Thirty-four members of the African-Caribbean diaspora in the country have been granted Ghanaian citizenship following the approval of the President John Dramani Mahama.
At a ceremony in Accra yesterday to formalise the process, the 37 people were made to swear an oath of allegiance to the country to that effect.
Presenting certificates of citizenship to them, Mr Mahama said their naturalization made them entitled to every privilege deserving and due any Ghanaian.
He said he was optimistic that the skills and knowledge acquired by the naturalized Ghanaians would contribute immensely to the development of the country.
“ You have expressed so much gratitude to me and other stakeholders for the opportunity given you today, but I do not think you have to thank me because I have only restored to you what rightfully belongs to you and was painfully taken away” he said .
Mr Mahama said in giving them the opportunity to become Ghanaians, he was only following the footsteps of our forebears, including Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore , Dr W.E. B Du Bois and Martin Luther king, who led and gave a foundation to Pan-Africanism.
He said Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain its independence, and had since become and would continue to be the headquarters for the fight for African liberation and the beacon of African emancipation.
He expressed the hope that the introduction of Africans applying for visa on arrival in Ghana would be extended to Africans in the diaspora to facilitate their visit and stay in Ghana to contribute to national development.
Oath of allegiance
In his remarks, the Minister of the Interior, Mr Prosper Bani, said the naturalized Ghanaians were now free to acquire Ghanaian passports and any other national document that identified them as Ghanaians.
“I wish to assure you that the Ministry of the Interior will give you the needed assistance to acquire those documents,” he said.
Mr Bani expressed the hope that the naturalised Ghanaians would continue to owe allegiance to the country, particularly in their deeds and support the development of the country.
He, however, appealed to them to be law abiding because the acquisition of the Ghanaian citizenship has conditions, which included lawfully revoking the citizenship in accordance with section 18 of the citizenship act of 2000( Act 591).
He said the President’s approval of the citizenship of these persons was a demonstration of the Pan-African spirit, following in the steps of Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore and Dr W.E. B Du Bois that Pan-Africanism remained an integral part of Ghana’s foreign policy.
Mr Bani applauded the efforts of all who had contributed to the successful emancipation and reintegration of Africans in the diaspora back to their roots, giving particular recognition to Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey.
“ Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, in 2004, as the then Minister of Tourism, organised an international conference on the theme, International Conference on the Transatlantic slave-trade, Legacies and Expectations; which provided the inspiration to envision the return of Africans in the Diaspora ,” he said.
Mr Bani said Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey also initiated a project dubbed the “Joseph Project” in 2007 which sought to practicalise the act of healing , forgiveness, reconciliation and rapprochement between Africans in Africa and those in the diaspora.
He acknowledged that the efforts of Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey and other pan-Africanist were yielding the desired results.
On behalf of the persons who were granted Ghanaian citizenship, Ambassador Dr Erieka Bennett expressed gratitude to the President, Mr Mahama, for the honour done them, and pledged their commitment to remain responsible citizens of the country.
To show their appreciation, they presented a memento to Mr Mahama.