Ghana honors her-story and his – 2 survivors of Tulsa Massacre

Ghanaian Pres. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo addressing the United Nations General Assembly's 73rd session, New York City, Sept. 26, 2018.
Ghanaian Pres. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo addressing the United Nations General Assembly’s 73rd session, New York City, Sept. 26, 2018.
Cia Pak/UN Photo

One hundred and eight-year-old Viola Fletcher made the history books – again – by becoming an honorary citizens of the Republic of Ghana.

During a ceremony at the Ghana Embassy in Washington D.C. Fletcher and her brother Hughes Van Ellis, 102 swore allegiance to the African black star state and in the process achieved dual citizenship.

Ironically it was Feb. 28, the last day of Black History Month and the eve of Women’s History Month when the pair of siblings vowed loyalty to the African nation.

“I’m so grateful to all,” Mother Fletcher said. “I thank you so much for this honor.”

The centenarian had been given the name Queen Mother Naa Lameley when she visited the former Gold Coast during their much celebrated ‘Year of Return’ in 2021 which commemorated 400 years since the beginning of the slave trade.

Throughout a century Fletcher yearned to visit the continent of Africa. On the 100-year anniversary of the American travesty the survivor realized the dream.

“This country is your country and anyone who wants to reestablish, connect with us here is welcome,” President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said in a statement to diasporans.

About the Oklahomans he told reporters “They lived to tell the story.”

Their harrowing story was retold there and they were regaled in ceremonial tradition befitting royalty.

As a matter of fact, they were enstooled, given African names and gifted a plot of land.

“I feel like a king.” Ellis reportedly said.

In acceptance of the honorary citizenship Fletcher said: ‘I swear solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will faithfully bear true allegiance to the Republic of Ghana.”

With that the Oklahoma-born, U.S. citizen was declared 100 percent Ghanaian.

She was accompanied by her grandson Ike Howard who along with well-wishers heard her commit to “preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the Republic of Ghana, so help me God.”

History has recorded that the pair represent the last survivors of the Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma Massacre which occurred May 31, 1921 when racist white supremacists attacked the Black business community they resided.

More than 300 Black people were slaughtered there and 35-square block area of the prosperous community was destroyed.

Fletcher and her brother were children when white mobs stormed the town, burning and looting everything in their path.

The memory of their experience is still seared in their brains.

Ghanaian reggae singer Rocky Dawuni was among the select guests invited to witness the historic ceremony.

He posted a photo of himself with the celebrated pair on social media saying “it was a historic experience for me to spend the day with mother Fletcher and Chief Red on this amazing day of significance for all Black people home and abroad.”

The ferocious reggae recorder is probably best known for purchasing the Bob Marley Recording Studios, which Rita Marley built in the Village of Konkururu. Acquired after the widow returned stateside due to health hazards, the structure now stands as a legacy Marley managed while supporting the village of Fete Kekabre by providing supplies to a basic school and hospital as well as securing radio station Vibes FM to villagers.

Dawuni seemed elated by the ceremonious tribute.

“A new chapter is being written for a new Africa and this is the generation with the spiritual mandate to manifest the unification of all our people towards Africa,” he said.

Therefore, his presence at the historic ceremony which was first implemented when Marley, the Queen of Reggae was bestowed the first to be honored in 2013 — must have seemed an enviable realization.

At that Emancipation Day tribute Marley was given the name Nana Afua Addobea.

Erieka Bennett, founder and head of the mission of the Diasporan African Forum was integral to enabling Marley’s honor and was no less vocal this time when she addressed the capital city audience saying: “you are not an African because you were born in Africa. You are an African when Africa is born in you.”

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