Ghana’s pioneering role in Pan Africanism, her continuing quest to position the country as headquarters for diaspora Africans and the recent launch by President Akufo Addo of the ‘Year of Return’ programme to mark 400th anniversary of slave trade are yielding touristic benefits.
A number of key diaspora Africans in the United States, South America, Europe and the Caribbean have, since the ‘Year of Return’ launch in Washington, been making contact with the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture and the Ghana Tourism Authority, expressing interest in the monthly year-long programme scheduled for a number of venues in Ghana.
The latest to respond is American Academy Award winner, Louis Cameron Gossett Jr. universally acknowledged for his role as Sergeant Emil Foley in the 1982 film, ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’. He was the first African-American male to win an Oscar in a supporting role, the second black male to win for acting, and the third African-American actor to win overall.
The big screen actor, noted for his other roles in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’, ‘The Deep’ and ‘Jaws 3-D’, is expected in Accra on Friday, November 30 for what a member of the Ghana-based Diaspora African Forum describes a “private visit”.
The forum will host a welcome reception in his honour at the Du Bois Centre in Accra on Saturday.
Ghana is the first to host an AU Embassy for Diaspora Africa, with a full-fledged ambassador recognized by the AU. Indeed, Ghana has the largest population of diaspora Africans living in its territory, numbering over 5,000, from North and South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe.
Ambassador Erika Bennett, Head of Mission of the Diaspora African Forum, praised President Akufo Addo under who, as Ghana’s Foreign Minister in the Kufuor Administration, signed the protocols that secured the diplomatic status recognized by the African Unity
“Ghana has been of tremendous support to our cause,” she said, adding: “Among us, diaspora Africans, Ghana is considered the most Pan African country on the continent”
About the visiting Academy Award winning actor, Dr Bennet said he had been on tremendous support to the Forum. “As a matter of fact, Louis Cameron Gossett Jr is on our board,” she said.
Reacting to the news, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, Mrs Catherine Abelema Afeku, said the Year of Return had a spiritual component.
“When you have the elders in the diaspora such as Louis, then you know the African resilient spirit is real. I do look forward to welcoming him home,” she added.
Meanwhile Rabbi Kohain, Executive Director of the PANAFEST Foundation has, on behalf of people of African descent in the diaspora appealed to the Government of Ghana to expedite action on the Right of Abode law that will qualify people of African descent to make Ghana their home.
Section 17(1) of the Immigration Act 2000, Act 573 provides that a person having the right of abode “shall be free to live and to come and go into and from the country without let or hindrance”. Among the category of people who qualify to apply are “persons of African descent in the Diaspora”.
Speaking to the media in Accra on behalf of diaspora Africans, however, Rabbi said the Right of Abode concept had been on the books for almost 20 years mainly because of difficulties having to do with the “technical details of making anyone qualify for it.”
That, he said, was why it was important for the Government to take a look at the qualifications and come up with the necessary amendments that would make the law more accessible to diasporans desirous of making Ghana their home. Rabbi has lived continuously in Ghana for 25 years. He obtained his Ghanaian citizenship two years ago.
He emphasized: “We are not coming here as any other foreigners or aliens. We are not former colonizers as the British, French or Germans. We are the sons and daughters of Africa. So as the sons and daughters of Africa we should not have to go through the same impediments as some other people who come and want to naturalize or become a citizen of a nation they were not born in.”