Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo conferred citizenship Wednesday to 126 African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans residents as part of the country’s ongoing ‘Year of Return’. His office said the diasporic immigrants had lived in Ghana for many 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.
The president told the newly inducted citizens at a conferment ceremony that he was “glad [they] decided to make Ghana [their] home and thereby join several generations of Diasporans, who committed their lives” to the country.
Akufo-Addo made not of the many prominent members of the African diaspora who had chosen to make Ghana their home,George Padmore, Bob Marley’s widow, Rita, Maya Angelou, and W.E.B du Bois, the latter of whom is buried in the country.
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.
The ceremony was one of many that the country has hosted this year aimed at addressing the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade and welcoming the descendants of its victims to return to West African shores.
This is not the first time Ghana has given citizenship to diasporan Africans who have established residency. In one of his last acts in office, former president John Mahama witnessed a naturalization ceremony ‘restoring’ citizenship to 34 diasporan Africans in December 2016.
The president told attendees his country recognized that three in four of the region’s historic slave dungeons, which served as export points for the slave trade’s human cargo, were located in Ghana.