“I’m proud that I, Nana Yaa Henrietta Okora coming from nowhere in Ghana, have a job that I employ even the American people to work for me.” – CEO of A& H African and Jamaican Restaurant, New Jersey, United States.
Madam Nana Yaa recalls when she relocated to the United States in 2000. She recounted that when her Grandfather and mother picked her up from the airport, she thought she would not walk on sand but sky in America.
“My grandpa told my mom, ‘ask your daughter and son if they picked any money from the floor. When you people were in Ghana, you thought they were dollars on the floor for picking.”
She narrated that settling into her new home was not easy. Before choosing to open a restaurant, Nana Yaa worked at a tripe store, a military clothing supply factory and a nursing home. She tells how these experiences shaped her perceptions, especially about diseases like Dementia and Alzheimers, that is said to be witchcraft in Africa.
Nana Yaa explained, “Those times I was working there, the minimum wage was like 11 dollars per hour, and I work a minimum of 40 hours a week. It was not that easy. A lot of stuff happened, so I decided I don’t want to work for anybody. I noticed that we didn’t have any African Restaurant in my area. So I decided to open an African Restaurant and see how it goes.”
A&H African and Jamaican Restaurant sells food indigenous to Africa and the Caribbean, including their best sellers, banku, fufu, omotuo (riceballs), oxtail and jerk chicken.
“America has more opportunities than Ghana. Over here, when you work, you are going to make it,” Nana Yaa continued. “I don’t think you can be here in America to be lazy. If you are lazy in America, you will go home with nothing.”
Watch the full interview below: