After visiting the United States in 1913, gold coast merchant and Chief Alfred Sam set out on a mission to return African-Americans to their ancestral homeland. He persuaded African Americans saying that there were “diamonds laying on the ground after a rain, trees that produced bread, and sugar cane as large as stovepipes” on the property.
His goal was to persuade African-Americans to invest in his company while also rejecting the colonizers and “living a life of independence.”
Alfred Charles Sam was born in 1880 on the Gold Coast, in what is now Ghana. He was born in Appasu, in the West Akim District, to be precise. He traded rubber and other things before becoming involved in the Back-to-Africa movement. He stated that his uncle bestowed the title of Chief upon him in recognition of his travels to either the United States or the United Kingdom.
Sam attended a mission school in Kyebi, Ghana’s eastern region.
Sam began corresponding with Herbert Macaulay, dubbed the “Father of Nigerian Nationalism,” in 1913. Sam then traveled to the United States and began organizing meetings in Oklahoma and across the country in an attempt to persuade African-Americans to invest $25 in his company, Akim Trading Company.
Sam was accused of being a fraudster and later cleared by the United States government of attempting to defraud people. Instead, he said that his goal was to increase trade between Africa and America by exchanging cocoa, coffee, and mahogany.
African Pioneer, a publication dedicated to covering the Back-to-Africa movement, aided Sam.
The Back-to-Africa movement, also known as the Colonization movement or the After Slave Act, began in the United States in the nineteenth century. The goal of the movement was to encourage people of African heritage to return to their homeland. The movement sparked the formulation of the American Colonization Society, sparked religious movements such as African-Americans questioning their conversion to Christianity and founding colonies in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
On the Curityba, a former German ship, 500 Americans were preparing to leave to America in 1914. The ship was christened the S.S. Liberia, and they all met up in Galveston, Texas.
The first group of 60 trained men and women set sail with Sam in August 1914. The group brought along agricultural tools, cement, flour, lime, lumber, and household goods in hopes of establishing a settlement. In December 1914, they arrived in Bathurst, now Banjul, Gambia, and Freetown, Sierra Leone. They halted in Freetown due to the length of time it took the British government to verify the owner of the ship.
In January 1915, they arrived at Saltpond, their final destination.
The settlers arrived full of optimism and were greeted warmly at first. Local elders in Akim eventually barred them from owning land. Other challenges like official constraints, material shortages, and malaria dampened their spirits. Some experienced financial and physical problems and others felt misled by Sam’s promises and were disheartened.
Some eventually moved to Liberia and the surrounding territories, while others returned to Oklahoma.
Sam attempted to bring a second party to Ghana in September 1915. Nonetheless, his company collapsed with many of the future settlers losing their valuable possessions and savings.
Sam went on to sell the S.S. Liberia and work as a merchant.
On how and where Sam spent his final days, sources differ. He may have relocated to the United States or Liberia, according to reports.
Sam passed away in the 1930s.