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FunTimes Magazine

African Americans and Caribbean Receive Ghanaian Citizenship during Year of Return Celebration in Accra

The air was filled with euphoria. Rows of African Americans and Caribbean, who were now officially Ghanaians, waved black star flags above their heads, and the President of Ghana, Nana Akuffo Addo, sat in front of the audience, smiling fondly as the applause rose to a crescendo.

On Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 at the Jubilee House in Accra, Ghana,Nana Akuffo Addo presented 126 people of the African Diaspora with Ghanaian citizenship. This event was the culmination of hard work, campaigning and tension from many diasporan advocacy groups in collaboration with the Ghanaian government.

Two hours before the occasion, at 5pm, members of the diaspora gathered at Afrikkiko, a restaurant and bar in Accra Ghana, to share final words and celebrate this milestone.

Attendees later arrived at the Jubilee House for a swearing-in ceremony having been told to bring a Bible, Quran, crucifix or a shrine.

Throughout the program, lyrics from the song ‘African’ by reggae artist, Peter Tosh became a metaphor of atonement within the African Diaspora: ‘Don’t care where you come from / as long as you are a black man, you are an African.’

After the new citizens received their citizenship papers, Rabbi Kohain from PANAFEST spoke to the audience about the gravity of this event and claimed this event as a grand reunion for all of the Diaspora.

Diasporan advocacy groups in Ghana like the Bureau of African Diaspora Affairs, PANAFEST, the African American Association of Ghana and more joined together to campaign for descendants of the TransAtlantic slave trade to receive citizenship through the ‘Right of Return.’ The international mandate of the ‘Right of Return’ states that indigenous communities who have been displaced have the right to reintegrate into their country of origin.

The citizenship celebration was the second of its kind. The first group of Diasporans who received Ghanaian citizenship as a Right of Return were 34 in number, under the presidency of John Mahama in 2016.

This event was monumental for Ghana and the Diaspora, as it coincides with the Year of Return coming to a close. 2019, which is the 400th year anniversary of the TransAtlantic slave trade, was declared the Year of Return in Ghana by President Akuffo-Addo. This initiative was designed to welcome displaced people of the Diaspora Back to Ghana.

Nzali Abraham of H.E.R. Collective, from North Carolina, is one of the African Americans who were granted citizenship.

The celebration included yearlong events to commemorate the resistance of enslaved Africans, land allocation to Diasporans and more. There has been an influx in tourism, including visits from Steve Harvey, Danny Glover, T.I. Tip Harrison, Ciara, and performances by Raheem Davaughn, Cardi B and others. Airport arrivals in Ghana also increased 45%, amounting to 237,088 arrivals in total.

Ghana has an extensive legacy of being a beacon of repatriation for those in the Diaspora, and with citizenship, returnees are more able to fully integrate into society.

Have you considered repatriating to Africa? If so, what country and why?

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