Demonstrations around the world in response to the police killing of George Floyd have sparked calls for change and the West African nation of Ghana has been no exception.
Tourism officials have a message for African Americans frustrated with the events of the past several months: “Come home.”
At a memorial and wreath laying ceremony in Accra, Ghana’s capital city last month dedicated to Floyd, tourism minister Barbara Oteng-Gyasi reportedly encouraged Black Americans and others throughout the diaspora to visit or even repatriate to the home continent of their ancestors.
“We continue to open our arms and invite all our brothers and sisters home. Ghana is your home. Africa is your home. We have our arms wide open, ready to welcome you home,” she said at the ceremony, according to GhanaWeb.com. “Please take advantage. Come home, build a life in Ghana. You have a choice and Africa is waiting for you.”
In 2019, Ghana’s tourism ministry completed a two-year campaign to encourage tourism by African Americans in what it billed as its “Year of Return.” People visited the nation, learned about Ghanian culture and customs. Many also visited historical sites like Cape Coast Castle, passing through its “door of no return,” symbolically returning a presence in the land 400 years after Africans were taken from its shores.
Many notable visitors made the trip in response to the call for people to come back, including several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, comedian Steve Harvey, rappers Cardi B and Ludicris, actor Idris Elba and many others. It culminated at the end of the year with several huge celebrations in Greater Accra and around the country.
Even before the wreath ceremony, Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo blasted police violence against Blacks, saying in a statement: “We stand with our kith and kin in America in these difficult and trying times, and we hope that the unfortunate, tragic death of George Floyd will inspire a lasting change in how America confronts head on the problems of hate and racism.”
In November, Addo hosted a ceremony in which about 100 African Americans and Black West Indians who had been living in Ghana became citizens of the country: A law passed by Ghanian parliament in 2001, called Right of Abode, allowed anyone of African ancestry living in the diaspora to repatriate and stay indefinitely, according to its Ministry of the Interior.