Ghana made 126 people from the diaspora its citizens as part of Year of Return celebrations
CNN  — 

Ghana made 126 foreign nationals who have lived in the country for many years it’s citizens as part of the country’s Year of Return celebrations.

Dressed in colorful traditional outfits and holding the country’s national flag on Wednesday, the group lifted their hands as they took their oath of allegiance and became the country’s citizens.

President Nana Akufo-Addo said those conferred with the citizenship join a generation of diasporans, including civil rights activist William Edward Burghardt “W.E.B.” Du Bois and American poet Maya Angelou who lived in the country.

Ghana's Year of Return wants people of African descent to return

“I am glad you have decided to make Ghana your home and thereby join several generations of Diasporans, who committed their lives to us,” the president said in a statement.

The event is part of a series of activities lined up this year for Ghana’s Year of Return marking 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America.

Launched in 2018, the campaign encourages people of African descent, whose ancestors were victims of the brutal slave trade, to return to Ghana. The government has been marketing its slave sites aggressively to African diasporans tracing their roots.

Akufo-Addo said that an estimated 75% of the slave dungeons on the west coast of Africa were in Ghana and the country recognizes its role. People were enslaved in these dungeons and then shipped from Ghanaian ports as part of the transatlantic trade.

“That is why we had a responsibility to extend a hand of ‘welcome back home’ to Africans in the diaspora. Many have responded to this call,” President Akufo-Addo said, adding that the initiative has been a learning experience for all.

The West African country has legislation such as the Right of Abode law of 2000 that allows people of African descent to apply for the right to stay in the country indefinitely while the Joseph Project, birthed in 2007, also wants Africans in the diaspora to return. Thirty-four African-Carribeans were granted citizenship in Ghana in 2016.