The “Year of Return” held in 2019 was a major landmark marketing campaign targeting the African – American and Diaspora Market to mark 400 years of the first enslaved African arriving in Jamestown Virginia.
The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture led the project in collaboration with the Office of Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the President, the Panafest Foundation and the Adinkra Group of USA.
The Year of Return sought to make Ghana the focus for millions of African descendants tracing their ancestry and identity. By this, Ghana became the beacon for African people living on the continent and the diaspora.
But while the success of the Year of Return programme is celebrated, it is worth mentioning that it didn’t happen in a vacuum. A number of personalities had made ample contributions for the achievement of this feat.
According to Maulana Maulana, a human rights activist and founder of Ministry of Future, the Year of Return was achieved through the “Right of Return” project which had been fronted by the likes of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois, C.L.R. James, George Pademore, Malcolm X, Founder of PANAFEST - Dr. Efua Southernland, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana among many others.
He mentioned that in1992, African American activist, Sista Imakus and late husband Nana Ben, Nana Kwawdo Akpan 1 (1993) of Fiankra, Dr. Maulana Maulana (1990), and Debra Kofi (1994) presented to Ghana government a petition to grant Ghanaian citizenship to African Americans who had lost their roots.
He mentioned that a number of events heralded The Year of Return project. From August 9-13, 1999, the first International Conference - African World Reparations & Repatriation Truth was held at Dubois Centre.
On December 28, 2016, the Ghana Citizenship Grant for African Diaspora led by Dr. Maulana Maulana's and Hon. Nii Kwesi Quartey, then Executive Secretary to former President John Dramani Mahama pushed for the grant.
At the time, Dr. Maulana Maulana's believed Ghana had moral obligation to “African Descendants of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.”
“This is evidenced by the fact, Ghana, formerly, the Gold Coast, during the 400 years Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, had 46 Slave Forts apart from the total of 66 Slave Forts along the Slave Coast.
“Europeans constructed Slave Forts, beginning in Senegal down to Angola. There were a total of 66 Slave Forts built and the Gold Coast (Ghana) had 46 of them.
“Also, African American Diaspora has a multi-trillion dollar economy within the USA, and could bring added value to Ghana's economy, if Ghanaian Citizenship was granted to the African Diaspora, including Afro-Caribbeans,” he said.
Ghana is first African country to grant citizenship to people of African descent successfully championed by Dr Maulana and his Ministry of Future.
Genesis of 'Year of Return' 2019
As part of his commitments to the return of African Americans, Dr Maulana Maulana gave a key note address at the 2017 Emancipation Day Ceremony at Assin Manso where he empahisized his point of granting Ghanaian citizenship to African Americans who were coming to Ghana.
With the New Patriotic Party (NPP) taking over power in 2017 after winning the 2016 elections, H. E. Nana Dankwa Addo Akufo - Addo, invited Dr. Maulana Maulana for deliberations.
In 2018, he submitted 232 MOF Citizenship Applications of "African Descendants of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade" but 126 "African Descendants of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade" received Ghanaian Citizenship Certificates on November 27, 2019 at the President Banquet Hall, Jubilee House.
Profile of Dr.Maulana Maulana
Dr. Maulana Maulana is a scientist and a researcher with interest in people of African descent.
“I believe that Ghanaians are the people spoken of in the Bible (Genesis - 36 vs. 27). West African citizens and by extension, "African Descendants of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade" migrated here from The Middle East via Tigris and Euphrates Rivers Basin. I use research of language and culture to support this claims of the migration,” he said.
He runs a Non-Governmental Organisation which has assisted over 300 blacks across the world to secure Ghanaian Citizenship from 2016 to 2019.