Ghana has granted citizenship to 126 African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans as the country marks 2019 as the ‘Year of Return’.
The new citizens were welcomed to the country by President Nana Akufo-Addo during a ceremony on Wednesday.
“On behalf of the government and people of Ghana, I congratulate you once again on resuming your identity as Ghanaians,” said President Nana.
“Your decision to be a Ghanaian citizen means that you have agreed to respect and abide by the laws of Ghana and live in accordance with the tenets of Ghana’s Constitution. You have the responsibility of preserving and promoting the image of the country whose reputation amongst the community of nations is today, high.”
The issuance of citizenship forms part of activities for the ‘Year of Return’ initiative, which seeks to welcome back members of the diaspora to Ghana to celebrate 400 years since the first slaves were taken from the country.
“We recognize our unique position as the location for 75% of the slave dungeons built on the west coast of Africa through which the slaves were transported. That is why we had a responsibility to extend the hand of welcome, back home to Africans in the diaspora,” President Nana added.
Dressed in colorful traditional costumes, the new citizens took oaths of allegiance administered by a judge during the ceremony. Each of them was issued with a citizenship certificate by President Nana during the event.
“The most valuable possession that was taken away from us was our identity and our connection; it was like severing the umbilical cord… But tonight, our identity, the dignity, the pride that has been absent is restored here,” Rabbi Kohain, who spoke on behalf of the new citizens said.
This is not the first time Ghana is granting citizenship to diasporan Africans who have established residency. In 2016, former president John Mahama witnessed a naturalization ceremony where 34 diasporan Africans were granted citizenship.