when they think of what it’s going to be like. Making a career for yourself, making a life for yourself, getting married, like people like it’s not possible for me and I think that’s the beautiful thing about the thing that I enjoy most about doing these vlogs/podcast is that I get to present my audience some amazing women who like I admire and I respect and admire you. 

Christa: We admire you. I hope your audience takes notes with you. You’re doing fantastic things. And I appreciate that you are presenting to your audience, different women that you know, or you’ve encountered down this journey of life, who’ve had somewhat of an impact, and are doing different and unique things in different corners of the world. I think that is just wonderful. And I encourage everyone that living life abroad is a really unique one. It’s very purposeful. We just started developing Black Women Abroad. That is the site. It’s on Facebook, and we found it in the beginning. Yeah, black women abroad. I mean, it’s in its early stages, but we have some big projects that we’re working on. I haven’t even been able to share so much with you, Jackie. But we are and she’s also a great example. Hopefully you can get her. 

Jackie: I would love to get her on, especially with a little wider perspective, because that’s another question people are thinking about. 

Christa: Absolutely. 

Jackie: Thank you so much, Christa. 

Christa: You are welcome. 

Jackie: You have no idea how many people you’re going to be helping with the information that you’ve been provided today. So I thank you for that. You know, for 20 plus years now, you have definitely been a role model for me. You had an impact on my life when I was a teeny weeny young. And I still look at you, I don’t get to talk to you because I’m not in West Africa. So I don’t get to talk to you as much. I still follow you on social and like, every time I see a post, like now she’s doing her 10 days a motherhood post. 

Christa: I know. 

Jackie: So inspiring like, it makes me so happy. And I love the fact that, you know, I named the show Black Women Doing the Most and when I see your posts, I’m like, man, Christa is doing it all. She’s like a very well respected and established professional. Wonderful like, mother. She’s a wonderful wife, but she also has her own life. Like you do trips on your own. You do girlfriend trips, like you just say. 

Christa: Yes, the one Janet and I just did. 

Jackie: Yeah. 

Christa: In Morocco. Yeah. 

Jackie: That is so like inspiring because like you aren’t locking yourself into just one identity. You are… 

Christa: Yes, that’s true. That’s true. And one last thing I would add, we didn’t talk about it. But you know, my passion I think I shared is art and jewelry. And so I have a jewelry line. Now unfortunately, yeah, see, this is one of the pieces right now we have some of the pieces, but um, it’s called the Unknown Collection. I’m currently working on at this stage, that I’ll go back to being able to do that jewelry business a little bit more. So, like you said, there’s so many things that you can do. You’re constantly reinventing yourself. We are all in life reinventing ourselves. And particularly when you are abroad, you have more freedom, I believe, to do that. So I hope to go back to that in the future. 

Jackie: And we hope we can’t wait till your [Inaudible 56:50] because you are like super-duper fly. All right, we out I’m going to stop recording. I’m going to try to network Christa a little bit. And you guys have an amazing day thanks for checking us out. Remember like you are magical and your life should be. Hey black girl Hey yo, good cuz I’m fabulous. I’m a digital nomad and my lifestyle allows my daughter and I do experience in new places, culture, foods and people living abroad and or traveling full time is amazing. It is freedom. I can work from anywhere. I want more black women to experience this same sort of freedom. Help black women manifest their dreams of a life abroad for a full time travel. Are you ready for a life beyond your wildest dreams?

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Hello there!

I’m Jackie O., editor of the  international travel and lifestyle blog, The Jackie O. Life, serial entrepreneur, globetrotting Mama, Black digital nomad and overall badass.

I’m a former attorney, technology executive and model turned digital content provider and travel and lifestyle consultant.  I help Black women live magical lives all over the globe.

I’ve been featured in media outlets such as Travel Noire, American Express Essentials, Gorgeous Globe,  Flourish in the Foreign, Sorella, BizBash and more. Originally from the United States, I currently travel the world full-time with my toddler daughter, Ruth

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Jackie has inspired and educated 1000s Black women to travel full-time and/or move abroad.


The Jackie O. Life


Jackie has inspired and educated 1000s Black women to travel full-time and/or move abroad.
Jackie O. showed me that I could make money AND travel the world full-time.


The Jackie O. Life


Jackie O. showed me that I could make money AND travel the world full-time.
Jackie O. has inspired me to make travel a priority with her proven Jackie O. Method.  She makes moving abroad...


The Jackie O. Life


Jackie O. has inspired me to make travel a priority with her proven Jackie O. Method.  She makes moving abroad accessible to thousands of Black women.
The Jackie O. Life