ROOTS

Colin Kaepernick’s fight for racial justice in the US has brought him to Africa

Quartz africa
Quartz africa

American football player Colin Kaepernick spent his Fourth of July holiday celebrating finding his “personal independence” in Ghana

The NFL quarterback has been in the news for much of the past year since protesting police killings of unarmed black people in the US by kneeling while the American national anthem was played at NFL games.

To celebrate July 4th this year, the US Independence Day, Kaepernick, now a free-agent, posted a video of a recent trip to Ghana on his social media accounts. “In a quest to find my personal independence, I had to find out where my ancestors came from,” Kaepernick wrote in an Instagram post. While in Ghana, Kaepernick visited prominent slave monuments including the Cape Coast castle, a major part of trans-Atlantic slave trade initially built in the 1600s and was seen clad in Kente, a popular local fabric.

"What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence?" – Frederick Douglass. In a quest to find my personal independence, I had to find out where my ancestors came from. I set out tracing my African ancestral roots, and it lead me to Ghana. Upon finding out this information, I wanted to visit the sites responsible for myself (and many other Black folks in the African Diaspora) for being forced into the hells of the middle passage. I wanted to see a fraction of what they saw before reaching the point of no return. I spent time with the/my Ghanaian people, from visiting the local hospital in Keta and the village of Atito, to eating banku in the homes of local friends, and paying my respects to Kwame Nkrumah's Memorial Park. I felt their love, and truly I hope that they felt mine in return.

A post shared by colin kaepernick (@kaepernick7) on

While Kaepernick’s increasingly vocal protests about racial inequalities in the US have won him some plaudits, his public stance on social causes are believed to have damaged his NFL career. After playing for six years with the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick opted out of the final year of his contract in March.

But without a club since, Kaepernick is believed to have been “blackballed” by NFL bosses mainly for his personal views despite his ranking as the 17th best quarterback in the 32-team league.

Sign up for the Quartz Africa Weekly Brief — the most important and interesting news from across the continent, in your inbox.

home our picks popular latest obsessions search