For Will Sostand, a long-time Chicago native, the decision to move to Africa came down to a single question.
“I was thinking one day, ‘Where can I live or where could I go where racism won’t hit me in the face as a Black man?’” he said. “I was sitting there like, ‘duh, Africa.’”
That question led him to take a solo trip to Ghana in 2019 that would ultimately change the trajectory of his and his family’s lives. They ultimately relocated to Kigali, Rwanda this summer and joined a growing contingent of African-Americans moving to Africa. The common thread through many of their stories – stories like Sostand’s – is the desire for a more welcoming and tolerant environment.
“You know how it is when you walk around in the states,” Sostand observed. “You walk in the grocery store or you walk (around in certain environments) like ‘I’m the only Black man’. We have that tension on our necks as Black men in the states.”
“When I went to Ghana, all of that was gone,” he said.
Sostand recently met with Black Men’s Health to discuss his life, before and after relocating to the central African country. He also provided valuable advice and information for anyone interested in moving to the continent themselves.
At the time of the interview, Sostand and his family had lived in Rwanda for three months. Yet, in that short period, he has already experienced at least one profound effect.
“It has been a great thing for my health,” he said, adding that he has lost 18 pounds since moving there. The fresh foods from the local markets are the primary reason.
But he also added this: “I don’t have all the stress of being a Black man in the states.”
Click the video below to watch the rest of Sostand’s inspiring story!
1:03 – Introduction of guest Will Sostand.
2:48 – The most interesting thing he’s witnessed since moving to Kigali, Rwanda.
His Early Life in Chicago
5:32 – Sostand on what it was like growing up on the Southside of Chicago and his early influences.
6:40 – How Hip-hop and art influenced him as a high schooler in the early 1990s.
7:31 – Sostand on how Hip-hop saved his life.
9:09 – Hip-hop’s role in forming his political awareness.
11:51 – The pivotal role his high school teacher played in getting him to college.
16:16 – What it was like going from an art college to working at a bank.
From First Impressions to His First Visit to Africa
18:29 – His first impressions of Africa as a youth.
20:07 – Sostand on when he began to think about visiting the continent.
21:21 – His first trip to Ghana.
23:48 – Sostand speaks about bringing his family to Ghana after that first trip.
24:53 – What it was like for his children when they visited Ghana.
26:16 – The challenges and processes of moving to an entirely new continent.
27:37 – How he and his family decided to move to Kigali and how his wife influenced that decision.
29:02 – The visit that made them settle in Rwanda instead of Ghana.
31:37 – Sostand on the beauty, culture and features of Kigali that people may not know about.
35:24 – The activities that he and his family have taken part in since moving to Kigali.
38:09 – The food in Kigali and the similarities to African-American cooking.
39:29 – Sostand on the freshness of the food in Kigali.
42:03 – What he misses about the states.
Advice for those who want to move to Africa
43:52 – Sostand shares advice for African-Americans who want to move to Africa.
47:41 – His views on the job market for expats in countries like Ghana and Kigali.
48:09 – Sostand on why having a skillset will serve you well should you relocate.
48:40 – The benefit of working remotely or starting a business with your skillset.
49:59 – The resources he recommends for people who want to move to an African country.
50:50 – The one hiccup he experienced when he and his family moved.
53:12 – Sostand on what you shouldn’t do as an American moving to Africa.
How The Move Has Changed His Life
54:54 – How the move to Rwanda has already benefited his health.
56:21 – How to get in touch with Sostand and Illform, his screen printing business.