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Year of Return: Promised Citizenship Unfulfilled

A year ago, this month, my phone rang late in the evening. It was a call I had been waiting for.

Several months prior, I had filled out an application for Ghanaian citizenship.

The diasporan community had been advised that the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, was planning to grant Ghanaian citizenship to diasporans wanting to gain citizenship as part of the Year of Return festivities.

We were all very excited to learn of this opportunity as the Ministry of Interior (MoI) route to citizenship is costly and unnecessarily cumbersome and time-consuming.

The phone call was asking me to come to the Jubilee House for the citizenship interview. Of course, I could make it!

I hired a car and left Elmina early in the morning to be there at the appointed time. Upon arrival, we were placed in a waiting room. A staff member collected our passports to make copies for their records.

We were then moved to the screening room where the actual interviews took place.

Members of the interview team included representatives from the Office of Diaspora Affairs, the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and the MoI.

Each applicant was called up individually to be interviewed with questions regarding how long we had been in Ghana, our family situation, where we were from etc.

After the interview, we were free to return to our respective homes. I learnt the interviews went on into September in additional sessions.

By October, word was that the President had approved all 232 applicants for citizenship. We all celebrated at the thought of becoming citizens of the country that had been so welcoming to us.

Then, the unexpected happened. There was a ceremony with the President at the Jubilee House but only about half of us were invited to attend.

It was a glorious event with many smiles, tears of joy, applause and grand speakers. I am happy for them all.

Now, many have moved on to the new initiative, Beyond the Return. Inviting diasporans to come and stay, invest, build businesses and buy land. Will this truly be the “Mecca of the global African family” if Ghana cannot keep her promises to those who come to be a part of that family?

My question remains, where do the over 100 of us who were promised citizenship fit into the picture? We had been told there would be two ceremonies but there were scheduling issues.

This should have been addressed in 2019 during the Year of Return. Now, COVID-19 is a likely excuse.

The fact of the matter is, we cannot begin to celebrate or invite anyone to Beyond the Return when the promises made to us for Ghanaian citizenship have not been realised.

We want our Ghanaian citizenship just as those who were invited to the ceremony with the President.

We want to share in the growth of Ghana and have pride in her strides not just as on-lookers but as Ghanaian citizens.

Source: Graphic Online

Classic Ghana

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