Sierra Leone Offers Citizenship to African Diasporans with Sierra Leonean AncestryAug 31, 2021 02:00PM ● By Nana Ama Addo
(Enslaved Gullah people at Boone Hall Plantation in South Carolina. Image by Denisbin via Flickr)
Sierra Leone, a West African country known for its abundance of natural resources, including diamonds, is developing a closer relationship with the descendants of the slave trade. This country, which is a mixture of indigenous African groups and descendants of formerly enslaved people of the African Diaspora from North America, Canada, and British colonies like Jamaica and Trinidad, is calling for more people of the diaspora to come home.
Through a partnership with African Ancestry and African American businessman Diallo Sumbry, who also played a monumental role in creating Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’ campaign, the country’s president announced that people who could prove they have Sierra Leonean DNA were eligible for Sierra Leonean citizenship.
Of the Africans transported to the Americas through the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, many were of Sierra Leonean descent. The Gullah People of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida are descendants of Sierra Leoneans who were enslaved on a coast known as the Sea Islands. The name ‘Gullah’ is said to be a version of ‘Gola’, which is a rice-growing tribe that exists in present-day Sierra Leone and Liberia. They were brought to the Sea Islands to cultivate rice and other crops. Because the Gullah people were given a certain level of autonomy, they were able to preserve their African culture and maintain their heritage today.
In May 2021, the founder of African Ancestry, Dr. Gina Paige, and Ms. Memunatu Pratt, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Tourism, signed an agreement and presented 59 passports to people of the African diaspora with Sierra Leonean DNA. At the ceremony, the Sierra Leonean president, Dr. Julius Maada Bio, extended a hand to the new passport holding Sierra Leoneans and invited them to invest in businesses, buy land, and undertake other activities to immerse themselves into Sierra Leonean society.
African Diasporan groups like the Sierra Leone-based international organization Black Star Action Network International (BSANI), co-founded by a person of the Gullah community, provide resources for people of the African Diaspora to learn more about relocating to Sierra Leone. The Gullah Leone Union, a collaborative partnership between Pan African organizations, and the Exodus Alliance, are other organizations that serve Sierra Leoneans and their descendants, as well as other people of the African diaspora.
Learn more about Gullah Leone’s work here: https://gullahleone.org .
Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Nana Ama tells stories of entrepreneurship and Ghana repatriation at her brand, Asiedua’s Imprint (www.asieduasimprint.com ).
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