The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Wednesday, 27th November 2019, conferred Ghanaian citizenship on 126 Diasporans, who have lived in Ghana for many years.
Speaking after the conferment ceremony, President Akufo-Addo stated that “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 noted that several persons, including the likes of George Padmore, Bob Marley’s widow, Rita, Maya Angelou, and W.E.B du Bois all found homes in Ghana, with the latter buried in the country.
With the ceremony being part of the series of activities commemorating the ‘Year of Return’, the President stated that Ghana recognizes her position as the location for 75 per cent of the slave dungeons built on the West coast of Africa, through which the slaves were transported.
“That is why we had a responsibility to extend a hand of welcome back home to Africans in the diaspora. Many have responded to this call, and the ‘Year of Return’ has so far proven to be a joyful and learning experience all round for all of us,” he said.
To the 126 Diasporans, the President urged them to respect and abide by the laws of Ghana and live in accordance with the tenets of Ghana’s Constitution.
“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,” he said.
The President continued, “In all your actions, I urge you to guard jealously our country’s image. It is a charge, I am confident, you will uphold. In doing so, I suggest that to facilitate the process of re-integration, you learn at least one Ghanaian language of your choice – Akan, Ewe, Ga, Dagbani, Hausa, or Nzema, amongst others.”
President Akufo-Addo urged them also to be engaged fully in the realization of the vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid.
“Simply put, I just want us to be self-confident, and accept that we shall never reach the level of development we aspire to by relying on aid or external assistance, no matter how generous. It is a mindset that I wish us to discard, a mindset of dependency and living on handouts,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo, in concluding, paid tribute to the late Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, Jake to others, who, as Minister for Tourism and Diasporan Relations under the Government of the 2nd President of the 4th Republic, the outstanding Ghanaian statesman, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, championed the cause for the return of descendants of the slave trade to their homes of origin.
“He instituted the “Joseph Project”, whose aim was 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. This ceremony would be a happy moment for him,” he added.
France24 has in a report looked at how Ghana is increasingly becoming home to hundreds of African-Americans especially in light of the on-going ‘Year of Return, Ghana 2019’ campaign. The report looks at the lives of some African-Americans who have settled in Ghans over the years. Read and watch the report below.
Ghana was one of the main West African departure points for the transatlantic slave trade. Today, the government has launched a campaign to reach out to the descendants of those Africans who were forcibly removed from their homelands. It has dubbed 2019 the “year of return“. Several hundred people have already put down roots in Ghana, many of them African-Americans. Our colleagues from France 2 report, with FRANCE 24‘s James Vasina.
This article comes on the heels of other reviews published earlier in the year.
Watch the programme/video report prepared by Patrick Lovett and James Vasina below.
The “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” is a major landmark spiritual and birth-right journey inviting the Global African family, home and abroad, to mark 400 years of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Jamestown, Virginia. The arrival of enslaved Africans marked a sordid and sad period, when our kith and kin were forcefully taken away from Africa into years of deprivation, humiliation and torture. While August 2019 marks 400 years since enslaved Africans arrived in the United States, “The Year of Return, Ghana 2019” celebrates the cumulative resilience of all the victims of the Trans Atlantic slave Trade who were scattered and displaced through the world in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.
The Ghana Tourism Authority(GTA) under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture is leading the project in collaboration with the Office of Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the President the PANAFEST Foundation and The Adinkra Group of the USA.
One of the main goals of the Year of Return campaign is to position Ghana as a key travel destination for African Americans and the African Diaspora. In 2019, the events planned throughout the year will serve as a launch pad for a consistent boost in tourism for Ghana in the near and distant years. Beyond tourism, this initiative supports one of the President’s key developmental agendas in Ghana Beyond Aid. We know that tourism can be a leading indicator to business and investment.
We are focused on ensuring that our brothers and sisters have a safe, pleasant and wonderful journey home so they will want to come back, get involved, see the opportunity that exists in Ghana for us to work together and begin to rebuild what has been stolen and lost over the past 400 years.
Participants at this year’s Pan-African Student Summit have been told to be cognizant of their ancestral root no matter how long it takes for them to discover their African identity.
The call was made by various speakers at the event who shared their individual stories about how they eventually became interested and identified with Pan-Africanism.
They included Diallo Sumbry, President & CEO of The Adinkra Group, Akwasi Agyeman, CEO, Ghana Tourism Authority, Prof.Esi Sutherland-Addy, Chairperson, PANAFEST Foundation, Paul Kwaw, Executive Director, W. E. B Du Bois Centre for Pan African Culture among others.
The two-day Pan African Student Summit which came off at the African House of the University of Ghana engaged university students of African descent from the Diaspora with Ghanaian university students to participate in critical discourse and think tanks on essential topics toward the liberation of all African people around the world: identity and social issues, economics and entrepreneurial possibilities, education, and global health and wellness.
Mr. Agyemang who is also Coordinator for the Year of Return speaking to the press at the Summit said for the visiting students it was such a great delight for him that they could be in the country to experience things for themselves and further be part of such an important discourse.
He added that the Year of Return Steering Committee and Secretariat will continue to support any individual, group, institutions and initiatives that will help bring more people from the diaspora into the country.
The March 8 and 9 Summit also included a collaborative service learning day at Echoing Hills School where summit participants had a lot of activities with kids and teachers at the school, including painting, games, planting of water melon seeds at the school’s garden and lot of fun-filled educational activities.
The Pan-African Student Summit is an initiative of 3GC Inc., True Culture University in partnership with CA Study Abroad, Antique Lemonade and the African American Association of Ghana with support from Year of Return – Ghana 2019.
Participants helping to paint Echoing Hills School
On 7th March, The Back2Africa Festival and Tour service day was in alignment with World Book Day, a day to promote reading, as the group of nearly 100 first time travellers to Ghana spent the day with the Akuapem Educational Service Partnership, at Nyame Bekyre School in Akuapim breaking ground for the establishment of a library and borehole in the community.
The Back2Africa team worked in partnership with the International Partnership for Economic and Sustainable Development to raise funds and books for the future library. The library groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Madam Martha Eghan, HeadMistress of Nyame Bekyre Municipal Assembly Basic School, Okoman Panyin of Akuahene’s Palace and Akwasi Agyeman CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority.
The Service Day at Akuapim was the final activity in Back2Africa’s 10-day schedule which included a calendar of arts, entertainment, cultural, and historic experiences at some of Ghana’s most historic venues in Kumasi, Cape Coast and Accra.
“Back2Africa Festival and Tour is one way we are committed to rebuilding the connections between Africa and her diaspora —culturally, spiritually and financially. As much as we want our group to enjoy Ghana, we also want to provide them with an opportunity to reassert their identities as Africans by giving back hence the launch of the Akuapem Educational Service Partnership where we made a commitment to impact the lives and education of the community through building a library and a borehole,” shares Diallo. ‘Daheart’ Sumbry, Founder of The Adinkra Group, an African Cultural Edutainment Resource and Consulting company based in Washington, DC and organisers of the Back2Africa festival.
The 2019 Back2Africa Festival and Tour was launched on the 26th of February at the Accra Tourist Information Centre for a welcoming communal festival called the “Akwaaba” Village featuring local Ghanaian homemade drinks and traditional fashion and artworks from local vendors. The Festival continued in Accra with the Back2Africa edition of JustMusic for an intimate live performance featuring Raheem Devaughn & Wes Felton of The CrossRhodes, an Open Mic/Jam Session in partnership with the African American Association of Ghana (AAAG) and the Back2Africa Birthright Concert, a family-oriented event celebrating Africa’s cultural legacy through traditional and modern African Dance, Drum and Theatre.
The Birthright concert was held at the National Theater was co-hosted by Ghanaian Actress Ama K. Abebrese and founder of the Adinkra Group, Mr. Diallo “Daheart” Sumbry.
From Accra, the group travelled to Cape Coast where they visited the historic slave dungeons that also included the Spirit of Resilience Concert and an emotional African Ancestry Reveal where travellers were given the results of their DNA ancestry.
“Back2Africa Festival and Tour served as an opportune occasion for us to reconnect with the culture and traditions of Ghana and also engage in a cross-cultural exchange with artists from both the US and Ghana including American socio-political musical duo, Raheem DeVaughn and Wes Felton who were visiting Ghana for the first time, intergenerational West African Drum and dance company, Farafina Kan, High life Sensation, Kwan Pa Music Band, Ghanaian actress Ama K. Abebrese, flutist Dela Botri, and the Ghana International School Ensemble,” adds Sumbry, a current and founding member of the Year of Return Steering Committee.
The Back2Africa Festival and Tour began in 2018 with a mission to reconnect people of the African Diaspora to the culture and traditions of Africa with a line-up of events that focuses on arts, performances, education and service projects in Ghana’s most historic venues. The 2019 edition was a part of the “Year of Return” programming, a year-long calendar of activities in “celebration of the resilience of the African spirit” coordinated by Ghana Tourism Authority, under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
Back2Africa festival partners include South African Airways, SunSeekers Tour, WaxPrint Media, African American Association of Ghana (AAAG), Ghana International School (GIS) and African Ancestry.