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.
The oath of allegiance was administered by a judge in a ceremony at Jubilee House, the seat of government. The ceremony is the biggest highlight as Ghana marks 2019 as the Year of Return. One after the other, the new citizens took turns to shake hands with their president and went on to collect their citizenship certificates.
“On behalf of the government and people of Ghana, I congratulate you once again on resuming your identity as Ghanaians,” President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a speech on Wednesday, Nov. 27.
“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.
Ghana became the first African country In the year 2000 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.
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.
The “Year Of Return”
This year marks 400 years since the anchoring of an English ship in Jamestown, Virginia in the United States carrying a small group of enslaved Africans. While Africans had been in other parts of the Americas region (including the present-day United States) before 1619, that year is widely regarded as the commencement of the slave trade in the US.
This year, Ghana, marks this monumental event by declaring 2019 as the Year of Return. The theme offers the opportunity for Africans in the diaspora to find their way ‘home’, and reactivate their love for their roots and people.
The ‘ Year of Return‘ began with a strong touch to the motherland by Hollywood stars; Rosario Dawson, Naomi Campbell, Idris Elba, Michael Jai White who were hosted by Boris Kodjoe and marketing maven Bozoma Saint John as part of their ‘Full Circle Festival’.
This has put a spotlight on the Ghanaian ‘Year of Return’ and has had many more Hollywood stars trooping in to the land of Gold to find their roots. Notable in the couple of days has been the visit of Steve Harvey and his family who shared posts of their visit on social media site Instagram; Danny Glover as part of the event ‘Jamestown to Jamestown’ Samuel .L. Jackson, A.J. Johnson among others.