President Akufo Addo has pledged his government’s determination to grant the wish of Africans in the Diaspora for easy visas to Ghana and their right to make the country their land of abode.
He said his government had made it a national priority to welcome home Africans in the Diaspora categorized both as Ghanaians living abroad and people of African descent dispersed throughout the world as a result of the Trans Atlantic slave trade.
“In the year 2019, we opened our arms even wider to welcome home our brothers and sisters in what will become a birthright journey home for the global African family,” the President declared at a ceremony at the US National Press Club to launch the ‘Right of Return’, a programme put together by the Ghana Tourism Authority under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to mark 400-year anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the United States.
With the Washington universal launch, Ghana is thus empowered to proceed with its intention to undertake activities throughout the year 2019 to commemorate the event.
President Akufo Addo signed a Proclamation to mark the historic event.
The President recalled Ghana’s early Pan African leadership role and pledged that “under my leadership, Ghana will continue to ensure that our hard-won Pan African reputation is not lost. Making Ghana the focus of activities to commemorate the landing of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies in North America is, therefore, a huge opportunity to entrench Ghana’s leadership”.
He eulogized the role played by the late Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey who as Tourism Minister in the Kufuor administration, launched the ‘Joseph Project’, symbolizing the extension of an arm of brotherhood by present day Continental Africa to call back home, descendants of Africans who were enslaved and therefore find themselves in North, Central and South America.
He dedicated the world launch to the memory of the late Minister, mentioning his (Jake’s) wish to see the ‘Right of Abode’ immigration programme become law and his determination to grant easy visas to Africans in the Diaspora.
Mrs Catherine Abelema Afeku, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, assured all Africans in the Diaspora that her Ministry was working tirelessly with the Ministry of the Foreign Affairsto ensure their smooth passage back to continental Africa.
Mr Akwasi Agyemang, Chief Executive of Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) situated the ‘Right of Return’ within the context of the Christian Bible in which the people of biblical Israel were promised a return to their rightful land after 400 years in exile.
Other speakers were Ghana’s Ambassador to the US, Dr Adjei Bawuah; Rabbi Kohein, Executive Director of the PANAFEST Foundation; Mr Diallo Sumbry, director of the Adinkra Group, the brains behind the Right of Return programme; Sheila Jackson Lee, an African American Congresswoman and Gina Paige, co-founder and president of African Ancestry.com.
Among those present were Mr Akwasi Awua Ababio, chair of the Right of Return Planning Committee; Mr Reginald Laryea of Media Majique and Research Systems who doubles as vice chair of the planning committee and Dr James Miles, president of the Diaspora African Forum.