President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the African Diaspora to follow in the footsteps of W. E Dubois by making Africa their home and contributing to the development of the continent.
The President made these remarks, on Monday, 20th September 2021, at the signing of a historic partnership arrangement between the Du Bois Museum Foundation Ghana, an affiliate of the W. E B Dubois Foundation New York, and the Government of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
The partnership, which was initiated by the President in 2019 as part of his trip to promote “The Year of Return”, will see to the transformation of the current Du Bois Memorial Centre and burial site in Accra, into a state-of-the-art museum complex and world-class destination for scholars and heritage tourists.
Dr. Du Bois, a civil rights pioneer and one of the world’s leading black intellectuals and thinkers, became a citizen of Ghana and resided in the country until his death in 1963.
The Partnership will see the Du Bois Museum Foundation Ghana, leading the construction of a multi-million-dollar Museum Complex to preserve Dr. Du Bois’ legacy, over a 50-year period.
The Du Bois Museum Complex aims to transform the Centre and create a living museum that revives the transformative spirit and vision of Dr. Du Bois for a unified ancestral home for Africans in the diaspora around the world.
Upon completion, the complex will serve as a historic memorial site, where visitors can honour his life and legacy, connect to their cultural and ancestral roots, and serve as an impetus to inspire solidarity between people of African descent.
At the signing ceremony in New York, President Akufo-Addo highlighted the significance of the agreement in strengthening historical, cultural, and economic ties between Ghana and the United States, and Africans in the Diaspora.
This Agreement will build on the Government’s “Year of Return” and “Beyond the Return” campaigns that encourage the return of the African Diaspora from around the world.
“The Du Bois Museum Complex will usher in a renewed commitment to building an international treasure and historic memorial honouring the legacy of Dr. Du Bois, and fostering unity among the African Diaspora through a vibrant cultural and research centre,” said Japhet Aryiku, Executive Director, W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation. Aryiku, a Ghanaian American with more than 40 years of experience in corporate America and the philanthropic community, was inspired at a young age by Du Bois’ writings and ideals.
The Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, signed on behalf of Government, and paid tribute to the inspirational leadership of the President in positioning Ghana as the Mecca of the African diaspora.
Other speakers at the ceremony included Kwame Anthony Appiah, novelist and professor of philosophy and ethics, New York University and board member, W.E.B Du Bois Museum Foundation; and Daniel Rose, Chairman, W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation, philanthropist, and leading real estate developer of several award-winning properties.
Guests included the Minister of Finance of Ghana, Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta, Hon. Shirley Aryorkor Botchwey, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration; H. E Hajia Alima Mahama, Ghana’s Ambassador to the USA; Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority; and Humphrey Ayim-Darke of the Dubios Museum Foundation, Ghana.
”Mr. Speaker, it is most appropriate to commend our President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for declaring in September, 2018 that this year – 2019, shall be observed as the: “Year of Return, Ghana 2019.” It is trite knowledge that 2019 marks 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on the shores of Jamestown, Virginia in the United States of America” the North Tongue MP told the House.
”Since this proclamation, it is fair to note that Ghana has attracted considerable interest and high-level visits from Africans in the diaspora, perhaps taken such Pan-African pilgrimages to the next level since President Jerry John Rawlings institutionalized the PANAFEST celebrations in 1992,” Okudzeto Ablakwa extolled.
Mr. Ablakwa was also full of commendation for President Akufo-Addo for conferring Ghanaian citizenship on 126 Africans in the diaspora. He noted that the country has done very little to take advantage of the provisions of the constitution that permits diasporans to be given such honour.
”Mr. Speaker, kindly permit me to also highlight the conferment of citizenship on 126 Africans in the diaspora by the President last week. The House will recall that last year I made a statement urging the State to make greater use of this provision in our laws,”
”Since the days of the exceptional intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois and that great poet Maya Angelou were granted citizenship, it remains my humble view that we have not made impressive effort to leverage this opportunity even though I acknowledge that in 2016 President John Dramani Mahama granted citizenship to 30 Africans in the diaspora,” he said.
In September 2018 in Washington, D.C, President Akufo-Addo declared and formally launched the ‘Year of Return Ghana 2019’ for Africans in the diaspora, giving fresh impetus to the quest to unite Africans on the continent with their brothers and sisters in the diaspora.
A number of African Americans, including Steve Harvey, Boris Kodjoe, Michael Jai White, Anthony Anderson, Idris Elba, Jidenna, Samuel L Jackson and Deborah Cox have already visited Ghana as part of the initiative.
PANAFEST & Emancipation officially opened with a wreath-laying ceremony remembering three important pioneers in the Pan African movement; George Padmore, W.E.B. DuBois and Kwame Nkrumah. All three were passionate about uniting the global African family and were responsible for laying a foundation that made a positive change for people of African descent.
PANAFEST & Emancipation are deeply rooted in celebrating the African family and teaching the knowledge and heritage of our people. The events are taking place from 24th July – 2nd August at locations in Accra and Cape Coast. This year’s theme is ‘Beyond 400 Years: Reaching Across Continents into the Future.’ The first day’s events began at the W.E.B DuBois Centre for Pan-African Culture in Cantonments, Accra with a ceremony that included the laying of wreaths on his grave. Everyone then moved to the George Padmore Library where Padmore’s remains have been laid to rest to also perform a ceremony laying wreaths in his honour. At this location, an eternal flame was lit. “May our commitment to the cause of Africa and to the upliftment of its people everywhere on the continent and the Americas wherever the black race should find himself never die by the lighting of this flame,” said Ben Anane-Nsiah, Product Development Manager at Ghana Tourism Authority.
The final part of the program was at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park in Accra Central. Dignitaries and notable people from the diaspora were in attendance including Stephanie S. Sullivan, the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Akwasi Ababio, Director of Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President, Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority, Claudia Turbay Quintero, Ambassador, Embassy of Columbia, and Dr. Thomas Mensah, Chemical Engineer and Inventor, and H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett, Head of Mission Diaspora African Forum, are just a few of the key attendees at the event.
A.J. Johnson, an Actress and Motivational Coach from the U.S. participated in the events with laying a wreath in honour of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president. She said she couldn’t believe that she only came to Ghana for the first time just over 6 months ago and now here she was participating in a significant event. She was honoured to be asked to lay a wreath in memoriam of Nkrumah.
Steven Golding, President of UNIA Jamaica, delivered a compelling speech at Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. He spoke of how Jamaicans positively received President Nana Akufo-Addo on his recent trip to Jamaica, “We look forward to the day when all African nations will welcome home with open arms the sons and daughters of those who were ripped from this continent hundreds of years ago, because as Peter Tosh said no matter where we come from as long as we are black we are Africans.”
Dr. Thomas Mensah, Chemical Engineer, Inventor and holder of 14 U.S. patents gave his keynote address just before the crowd moved towards the wreath-laying at Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. His passion for uplifting Black people globally resonated in all he said. His motto, “The Right Stuff Comes in Black Too” is meant to inspire us to believe in the possibility of success when we believe in ourselves and learn to work together. It’s about breaking the negative stereotypes about Africa and black people worldwide.
This is just the beginning of many events scheduled over the coming week for PANAFEST & Emancipation. For more information on upcoming activities, visit the website www.panafestghana.org.