Born in Togo, which borders Ghana to the west, Amuzu’s culture is unlike anything most Americans are accustomed to. French is the country’s official language. The people of this impoverished region are known for their exotic living. Voodoo is the no. 1 religion, followed by Christianity and Islam. Polygamy is also practiced.
The elite among the classes and castes of Togo includes kings, chiefs and vodou (voodoo) priests. Raised in a society where women and men are kept apart in most social gatherings, and where women usually eat after men but before children, Amuzu was a typical Togolese, but well respected for being of Togo royalty. His uncle is chief in one of the villages.
Few, if any, knew that Amuzu and Deborah, who is also Togolese, had eyes for each other as teenagers studying the Bible with their families. At Christian meetings, he kept his eyes on Deborah who was two years his junior. Amuzu said he was always helping her family with chores but they never suspected the two were interested in each other.
Both lived in Lomé, the capital of Togo, with a population nearing 900,000. Both were of royal descent, although they did not visit the villages where their relatives were respected chiefs. And both shared dreams of coming to America to start a new life in the land of opportunity.
Amuzu, who speakes French, English and Ewe — a Niger-Congo language spoken in Ghana, said, “In our culture they teach us about America — the customs, how people act, the economy — everything. We see how the country is by watching movies. They say it is the most powerful country in the world. So we dream to discover America.”
Because education in Togo is compulsory for six years, both Amuzu and Deborah were expected to excel in school and help their families. Since they could not afford to marry and start a family at their age, they respectfully kept their distance and their feelings to themselves.
In the meantime, each would go out with their family in their ministry to spread the good news about Jesus Christ and God’s kingdom to their neighbors, many of whom practiced voodoo.
According to Amuzu, he was able to help several of his countrymen break free from voodoo, witchcraft, ancestor worship and other pagan practices, and “come to know the true God and be baptized.”
Togo has one university, located in Lomé, which offers first and second level degrees in medicine, law, the arts and sciences. Amuzu chose medicine and was allowed to practice obstetrics and gynecology while in his third year of college as an intern in a south regional hospital. He completed his studies and received his Ph.D. in 2009.
Deborah, on the other hand, was able to follow her dreams to the United States years earlier. She lived and worked in Florida, then Iowa, Missouri and just recently in Tennessee, thanks to a job offer in a bi-lingual capacity at Cleveland’s Whirlpool plant. She have lived in America since 2002.
Through it all, the couple stayed in close contact — she, returning to Togo to visit Amuzu and her family whenever possible. He, keeping her close to his heart every day as he worked to secure their future. Now that they were in a position to marry, wedding plans were made.
In Togo, however, a prospective husband must provide a substantial sum of money and/or highly valued goods to his future wife’s family before a marriage can be contracted. In French this is called a “lot” or bride price. Amuzu met his fiancée and family’s request and the two were married on Jan. 14, 2010.
Since his wife has been in America for 10 years, Amuzu was eventually allowed a marriage visa to the States, along with a work visa. But work has not come easy for the Togolese OB/GYN.
“I would like to find work in the medical field, but I would also like to start working wherever I can,” said Amuzu, who arrived in America on January 27, 2012. “I was active all the time before I came here. Now I have no work. If only someone could give me a job. I would be very, very happy. My life is out of balance now. I wait for this balance in my life.
“My wife is doing everything and I do not want that kind of life. I want to work and support my wife and help my family in Togo just a little bit. It is stressful doing nothing.”
Although Amuzu said he is “very, very happy and excited” to be with his wife in America, he also admits that having a job would make him feel even better, because whether a person lives in West Africa or in America, working for a living is very much a part of the American Dream and what makes dreams come true.