When talking to Bryan Hooper, he confesses that his life looks very much like a movie or at the very least a rap track. As a teen, he started from the bottom selling weed in the suburbs of Minnesota and now he’s building a dream home in West Africa.
This 28-year-old doesn’t mince words when it comes to his past, in fact he claims the power of it, and how it helped him to become the man that he is today, a dean with the Minneapolis public school system, and property owner in Ghana.
The recently appointed high school dean sold a lot of weed from the age 14 to 22. “I was smart about it,” he said, “I used it to pay for college, but I got a weed felony, and I was trying hard not to be another statistic. I was halfway in the street, and halfway in the books.” Currently, Hooper holds both a bachelor and a master’s degree.
But it was a series of deaths and the frustration with “crooked cops” that motivated him to make a positive move. He lost his grandmother, an aunt, witnessed the killing of a friend, as well as the death of his best friend (Adano Ali), who Hooper named his YouTube channel after. Ali died in his sleep after a head injury stemming from a street fight.
“I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve been to the flashy parties. I’ve been with the pretty girls. At the end of the day, it’s about what do you want. I want to live in peace,” said Hooper who’s legally licensed to carry a firearm.
Just as he moved fast in the streets, he’s making his move to Africa swift as well. In July 2018, after a trip to Jamaica, he started having thoughts about Africa, and came into connection with several YouTube vloggers, who were chronicling their travels to the continent. “Something was calling me, and they (the vloggers) were talking that knowledge I wanted to hear.” One person put him in connection with another person which lead to another person who was also building a home in Ghana, except, this person happened to live just 15 minutes away from Hooper’s U.S. home in Minnesota.
Was it luck, or was it Africa really calling him home? Just a few months later he was on a plane headed to the mother continent in search of land. One of his U.S. connections put him in touch with a scout on the ground in Africa who helped the educator pinpoint several locations. Hooper was specifically interested in looking at areas where other African-Americans had built homes. About 7,000 Black Americans call the country home. He settled on three plots of land in the village of Senya Beraku. “I knew it was the place I wanted to be, and when you connected with the right people, things move fast.” About 15-20 Black Americans have homes in the area where he’s building.
He placed a down payment on the land in August 2018, and issued the remaining balance in Oct. 2018. The lots cost him $2,500 each, and he anticipates building a 3-bed, 2 and half-bath home that will cost about $50,000, and take about 2 years to complete. He plans to live in the home with his mother. For those interested in moving faster, it’s possible, he said. But it’s all about the cash. You have to have funds on hand as most people build in phases because home financing in Africa is virtually non-existent. People pay as they build, but this process provides an individual with a mortgage-free home, which is rare in America.
This property owner is currently helping other African-American families locate land in the country, and after he blesses these people, he may help others. It’s about “paying it forward,” he said, just as people “paid it forward” with him.
For more information about Hooper’s journey, check out his YouTube channel at Adano Ali.