One hundred and twenty-six descendants of enslaved Africans received a belated welcome reception recently in Ghana when the president conferred them citizens of their ancestral African home.
Many of them had adopted the homeland for many years and only last month were celebrated, regaled and regally greeted by Ghana-born nationals who declared 2019 the Year of Return to all Africans from the diaspora.
The “Year of Return” is a major landmark marketing campaign targeting the African-American and Caribbean market to mark 400 years of the first enslaved African arriving in the West.
During a ceremony at Jubilee House in Accra — the nation’s capital — President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo officially declared the individuals worthy of Ghanaian citizenship.
Speaking after the conferment ceremony recently, he said, “I am glad you have decided to make Ghana your home, and thereby, join several generations of Diasporans who committed their lives to us.”
He added that Trinidad and Tobago journalist, George Padmore, Jamaican singer and entrepreneur, Rita Marley and America-born historian, sociologist, author and editor, W.E.B. DuBois were a few of the Diasporans who boldly accepted citizenship in Ghana.
Regarded to being the gateway to slavery, Ghana formerly known as the gold coast housed more than 72 slave dungeons of which 37 still stands as a reminder to the atrocities committed and the edifice marked by a door promising “no return.”
Since the abolition of slavery, thousands of descendants have defied the ominous marker to walk back in freedom.
In 2000, the west African country became the only country in the 21st century to offer resettlement possibilities to Africans throughout the world.
Its Right to Abode law permitted diasporans to apply and ultimately granted indefinite stay.
In addition, a relaxed visa enactment also invited willing repatriates.
By 2014, approximately 3,000 Africans from foreign lands repatriated there.
In 2016 alone 34 Caribbean nationals of African descent reportedly chose to reside in Ghana and were granted citizenships.
In order to qualify one must reside there for five years and after agreeing to the oath of acceptance must learn one of the many indigenous languages as a way of “reintegration” and reclaim the heritage denied by the slave trade.
Annually, emigration figures have escalated with diasporans settling in Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast and in many of the lesser known provinces Marcus Mosiah Garvey envisioned to be the flagship destination for all displaced Africans.
Throughout his storied Pan-African activism the Jamaican native adopted the African banner naming his newspaper The Black Star, his ship The Black Star Liner and often identifying with the first English-speaking African nation to demand independence from Britain.
Soon after the historic 1957 statement to the world, Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah invited all Africans to live in his freed nation. From then on, descendants of the slave trade have been choosing Ghana as the preferred home to repatriate from the West.
The thrust to implement a Year of the Return was instituted the “Joseph Project” with an “aim to reconcile and unite the African peoples, on the continent and in the Diaspora, and to release their energies to help build Africa and the Caribbean.”
Expectations are high that one million new citizens — from the United States and the Caribbean where 400 years ago slave ships transported their ancestors through the Middle Passages to be sold into servitude as property to the highest bidders — will be officially welcomed with the word Akwaba!
“You have the responsibility of preserving and promoting the image of a country whose reputation, amongst the comity of nations, is, today, high. You are citizens of a country that is regarded as one of the most stable on the continent, a beacon of democracy, governed by the rule of law and respect for individual liberties, human rights and the principles of democratic accountability, as a result of the commendable acts and deeds of past and present generations of your fellow Ghanaians.”
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