Earlier this week, Ghanaweb published a report culled from a barely-known blog named ‘The AfroDrifter’ with a tiny social media following of 4 Instagram followers, 144 Facebook likes and 339 Twitter followers. The author of the blog post, Freeman Chari, is a Zimbabwean living in America. We wish to point out emphatically that the statements made in the blog post about Ghana’s booth at the New York Times Travel Show are false and likely driven by a desire to drive traffic to his site or stems from inadequate understanding of the show or the industry. Interestingly the blog had no picture of the booth or the four people he claimed were on their phones continuously for two days.
In 2020, North America is being focused on as a key target market as Ghana builds on the momentum of the Year of Return into the new project ” Beyond the Return”.The World Tourism Organization reports that Americans spent 144 billion (U.S. dollars) on tourism expenditures in 2018. The buying power of the African-American population is expected to increase to 1.4 trillion U.S. dollars by 2020 as reported by Statista.
To capitalize on the North American market trends and to enter the United States travel trade show sector, GTA for the first time ever, attended the New York Times Travel Show held at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City from 24th – 26th January 2020. The delegation was led by the Minister of Tourism Arts & Culture and included the GTA CEO, Manager Year of Return, GTA Product Development & Investment Manager, and three of the leading private sector tour operators (Landtours, Sunseekers, Apstar). The New York Times Travel Show attracts more than 35,000 attendees with over 700 exhibitors from more than 175 countries, making it the largest travel trade and consumer show in North America.
The GTA booth was dually branded as ‘Visit Ghana’ and ‘Beyond The Return.’
The setup was engaging with several trade and consumer visitors. At one point in time, GTA had to annex an unoccupied stand to be able to serve the numerous visitors. The tables were nicely covered with the white “Year of Return” cloth, the backdrop was boldly branded as ‘Beyond The Return,” and the entryway branded as ‘Visit Ghana.” There were thousands of marketing materials and giveaways to visitors which included Ghana chocolate, notebooks, pen drives, informational materials and much more.
Ghana was also one of the few African countries that had a speaking opportunity at the show with the CEO featuring as a product expert on Heritage offerings. On the sidelines of the travel show, the team led by the Minister engaged media Houses such as the New York Times, Harlem Times and clinched a deal to host this year’s Africa Tourism Association “World to Africa” Tourism Conference in Ghana in October, 2020.
In the post-event wrap up meeting the Minister held with the private sector tour operators, they were extremely happy with the leads they generated through the lead retrieval app deployed to collect lead information. To collect a lead, tour operators and GTA officials used their mobile phones to scan the QR Code on the name badge of each interested lead. The data from the QR Code about the lead was automatically sent to a database for immediate action.
We have taken pains to explain in detail because several well-meaning and patriotic Ghanaians have reached out to find out the accuracy of the report. Whilst we welcome criticism and feedback, we will not be distracted in our quest to market and make Ghana a top tourism destination.
The ‘AfroDrifter’ blog post is inaccurate and must be disregarded.
Celebrated Holywood African- American actor, Boris Kodjoe has voiced his opinion on the media’s depiction of Africa as a war-ridden continent. For him, the opportunity to showcase the other side of Africa to the world was not only to commemorate the 400thyear of the arrival of the first documented enslaved Africans in Virginia but to also help make that switch from the mentality of “Descendants of Slaves” to “Descendants of Survivors”.
According to him, they (Boris, his wife, his brother, Bozoma Saint John and his crew) wanted to show people the true side of Africa because the media’s narrative of Africa as a famine and war zone is quite disappointing and perpetuation of falsehood. He stated that Africa is not a country, as some people perceive. On the contrary, he stressed the fact that seven (7) out of the 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa with a rich diversity in food, culture, music, people etc.
Speaking on the American talk show, THE REAL, the actor of Ghanaian descent asserted, “traditional media has painted a picture of Africa as a place of war and famine to Europe and it’s not true”. And we wanted to show people the True side of Africa”. He recounted all the fun they had with the huge crowds at the Afrochella festival and Afronation, which were two of the major events that took place in December in Ghana.
He made these remarks with regard while sharing his experience at the Essence Full Circle festival held in Ghana. He also spoke about visiting amazing Heritage sites in Ghana such as the Cape Coast Castle and many other heritage sites. He added that Africa was not just great for tourism but also great for business.
The Essence Full Circle festival was held in Ghana under the ‘Year of Return’ initiative, which was themed “Celebrating the African Resilience”. Thousands of people of African origin especially African Americans including several Hollywood celebrities visited Ghana for Christmas. Some of the stars include Idris Elba, Naomi Campbell, Akon, Rick Ross, T.I., Ludacris, Steve Harvey and several others from the diaspora who were all welcomed home to Ghana and will hopefully become one of the legacies which celebrate African resilience.
Also visiting Ghana in 2019 to partake in the celebration were the Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Congressional Black Caucus, Kofi Kingston and also the Prime Minister of Barbados.
Ghana’s biggest branding campaign “Year of Return” ended last year with heritage tourism being the core pull factor for the African American population. It will go down as one of the country’s biggest branding and tourism campaign and its effect were felt around the globe.
The country’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who launched the project in America in 2018 has opened the new chapter which seeks to build on the goodwill the country has enjoyed to drive Diaspora investment into the West African country.
He launched the “Beyond the Return “ initiative and the Ghana Tourism Authority is expected to play a key role in the execution of this initiative.
Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) annually embarks on several marketing campaigns in its source markets. While there are new areas they seek to explore, GTA is equally keen to consolidate markets that have naturally been considered key to its marketing strategies.
The Netherlands is one of the countries they often showcase the country’s tourism assets. It’s capital, Amsterdam is connected to Accra daily by KLM and adds up to the factors which influence their choices. Vakantiebeurs Consumer Holiday Fair was the first stop for the Authority.
Millennials’ excitement about Ghana
Year of Return might have ended but the collateral success is still attracting people to Ghana. During the show, Millennials’ who visited Ghana’s stand were looking to visit Ghana at some point during the summer holidays. They made mention of programs such as Afrochella and AfroNation as some of the events they want to participate in.
The Suriname community in the Netherlands see Ghana as their natural home and can’t get enough of the rich Ghanaian culture.
Business & strategic meetings
The CEO of the GTA Akwasi Agyeman and his team held several meetings with hospitality and tourism institutions to explore a partnership to the benefit of Ghana’s burgeoning tourism sector.
Ghana Day Reception
The Ghana Day celebration has become one of the social events GTA holds to showcase the gastronomy of the country as well as the display of rich Ghanaian music and dance. Once again, the Year of Return vibe attracted hundreds of trade and consumers to the Ghana stand. Ghana’s Ambassador to the Netherlands H.E. Sophia Honar Sam led the cultural dancers with “Adowa” dance.
Prospects of Netherlands-Belgium Markets
The GTA CEO in his remark to the press at the just ended exhibition said, they would like to continue the marketing efforts in the Netherlands and also encourage diasporans and Ghanaians living in the Netherlands to come home and invest in the country’s economy since it offers a better return on investment.
The Ghana Tourism Authority, on behalf of the Government of Ghana, and Event Horizon, Organisers of the Afro-Nation Festival, on Monday, 20th January 2020, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Ghana to play host to “the biggest urban music beach festival in the world” for the next five years.
The MoU, which was signed by Mr. Akwasi, CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), and Obi Asika, CEO of Event Horizon, was witnessed by the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in London, on the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit.
The signing of the MoU is part of a number of plans Ghana is putting in place, as it kick-starts the “Beyond the Return” project.
‘Beyond the Return’ aims to engage Africans in the Diaspora and all persons of African descent more positively in areas such as trade and investment co-operation, and skills and knowledge development.
The MoU will also allow the Ghana Tourism Authority and any governmental ministry, agency or authority it deems necessary to on behalf of the Government of Ghana, oversee all designs, content and production of Merchandise for the Afro-Nation Ghana Project.
The parties have also agreed, in preparation for the event every year, to establish a Local Organising Committee, comprising of representatives of each of the parties or their affiliates for the Afro-Nation Ghana Project with the LOC, amongst other duties, to be stated in the binding document responsible for securing additional sponsorship for the project.
In his remarks, after the signing of the MoU, Obi Asika stated that “Ghana is a welcoming destination, and we were happy with the warm reception we received since we took Afro-Nation to the country. The President’s commitment to the project is unparalleled, and we look forward to another successful event in December 2020“.
On his part, the CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Akwasi Agyeman said “Afro-Nation is amongst one of the key events on which we are anchoring the ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative. We want to make Ghana the number one entertainment destination in Africa. December in Ghana will never be the same again”.
About Beyond The Return
Beyond the Return” is a follow-up to the successful Year of Return, Ghana 2019’ campaign which commemorated the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded enslaved Africans in Jamestown Virginia in 1619. The landmark campaign also celebrated the resilience of the African over the past 400 years and welcomed all people of African origin to return to Africa especially Ghana.
It’s the last Saturday of the year in the heart of Accra, Ghana’s capital. The air is thick with the anticipation of the thousands of revelers who have swarmed the gates of El Wak Stadium to take part in an annual celebration of African culture known as Afrochella.
Inside it’s a sea of diversity. Austrian, Ivorian and Nigerian men pose for cameras before inviting an American woman to join.
Nearby, two French women draped in the traditional Ghanaian Kente cloth dance to a mix of reggae and afrobeats.
At the bar, four British men chat with locals while scanning the crowd bathed in neon lights.
They all have one thing in common: they answered Ghana’s call to come home.
A new Harlem Renaissance
Ghana is having a moment and some describe it as akin to the Harlem Renaissance, the 1920s movement in the United States that’s credited with revolutionizing African-American arts and culture.
Ana Lucia Araujo, Professor of History at Howard University, says what’s happening in Africa now correlates almost identically with the Harlem experience.
“The Harlem Renaissance was a time when African culture and arts were finally being valued during a period when segregation and racism ran rampant in America,” Araujo told CNN.
“We are finding now that the diaspora wants to experience their culture and feel accepted in a place where racism is not so engrained as in many parts of the West,” she says of Ghana’s appeal.
Cynthia Ofori-Dwumfuo, a 35-year-old Ghanaian citizen who serves as the head of marketing for an insurance company, agrees.
“We are getting to a point where the dichotomy between Africans and the diaspora is slowly fading away,” she says. “We are all starting to see that we are all African. What is happening here is a celebration of culture and it has helped me to see that being African is so cool.”
The Pan-African movement
This is not the first time that African-Americans and the diaspora have heeded the call to come home to Africa.
Araujo says that shortly after the US abolition of slavery in the 19th century, influential leaders such as Marcus Garvey pleaded with African-Americans to return to Africa, some staying for good, including the Pan-Africanist intellectual, W.E.B. Dubois.
In 2019, Ghana ran a hugely popular Year of Return campaign to attract international visitors of Ghanaian descent.
In Accra, people from all walks of life arrived in the thousands in the last few days of 2019. Among them was the mother of megastar Beyoncé, Tina Lawson, who was visiting Ghana for the first time.
“This experience has been eye-opening,” she told CNN in Accra. “I understand now why everyone is talking about coming here. This place makes me want to heal.”
Felix Darko, 26, a German-Ghanaian computer engineer who moved to Ghana when he was eight, says the Year of Return is significant.”It was the year that Ghana jumped into the global and diaspora consciousness,” he says.
“This place is incredibly rich in culture and is also one of the more culturally relevant places to visit for the diaspora as most slaves that were taken from the continent were done so from our shores.”
‘A spiritual and birthright journey’
The Year of Return marked 400 years since the first arrival of African slaves stepped on American soil.
The Ghana Tourism Authority and Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture spearheaded the campaign, inviting the “global African family, home and abroad” to make the “landmark spiritual and birthright journey.”
Two hours west of the capital, in the Cape Coast, comedian Steve Harvey, actors Boris Kodjoe, Danny Glover and musicians T.I. and Ludacris all visited the Elmina Castle, a life-changing trip for most, who come to tour the major hub that served as the final destination in Africa for millions of slaves before being shipped overseas.
Ghana Tourism Authority’s CEO, Akwasi Agyemang, told CNN that the social, economic and media impact from Year of Return has been a “phenomenal awakening.”
A rival to Ibiza or Cape Cod?
The World Bank also notes that compared to 2018, Ghana’s economy expanded with a GDP growth rate at 6.7% in the first quarter alone, its private sector grew stronger and local businesses have seen a significant improvement, said Agyemang.
Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo said last December that the diaspora has positively impacted countries “through increased trade activities, investments and the transfer of skills.”
Ghana made 126 African-Americans and Caribbeans its citizens part of Year of Return celebrations
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo/Facebook
Asante Berko, owner of two restaurants, AM&PM and Fat Fish, at Accra’s upscale community, the Villagio, described how his businesses have been impacted in one word: “Phenomenal.”
“Sales practically tripled,” he said, adding that demand was so high that he was forced to turn people away.
But the reason behind this was more important than the business revenue, he insists. “To be a part of this movement has taught me the strength in numbers. [The diaspora] can normalize this and make this a place akin to Ibiza or Cape Cod.”
The country’s tourism authority agrees. “This is a very important time for this country,” CEO Agyemang says.
“People are now starting to make the pilgrimage here just like Jerusalem or Mecca, and we are here to welcome them if they decide to return.”
Ghanaian-American Kojo Terry Oppong, the owner of a Ghanaian lifestyle concierge service, doesn’t need any further convincing to return.
“As many of us in the diaspora experience our “moment of clarity,” he says.
“I trust that others will join me in agreeing that it is not malaria, poor infrastructure, etc… that you need to be concerned about. It is the “Ghana Bug,” which once bitten, makes you hold her dear in your heart.
“You will find yourself coming back again, and again, and again,” he says.
President Akufo-Addo wants Ghanaians to extend their supportive attitude portrayed towards the “Year of Return”, to this year’s “Beyond the Return” initiative.
President Akufo-Addo believes it was due to such an attitude that the year of return was a success and he wants to see same for Beyond the Return.
A statement from the Presidency indicated that, “the welcoming attitude and the warm Ghanaian hospitality proved to be the strongest attention to hundreds of thousands of our ‘kith and kin’ from the African diaspora, who thronged our shores to commemorate the year of return.
“I urge all Ghanaians to demonstrate this same level of excitement and commitment that characterised the “Year of Return,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo initiated the Year of Return to invite all diasporans back home to not only learn more but explore and even invest in the country.
Since this initiative began many African-Americans have made their way into the country to learn more about their history. Some include Steve Harvey , Samuel L Jackson , Anthony Anderson, Micheal Jai White, Boris Kodjoe, Nicole Ari Parker, Diggy Simmons and many others.
The President launched the now “Beyond the Return” initiative as a way to continue with and solidify relations between Africans and those in the diaspora.
He said the “Year of Return’, proved itself to be exciting, and afforded Ghanaians the chance to re-establish, intensify and solidify the relations between those of us on the continent and those in the diaspora.”
He further commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and other institutions and persons who made The Year of Return possible for “their sense of professionalism and dedication to duty, which enabled them to preserve the peace and security of our country in the course of the celebration.”
The President also urged Ghanaians to take advantage of all opportunities that the initiative will present as this “will entail that we engage in mutually beneficial trade, investment and cultural co-operation with the Africa Diaspora.”
ACCRA, Ghana — The man from Boston stared at the ocean and thought: Maybe I’ll never go back.
He’d come to coastal Ghana for an adventure, he told friends, but his motivation ran deeper. Pierre Delva, 32, craved a fresh start without the question that had bothered him since childhood.
“Is it because I’m black?” the used-car salesman said, reclining at a seaside bar in the nation’s capital, Accra. “You don’t have to wonder here.”
What started as an anniversary promotion called the Year of Return — a government-funded call for the African diaspora to explore Ghana four centuries after the first slave ship reached Virginian soil — has enticed some Americans to stay for good.
Officials in this West African nation of roughly 29 million people say interest has overwhelmed the tourism office as the annual flood of visitors has more than doubled and A-list celebrities spark frenzies around the capital.
By December, border agents were running out of visa stickers. Applications to enter Ghana shot up from about 1,000 per week to a staggering 10,000, said Akwasi Agyeman, chief executive of the Ghana Tourism Authority. Most visitors are American, he said.
More surprising, he said, was the number of people who have decided to stay: 126 were granted citizenship this fall, including 46 Americans, in the country’s biggest naturalization ceremony since 2016.
“We could not have imagined this,” Agyeman said.
The rush to Ghana, where millions of Africans were forced into servitude before the slave trade ended in 1870, intensified after tweets from President Trump.
In July, Trump told four congresswomen — including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a Somali refugee — to “go back” to “the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came,” sparking outrage around the world. (All four are U.S. citizens.)
Omar responded Aug. 1 from the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, where she posted photos with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on an official visit this summer.
“So grateful for the honour to return to Mother Africa,” Omar tweeted.
The high-profile sparring amplified attention on Ghana, Agyeman said. Calls and emails surged. Hotel costs climbed.
People spoke of booking a trip, he said, as a way to strike back at Trump’s words.
Ghana’s quest to attract tourists began as a strategy to bolster the economy. It’s a mission countries across the continent share as leaders aim to harness historical sites, national parks and glittering shorelines.
Consumer spending on tourism, hospitality and leisure in Africa is projected to hit $262 billion in the next decade, up from $124 billion in 2015, according to the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Business leaders laud it as a path to shrink reliance on raw-material exports to foreign superpowers that tend to exploit workers and hog the benefits.
The climate in Ghana is ripe for entrepreneurs to fill potholes, add traffic lights and digitize tax returns, among other business moves, said Kojo Terry Oppong, founder of BlackBand, a concierge service for tourists and business travellers.
“This is a market where you can solve a lot of basic problems and make a lot of money,” said Oppong, 30, who was born in Accra and raised primarily in New Jersey.
It’s also part of the youngest region on Earth, with an exploding middle class of customers.
The problem: Some foreigners associate Africa with disease, war and famine. Celebrities with gigantic social media followings are helping to spread another view.
Steve Harvey and the rapperT.I. visited the country in recent weeks, for instance, along with Conan O’Brien, who filmed a special in Accra. (“It’s very important to me that I am very popular in Ghana,” O’Brien said in the November bit.)
The buzz is reaching phone screens worldwide.
“People can look up and say, ‘Cardi B’s in Africa?’ ” Oppong said. “What does that even look like?”
It looks like an artist with 56 million Instagram followers strutting into Accra’s posh Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City one December night as fans sporting Versace and wax prints shrieked.
A reporter asked Cardi B about her impression of Ghana hours before she played her first show in the country.
“They don’t know it’s lit,” the rapper said of her fellow Americans. “They don’t know it’s beautiful. They don’t know the food is delicious.”
Cardi B had ordered spicy prawns from the poolside grill that afternoon and checked into a suite that costs up to $12,000 a night. (She later performed in a Ghanaian red, yellow and green bodysuit.)
Down in the lobby, Maurice Cheetham, a Ghanaian American from Detroit who launched a tour company here two years ago, lounged in a leather booth.
“When I was growing up, it wasn’t ‘cool’ to be African,” he said as lanky models nearby snapped selfies. “I put it deep inside me.”
That changed after his father died. Cheetham, 45, felt called to discover his roots and fell in love with Accra.
“Now everyone wants to come,” he said. His clients have quadrupled.
The swelling crowds of Americans are putting more cash into local pockets. Artists at the biggest craft market in town estimate their monthly earnings have risen from about $450 to $750.
But some see the visitors as rich people in a fancy adult version of a study-abroad program.
“They already have a lot of money,” said Kojo Osei, 37, who hawks soccer jerseys at an Accra stall.
Osei notices mostly families or tourists in their late 20s and 30s — not a lot of high school graduates seeking greener pastures in a nation where the average yearly earnings amount to $2,130.
“If they really want to see Ghana, they should go to the villages,” he said. “See the reality.”
Ghana’s government hopes the spotlight will create more jobs for everyone. Next year brings “Beyond the Return,” a public campaign to help new arrivals get settled for the long haul.
Delva, the former Bostonian, landed in August with his life savings and a YouTube education on Ghana.
“I watched every video out there,” he said.
The Year of Return chatter had sparked his interest. His parents are from Haiti with roots in West Africa. He felt stuck in America. He was sick of the racism.
The foreign land across the Atlantic seemed more accessible.
“You can’t just walk into the Bank of America and ask for a meeting with the CEO,” Delva said. “You’ve got a shot to do things like that here.”
Now he has a full calendar, a spacious apartment and a mix of friends with big plans.
“When I think about going home to the States,” Delva said, “it almost makes me want to cry.”
Of course, he’ll visit his family. But this place, he said, holds his future.
Delva recently found a scrawny dog on the beach, fed him back to health and named him Billion — a nod, he said, to his potential in Ghana.
The Made in Ghana Street Fair is an official Year of Return event and will feature some of the best locally made products from across the country. Catherine Morton, CEO Street Fairs Int. and an Event organiser said this street fair is very important because it brings emphasis to Ghanaian products. We’ve become a society that often patronizes foreign goods and this event is a great way to bring the attention back on our local products.
“We have vendors coming all the way from the Northern Region, and other very far places with products that people don’t even know about in Accra. We believe that in this festive period, when we have Christmas, we shop a lot, but most often we forget about the indigenous products we have in Ghana,” she said.
Having an event like this will give shoppers who flock to Osu an opportunity to meet vendors and learn about what they are selling while supporting local business owners. “We have close to 300 vendors participating this year,” she said, “You’ll find everything from garments to textiles, beauty, food, arts and crafts, almost every category. Being a Year of Return event, this also puts the spotlight on our locally made products for visitors to take advantage of. This is one of the ways we can export our culture to the diaspora through products and services.
The Made in Ghana Street Fair takes place twice this month; 20th-22nd December in Osu on Oxford Street and 27th-29th December at Junction Mall.
Cardi B. is one of hip-hop’s most commercially successful female artists and she has a legion of fans around the world, including in Ghana. The artist performed on Sunday 8th December at the Accra Sports Stadium to an eager crowd of fans. When she burst onto stage giving a packed performance of dancing and fireworks the crowd went wild with some rapping along to all the lyrics.
She was dressed in a costume that paid homage to the Ghana flag in red, gold and green with the black star. Even her wig, which she took off and threw into the crowd at the end of her show, was streaked with the colours of the Ghana flag.
Ahead of her performance, she had a meet and greet at the Kempinski Hotel which included celebrities, creatives, business people, media and some of her die-hard fans. Cardi arrived to cheers as everyone had waited to see her most of the day. Originally scheduled to happen earlier that afternoon, many invited guests had waited for many hours. Some of the invitees took to social media to express their feelings of anger and disappointment when she didn’t make an appearance in the afternoon. Cardi explained to the audience that she wasn’t aware that a meeting with her fans and local celebrities was scheduled and assured everyone that she loves her fans and never intended to disrespect anyone.
Ghanaian Singer/Songwriter Becca moderated the Q&A session and also gave women in the audience an opportunity to ask questions directly to Cardi.
The interactive session also gave some local talents an opportunity to gift Cardi with some of their products. Kwaku Bediako, CEO of Chocolate Clothing GH, gave her two items. Bediako explained that he normally designs for men, but has created a new concept of unisex designs. Cardi loved it and even asked him for a belt to wear the style he gave her. Other designers including Kua Designs took the opportunity to share their made in Ghana brands with Cardi. An artist even revealed a portrait he made of the rapper and she gave him a hug to thank him for the gift.
Nadia Adongo Musah, Deputy Director for Diaspora Affairs in the Office of the President, presented Cardi B with a Year of Return woven sash. It was also an opportunity for the Deputy Director to tell everyone more about how the Year of Return was launched by the President.
Cardi’s passion to connect with her fans meant she was willing to take pictures with everyone before she dashed off to get ready for the concert.
”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.