Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — On January 6, I was blessed to receive my Ghana citizenship along with Bro. Earl 3X Reddix of Las Vegas, Nevada. Our swearing in ceremony occurred at the Ministry of Interior where a number of other new citizens were sworn in and I was honored to be chosen to address the new group.
The ceremony was one day before the West African Nation officially changed leadership after the Electoral defeat of President John Dramani Mahama and the ruling NDC party to Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP party in national elections. I received a call saying if I was going to receive my citizenship, it had to be granted before Jan. 7 when the new president would be sworn in.
The move is the fulfillment of a vision by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana who desired this marriage between Africa and Black people of America and the Diaspora since his days of college in the United States. Connections between Dr. Nkrumah several people were fostered in those years that planted the seed of reconnecting descendents of a people estranged by 400 years of separation caused by the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Dr. Robert Lee, one of those descendants told me a touching story of how he and his girlfriend Sarah – who later became his wife – saw a sign posted at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania announcing a speaker with a funny name would conduct a lecture on Africa. They decided to attend the lecture.
The speaker was Kwame Nkrumah, whose knowledge of Africa and the struggle of the African people moved them, according to Dr. Lee. When Robert and Sarah finished graduate school they reached out for Dr. Nkrumah and made a conscious decision to move to Africa and became citizens of Ghana. The Lees were Dentists and shared their knowledge to help Ghana. Their experiences working with Dr. Nkrumah can be read in the book titled ‘American Africans in Ghana’ by Kevin K. Gaines.
Dr. Sarah Lee also became the first African American director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center in Accra. Dubois, his wife Shirley Graham Du Bois and other luminary figures from the Diaspora like George Padmore from Trinidad also played significant roles in the development of Ghana in its early post independent years.
Dr. Nkrumah also advanced the vision of Africans in the Diaspora having a major part in the development of the whole continent. Blacks in the Diaspora were dragged out of Africa in the hulls of slave ships and brought to the Western Hemisphere for free labor to build a world for the Europeans.
Michelle Obama during the 2016 Democratic National Convention touched on this in a profound way when she stated, “I wake up every morning in a house built by slaves.” She struck a blow for consciousness to both Blacks and whites, a fact overlooked – and in many cases – never thought about by many.
Dr. Nkrumah saw realizing the marriage between Africans in the Diaspora and those on the continent as his mission. It is a difficult marriage, but a marriage of necessity. He envisioned Africans in the Diaspora being brought back to the African continent and using knowledge gained as slaves building the white man’s world.
In this modern context we should all applaud this gallant effort by Ex-President John D. Mahama.
My rallying cry in the 12 years I lived in Ghana was that ‘it’s better to see Africa once, than to hear about it a thousand times.’ This was my push to engage Africans from the Diaspora to travel, live, work and do business on the African continent. Ex-President Mahama stood on the shoulders of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and later the founder of his (NDC) party Jerry John Rawlings, in reaching out to Africans in the Diaspora to visit.
Early 1986 in Accra Jerry John Rawlings, then the chairman of the PNDC Military government asked Minister Louis Farrakhan: “Brother Farrakhan, do you have an office in Africa? The answer from Minister Farrakhan was no. Then Rawlings said, “Why don’t you open one for Africa, here in Ghana?”
Thirty-one years later we’re looking at Ghana, which I project will be the first of many countries opening their doors to dual citizenship for Africans in the Diaspora. As America prepares to accept a new President Donald J. Trump, a man who has said little or nothing about the continent of a billion people and what would be his Africa policy. There are many rumors and half truths on the internet about disparaging remarks he said about the African people – none I care to repeat here – in the age of fake news stories.
However many forward thinking African churches, mosques, business organizations, and educational institutions see that there is hope in the relationship that W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Delany, Marcus Garvey and others advocated with our home continent. We must take advantage of the tremendous wealth and potential this great continent has.
For those of us blessed to receive dual citizenship with Ghana, we have the responsibility to spread this word and help open the doors in all 54 African countries. Those of us who have struggled over the years and are in our twilight must pass this baton on and encourage the Black millennial generation as they are called to get involved.