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Three years ago, I was contacted by a headhunter who made me an offer for me to leave my consulting job in France to become the country manager of an ecommerce venture in Cameroon. To celebrate this symbolic anniversary of my professional life I have decided to share the lessons I learned as a returnee/repatriate/repat to sub-Saharan Africa. Why only now, three years after? Because in the meantime I was too busy to have a broader perspective on my own experience. I also am also preparing a significant transition, it was thus the perfect timing to take a step back and share with you what I have learned during that pivotal moment of my personal and professional life, and hopefully help you in your journey back to the Motherland.
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If it’s your first time here, allow me to briefly introduce myself. My name is Candace Nkoth, and I specifically wanted to share my experience with ambitious African women living abroad, looking for their purpose and thinking about moving (back) to Africa. Many of you have contacted me in the past years via my LinkedIn profile and Facebook page to know more about my career and my choice to move back to Cameroon. I really hope you will find here some answers to your questions, and that you have fun in the process. And if you feel that you need more personalized advice for your repatriation project or for your career in general, please do not hesitate to reach out, we can work together!
Kind disclaimer: my perspective on this topic is inherently subjective, as it is the result of my personal experience in sub-Saharan Africa. If it doesn’t fit your views on the topic do not take it personally, but feel free to share your own experience in the comment section!
Lesson 1: Be clear about what your purpose & career goals are
Multifunctional center of Bepanda for vulnerable citizens
Before event thinking about applying for a job in Africa, it might be critical for you to do some serious soul searching to identify what you are really meant to do with your life. From that purpose, you will be able to define a relevant future career goal or business idea. Once you have a clear vision of what that goal is, moving back to Africa will, therefore, be a way (among others) to fulfill your destiny, and not only a way to escape a stressful reality. How do I know that? Because I have been in the same situation several times.
Click here before the 1st of July to receive the juicy details of how I realized what my purpose was.
Back to your purpose. Taking the time to discover it should be your first step, before even applying for a job. If you don’t know how to proceed, seek support to figure it out. Knowing your purpose will help you to identify the next best career opportunities for you. The certainty of knowing what you are meant to do will be your inner GPS when you feel confused, your source of motivation and resilience when life will knock you down, and the reason why you will eventually shine in whatever you decide to do.
Lesson 2: Do not give into pressure
Suresnes – France
There are probably many reasons why you may feel the urge to move back to Africa.
- “Moving to Africa back will save me.” You might be struggling to find a job, or you are sick of your current one. You are tired of the Western lifestyle, culture, discriminations, food, cost of living, weather you name it. Life in the abroad e no easy!
- “Many of my friends/ contacts are moving to Africa”. What am I still doing here?
- “My parents would like me to move back to Africa.” Parents genuinely want the best for us.
- “My partner wants us to move back to Africa.” And having a stable relationship is worth some sacrifices.
- “People who moved to Africa seem more fulfilled than I am.” I mean if you visit Instagram accounts such as @visiterlafrique or @spiritedpursuit, or simply if you follow my work on my Facebook feed, there are great reasons to feel a major FOMO.
- “Now or never is the time to move back to Africa.” The clock is ticking, and good opportunities will not be there forever!
Now let’s play a fun game. In this paragraph, imagine replacing ”move back to Africa” by “get married.” Pretty revealing, right? How does it feel? Perhaps not so right after all.
So, forget about the peer/time/family/social media pressure, and refer to paragraph 1 (i.e. purpose). Having a purpose will avoid you to make decisions that are not authentically yours. It will make any comparison with others seem irrelevant, and as an adult, you will also consider stopping having your parents as managers and rather having them as consultants. You may listen to them but still, make your own decisions. And yes, also forget about the social media fancy posts. I have personally never posted about the occasional 24h of non-stop work, or about all the times I felt so miserable or outraged that I wanted to take a one-way ticket to Paris. Your life deserves better than using Africa as an escape to your western misery. If you can, fix your problems, find your purpose, and then later bring the very best version of yourself to Africa
Eko-Nkam falls, Cameroon
And that’s it for today! Which advice resonated the most with you? Let me know in the comment or by message if there is a topic that you would want me to address specifically further in the following blog post.
In the next episode, we will talk about health and personal relationship (meaning your love life or lack thereof) and their relationship to your move back to your homeland. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to be notified when it will be issued. You are going to love it!
Stay tuned, and please share this with you female friends, colleagues or relatives who moved back to Africa, those who plan to move back or any other one who you think might be interested.
See you soon,