Where’s the grass greener? – Oxford University’s Africa Conference 2017

Homecoming Revolution hosted the “Returning Home” Panel at the Oxford Africa Conference this month, where stories were shared of those who had returned and those who were still contemplating it.

The room was packed with top African professionals who had many questions like, where the grass was greener, when the best time to return was, and how to integrate back into the community.

Eddie Ndopu, an internationally recognized South African human rights advocate, said he has a complicated affection for the concept of home. “My concept of home is messy. It’s not clearly defined. I honestly don’t know if I’ll return or not.” Eddie said that home is something we carve out. “For me, it’s never a destination, it’s a process. I don’t embrace the idea of ‘going back’’. For me, home should feel like I’m going forward.”

Yasmin Kumi, a Ghanaian homecomer, said once you have made the decision to return you cannot compare the two destinations. “If you make the comparison between here and there – then you end up denouncing the one place. It’s not helpful.”

A key insight was that the grass was greener because of the ‘’manure’’ i.e. Africa’s challenges. These challenges are a key driver for people coming home as they are motivated to be part of finding solutions. The idea of having a career with impact was highly desirable.

Homecoming Revolution CEO Angel Jones said an African homecomer possesses a unique combination of tenacity, international expertise and local community.

She said returning home is a heart decision not a head decision.

“Trust your gut, follow your heart home. Even if you’re not yet ready to return, start building strong relationships with your home community.”

She also encouraged the audience to get at least two years global working experience under their belts because it makes you so much more marketable.

It was great to see Africans talking with one voice and there was a real feeling amongst attendees that there is a huge sense of identity around being African.

Comments Angel, “It’s definitely the same things pulling people home:  Friends & Family; Feeling of Belonging; Weather & Lifestyle and Making an Impact.

A few members of the audience shared their feedback afterwards:

“Your panel highly motivated my incentive to go back home with a humble mind-set,” Emmanuel.

“Your presence and influence was felt not only in your excellently moderated panel, but also in the discussion points that you raised in some of the other sessions. Your optimism for Africa and its future and your genuine passion for what you do is very inspiring. It is your kind of leadership and initiative that we cherish,” Biruk Terrefe Co-Chair Oxford Africa Conference.

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