As part of the year-long Year of Return celebrations, the president of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Wednesday, officially conferred citizenship on 126 diasporans who have been residing in the West African nation for several years.
Ghana is the only country in the 21st century that has legally offered to resettle people of African descent in Africa.
“I am glad you have decided to make Ghana your home, and thereby, join several generations of Diasporans, who committed their lives to us,” the president said after the conferment.
With 75% of the slave dungeons that were constructed along the West coast of Africa sited in the country, Ghana was a major hub and transit point for the transportation of slaves through the Middle Passage. It is in this regard, according to the president, that the country has, for a very long while, been welcoming their diasporan brothers and sisters with open arms.
“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.
In the year 2000, Ghana became the first African country to officially open its doors to people of African descent from all over the world. The country passed the “Right of Abode” law which allows any person of African descent to apply and be granted the right to stay in Ghana indefinitely.
This was followed by the launch of the Diaspora Affairs Bureau under the foreign affairs ministry in 2014 to manage the migration and engage the diaspora to provide a sustainable link with various government agencies to achieve development and investment goals.
As at 2014, over 3,000 African-Americans and people of Caribbean descent are estimated to be living in Ghana.
In 2016 alone, 34 Afro-Caribbeans were granted Ghanaian citizenship to enjoy full benefits as Ghanaians. Those who have stayed on appreciate the warmth and peacefulness of the country, despite the few cultural setbacks like being regarded as more American and Caribbean than African despite years of living in the country.
Ghana was home to pan-Africanists like George Padmore, Maya Angelou, W. E. B. Du Bois, Pauli Murray, among others who emigrated after the country’s independence in 1957 after establishing a friendship with the first president Kwame Nkrumah who himself had studied in the United States.
Take a look at some photos of the historic ceremony which took place at the seat of government below: