Alfred Sam – First African To Send A Ship To United States Of America To Voyage Blacks Back To Africa

A Ghanaian merchant, Chief Alfred Charles Sam was born in 1880, in Appasu, West Akim District of the then Gold Coast (Ghana). He attended a missionary school in Kyebi, Eastern Ghana.

Alfred Sam traded rubber, cocoa, coffee, mahogany and other good. He exported most of his goods in America and Europe and was the owner of Akim Trading Company.

Chief Sam in 1913 correlated with Nigerian Herbert Macaulay who was famously known as the Nigerian Father of Nationalism. He travelled to America, where he started organizing meetings, he convinced the Black prospects to buy a stock worth $25 from his Company. He compelled them to sell their possessions before sailing to Africa.

His proposals were seen as a ploy to milk money, so he was labelled a fraudster by the government of the United States, Black business people and Black American newspapers criticized the idea. Alfred Sam was investigated, but no criminal charges were found. Still, Alfred Sam defended that he intended to establish and boost inter-trade between Africa and America through coffee, cocoa, and mahogany business. He gained the support of African Pioneer, a newspaper that covers the Back-to-Africa Movement – a movement founded in the 19th century, in the U.S., intending to encourage the Blacks to return to Africa and feel their mother soil. They questioned the conversion from their traditional belief to Christianity and the colonies in some African countries.

San travelled to New York to buy a ship. At the same time, 600 African Americans waited for him to return A year later, on the 20th of August 1914, 60 men and women voyaged to Africa with S.S. Liberia from Oklahoma, name Alfred gave the ship, while over 500 waited behind.

They left with flour, lime, lumber, cement, farming tools, and household equipment to start up a new settlement. The ship first arrived in Bathurst (Banjul) in Gambia, and in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in December 1914 for the British government to verify the ownership of the ship. They finally arrived Saltpond, in January 1915.

After they settled in Akim, they faced official restrictions; lands were not given to them, so they felt misled upon running out of materials, other financial and physical issues, and sickness that killed few. Few returned to the U.S.A while some relocated to Liberia and other neighbouring countries.

Alfred Sam on September 1915 sent the second batch to Ghana, but it still failed with the settlers losing their savings and valuables. The Company folded, and Sam sold his ship and abandoned the investors who were waiting for their voyage to Africa.

He returned to North America where he continued his trading career. He spent the rest of his life there till his death in the 1930s.