Rickeyta Usumbura is an African-American from Clarksville in Tennesse. She has been living in The Gambia with her parents since June 2016.
What's On-Gambia: Tell us briefly about yourself.
Rickeyta: My name is Rickeyta Usumbura, I am an African-American who was born and raised in Clarksville, Tennessee. I moved to The Gambia with my family in 2016. I am 19 years old, and I have 7 brothers and sisters. I consider myself a very openminded person, and I LOVE to help those in need.
When and why did you move to The Gambia?
I moved to The Gambia with my family in June 2016. We moved here because of my parents, and I couldn’t be more thankful that they made that decision. They were tired of all the trials and tribulations they continued to face whilst living in America, and they decided it was time to get out!
They always wanted to move back to Africa to connect with their roots, and after a lot of research on countries in Africa, they limited it down to 3 countries: Tanzania, Zimbabwe and The Gambia. They ended up taking a trip to The Gambia initially in 2015, and without even giving Zimbabwe or Tanzania a chance, they knew in their hearts that The Gambia was the one! The following year in 2016, we packed up all we had and moved here, and I feel it was the best decision my parents could have ever made.
What do you remember about your first day in The Gambia?
Culture shock! I felt so anxious wondering what the future could hold for me and my family here. I couldn’t believe how we just got up and left everything we had grown so used to in America. Friends, family, jobs, pets...we left it all behind. At the time, it hurt my 15-year-old self-knowing we would never go back.
I remember staying in my hotel room the entire day, while my family went out to the market. I remember eating leftover gummy worms from the flight, sweating profusely because the electricity was off, and just keeping myself entertained by playing with all the little kittens outside my hotel room. It was a long and hot first day.
What are the three top things you learned during your first months?
The top three things I learned in my first months being here are:
1. There is way more to Africa than what you see in the media.
2. I learned how to be so much more resourceful with the things around me, and working with what I have.
3. I learned to be more grateful for what I have. Because just when you think you got it bad, there’s always someone who has it far worse than you.
Tell us about your YouTube channel?
When you go on YouTube, you don’t see many African-Americans sharing their experience moving to Africa and how it’s been for them living there. I was inspired by my parents’ channel to create my own. If it weren’t for them deciding to even move here, my channel wouldn’t be what it is today. They have a channel as well called Black Acres of The Gambia, or “BAG” for short. They document their life and everything they go through here as entrepreneurs.
Inspired by them, I decided to create my YouTube channel to enlighten those, (especially the youth) that there is so much more to living here than what the media shows you. I wanted to give my perspective as a teen living here because you don’t see many teens here sharing their experiences. Life here is a beautiful thing and I want more people to know about the beauty of living in Africa, by watching my videos.
Why should Gambians subscribe?
I feel Gambians should subscribe to my channel because I believe that my channel has the potential to be a platform to show everyone what The Gambia and its people have to offer. I aim to bring more attraction to this country so that people can see the benefits they would obtain from being here. I feel many parts of the world has a particularly false view about Africa, and I want to use my channel to show how it is, and shine a light on the parts you never get to see.
Are you going to school?
No, I’ve graduated from a school here in The Gambia 2 years ago.
Was it easy making friends and meeting people?
It’s not hard to make friends here. For the most part, everyone is super friendly and super welcoming. It’s just that I was very antisocial at first because I didn’t know anyone or understand the language. I was shy to talk and make friends because I felt my accent sounded so country and weird compared to everyone else’s. I ended up meeting a girl and she helped me come out of my shell and be more social. She even taught me some words in Wolof!
I remember when I joined the talent competition “Rising Stars”. It was so much fun. I loved it because it was such a big step for me stepping out of my comfort zone. I met a lot of talented people there and have made some amazing friends because of it.
What do you enjoy doing in The Gambia when free?
When free, I love going to the beach with friends to watch the sunset! The sunsets here are honestly mesmerizing and always gives me such a warm feeling inside. I love going on adventures, going camping, and exploring new places.
How long do you plan to stay?
I plan to live here for the rest of my life. Without a doubt.
What advice would you give to someone considering to live in The Gambia?
Anyone considering living here, just come! And make sure you come with an open mind!! This country is filled with many different opportunities. Once you come here, you’re not going to want to leave... and if you do leave, you’ll be dying to get back!
What negatives, if any, are there to living in The Gambia?
Despite the power outages (which can be easily fixed with solar panels or generators), I don’t feel like there are many negatives living here..it’s a paradise.
Follow Rickeyta on YouTube (Ricki Denise)