But that is exactly what happened to Dryden Wilson Tate Brown, who left the United States (US) with a dream of building a city in West Africa.
In a Twitter thread, he narrated how he left New York City to Africa with virtually no connections but ended up meeting Ghana’s Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
Brown said after completing school, he and his close friend, Charlie Callinan wanted “to do something heroic” by helping to build new cities.
“We saw the opportunity cost of living in SF & NYC falling due to a loss of community, poor city management, broken infrastructure, and the rise of the cloud labor market,” one of his tweets read.
Between April and July last year, he said they “read every book we could find on ancient, modern, and future cities” and subsequently had meetings with “the top master planned community developers.”
They both decided that Nigeria was the best market to try out their new city project, despite the fact that similar projects were already ongoing in the oil-producing country.
Brown, however, conceded that they were broke and didn’t even have enough money to finance their trip to Nigeria.
Explaining how they finally made the trip, he said: “That weekend, Charlie won $2,000 at a golf tournament, taking our bank balance to $2,047. A few days later, @CCI gave us a small grant, so we bought tickets to Nigeria.”
According to him, they made several connections and networks in Nigeria, including being introduced to some government officials.
However, talks over the city project did not advance, leading to them setting their sights on Ghana after meeting a friend who had friends in the Ghanaian government.
“With our last thousand dollars, I flew to Ghana for a meeting with a friend of a friend of a person I’d met once over cocktails,” he narrated.
“When I landed in Ghana, I met Alex’s connection’s friends: Ed and Joyce. They did in fact work for Ghana, and are both brilliant. Ed, Joyce, and I drove around Ghana, touring sites and pitching their colleagues in government on the concept of building a charter city.
“The trip yielded two interesting new city opportunities, so I flew home extremely energized and ready to dig in further.”
Brown said he returned to the US and “bounced around coffee shops and hotel lobbies (for free wifi) trying to figure out how to make our dream of city-building into a reality.”
Having made acquaintances with some people in Ghana, he returned in September to try and meet government officials about his city project.
“In early September we spec’d out an initial plan for building and financing a new city in West Africa. We needed to get back ASAP to meet with governments, but we were out of money again.”
After arriving in Ghana, he said they were offered an appointment with the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, but the meeting was later cancelled.
“We landed in Accra a few days before the meeting. The day of, he cancelled,” he revealed.
However, just as they were wandering around Accra after their meeting with the Finance Minister was cancelled, he said he received a call that pitched them a meeting with the Vice President.
Brown said the caller told him: “Be in front of the Parliament building in 20 minutes. You are meeting with the Vice President.”
True to the caller’s words, he said they got to the Parliament building and were picked by a presidential motorcade to the Jubilee House, where they met Vice President, Dr. Bawumia.
“We got picked up by the Presidential Motorcade, and sped to the Jubilee House (Ghana’s White House), swerving around cars that were slow to get out of our way,” he recounted.
“When we got out of the sedan, we were still processing what had just happened and what was to come.
“The Secret Service brought us into the building, and we waited in a clean, white room. Eventually, we were brought up to Vice President Bawumia’s office,” Brown added.
His story deserves a big, puzzling 'wow'!