Ghana’s President invites Vincentians to visit homeland (+Video)
by Bria King
Business opportunities and breathtaking views are just a few of the things that Ghana has to offer to African descendants in the Caribbean who dare to make the journey to the African country in the “Year of Return”.
Ghana’s president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said this during his visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) on Wednesday as part of his Caribbean tour.
While here, the president spoke about the “Year of Return”, which welcomes all Africans in the Diaspora, including descendants of enslaved people who were forcibly transported to the Americas.
“Right from the day when Ghana got her freedom and independence from Britain’s colonial rule on the 6th March, 1957…we’ve always seen ourselves as owing a special responsibility to Africans in the Diaspora,” he said during a special sitting of Parliament.
He said the African Union recognises Africans in the Diaspora as the sixth region in the African Union.
And the president said that while these people’s history may have originated from slavery, Africans’ contribution to the development of the Caribbean and the Americas is matchless.
President Akufo-Addo declared Ghana “open for business”, saying that there are business opportunities for people willing to invest in a fast-growing economy.
“We are particularly keen to open up our country and spread industries across its length and breadth. This is the rationale for government’s one district, one factory policy which is gaining more and more traction as we seek to add value to the resources that are spread throughout our country,” he said.
He said that while Ghana has not made as much progress as it wants to in the 62 years of independence, institutions are becoming more reliable and they are “building an economy that will stand the test of time”.
The Ghanaian president said Ghana is among the safest countries in the West African region and he welcomes all Africans to come in this “Year of Return”.
“We want to use this Year of Return as a bridge to build stronger ties between Ghana, those of us on the continent and the African Diaspora…Africa is your home and Ghana will be happy to serve as a bridge between the Diaspora and the African continent,” he said.
During his visit, the President of Ghana also delivered a short address at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) campus on the theme “The historical linkages between Ghana, Africa and the Caribbean, as Ghana celebrates the ‘Year of Return’ to commemorate 400 years since the first slaves left Ghana for the Americas”.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves extended welcome to Akufo-Addo, who is the first president from an African nation to address the local Parliament.
“Your excellency, our Caribbean of which St Vincent and the Grenadines is part, represents a core component of the African Diaspora which has been declared by the African Union to be the sixth region of Africa, a nexus forged by history and the contemporary realities of the global, political economy,” Gonsalves said.
The prime minister also urged persons to support the “Year of Return”.
He said African enslavement and transportation to the “New World” caused underdevelopment in Africa and the Caribbean and it has persisted throughout the years and fuels the just demands of reparations.
Gonsalves said that his government has sought to strengthen relations with the African Union since 2001 and he has made addresses there on three occasions.
“Your presence in our parliament today Mr President is a magnificent gift to our Caribbean civilisation and to St Vincent and the Grenadines. I am absolutely certain that His Excellency’s official visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines, following up on my visit to your great country, will further cement the unbreakable ties of friendship between our two countries,” he said.
Opposition leader, Dr Godwin Friday also spoke at Wednesday’s special sitting.
“What we are doing here today by strengthening ties that have a deep history is writing a chapter with a more positive and hopeful story, a story that says for us as an enduring theme that out of great injustice and unimaginable enforced human suffering, we in the Caribbean have created for ourselves distinctive societies that defy our tragic beginnings of slavery and colonial conflicts and strive to be good examples of what just and peace loving nations can be,” the opposition leader said.
Friday welcomed the presence of Ghana’s president and said that he looked forward to the continued friendship and support between both countries.
Other activities for President Akufo-Addo included a tree-planting ceremony at the Botanic Gardens, meeting with Ghanaian nationals living in SVG and a private meeting with Prime Minister Gonsalves before attending a press briefing.
The president departed the island yesterday to continue his Caribbean tour.