“Great day in Accra! Wednesday 28th December 2016. Signing of the Diasporan Citizenship Act at the WEB Dubois Centre in the presence of outgoing President John Mahama.
Huge gathering in a spacious hall at the Centre. At least 400 splendidly dressed African dignitaries and returnees from the Diaspora. Massive Rastafari presence adding colour, quality and poignancy to the occasion. Songs of Bob Marley fill the auditorium as the expectant crowd awaits the President’s arrival: Redemption Song, Africa Unite, Exodus, etc., setting hearts a-flutter as eyes grow misty with historical remembrance.
The President arrives amid great applause. National Anthem from the Police Band. Opening Prayer. Speeches. The occasion is livicated to Marcus Garvey (Black Star), WEB Dubois, Kwame Nkrumah, Martin Luther King, Bob Marley. Now, at last, their hopes and aspirations for Africa’s redemption were being fulfilled in reality. President Mahama in his address described the Slave Trade as “the most evil act” perpetrated by human beings against their fellowmen and women. He recalled seeing Alex Hayley’s “Roots” as a young student, and being moved to tears at the horrors suffered by Kunta Kinte and his fellows, torn from the bosom of mother Africa and taken in chains to a life of torture in the West. Today, he said, the “Door of No return” has become the”Door of Return!” There were loud hoots of approval and ululation from the crowded auditorium. Many were moved to tears.
He made mention of the many forts and castles that lined the Ghanaian coast and the chapels that were constructed above the dungeons in which captive Africans were held in atrocious conditions.
Elder Dr Malauna, a revered long-term returnee activist spoke of not merely history, but prophecy being fulfilled. He quoted Genesis 15, Vs 13 and 14, Matthew 21 Vs 42.
Others re-intoned the words of Martin Luther King in which he promised that future generations would see the blessed land – even if he did not get there himself. “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God we’re free at last!”
A ‘first batch’ of 34 diasporans were solemnly sworn in at the close of the ceremony and awarded certificates of citizenship. Among them were several Rastafari brethren and sistren, notably Ras Byron (music producer) and his wife, who have lived in Cape Coast for at least a decade. Honoured guests included Samia Nkrumah, Ghanaian MP and daughter of the late great Kwame Nkrumah. Other key players were Ambassadors Kwesi Kwartey and Dr Erica Barnett who were highly commended for their roles in bringing this Act to pass.
It seems that the long-awaited gate of Repatriation is now open. Ghana welcomes (it was said) her long-separated brethren and sistren from the Diaspora who can return with skills to help build Africa in the great design presaged by its mighty advocates, its legendary Mother and Father figures.
I felt truly privileged to be part of this historic event, which came out of the Joseph Project (2007) and the many antecedent struggles for the right to return. Sceptics may say this was Mahama’s attempt to secure a lasting legacy. He vacates his office on 7th January 2017. But his public pronouncements cannot be revoked. The pressure will be maintained to ensure that the promises enshrined in this belated but timely Act are adhered to in full, are replicated throughout Africa, and accelerated in this crucial UN Decade for African Descendants.
The event augurs well for 2017 and beyond. As it is the Will of His Imperial Majesty and Empress Menen, so may it bring mutual blessings to the sundered families of Africans at home and abroad.
One perfect love”