Posted on June 22, 2020

After George Floyd, Ghana’s Simple Message to African Americans: “Come Home”

Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu, Quartz, June 20, 2020

As a series of protests and events to mark the life of George Floyd began in Minneapolis earlier this month, a memorial was being held 10,000 kilometers away in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

Attended by government representatives and a small socially-distanced group of African Americans living in Ghana, the memorial was held in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and Floyd. {snip}

Ghana has long courted the descendants of enslaved Africans to “return home” as tourists or to permanently resettle. Leading African American icons including Martin Luther King Jr, Maya Angelou, Muhammad Ali, and Malcolm X have either visited or lived in the country since independence in 1957.


At the memorial and wreath-laying ceremony for Floyd, the minister of tourism, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, re-echoed the government’s message to African Americans to “Come home.”


Even before the memorial, Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, had condemned Floyd’s killing and called for justice. “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,” he said in a statement.


The government declared 2019 as the “Year of Return,” to commemorate 400 years since the anchoring of an English ship in Jamestown, Virginia carrying a small group of enslaved Africans. The Congressional Black Caucus, rapper Ludacris, television presenter Steve Harvey, and the prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, were some of the high profile visitors that traveled to the country last year as part of the Year of Return’s activities.

Last November, Akufo-Addo hosted a naturalization ceremony at the presidential palace, where over 100 African Americans and Afro-Carribeans, who have lived in the country for some time, became citizens. The granting of citizenship gives an added force to the country’s Right of Abode law which was passed in 2001. That law gives anybody of African ancestry in the Americas the right to stay in Ghana indefinitely.