President Akufo-Addo presenting a passport to Steve Wonder to indicate his citizenship at a ceremony at the Jubilee House. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
President Akufo-Addo presenting a passport to Steve Wonder to indicate his citizenship at a ceremony at the Jubilee House. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO

Stevie Wonder conferred with Ghanaian citizenship

Stevland Hardaway Morris, the American songwriter, musician and record producer, otherwise known as Stevie Wonder, yesterday became a Ghanaian in fulfilment of a 50-year-old dream.

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He swore an oath at the Jubilee House in Accra, administered by Circuit Court judge, Kizita Naa Koowaa Quarshie, to respect and protect the Constitution of Ghana with the help of God, with the Bible in hand.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo handed the global icon and philanthropist with a certificate of citizenship and a Ghanaian passport to symbolise the conferment of citizenship.

Mr Wonder was then assisted to sit on an ‘asesedwa’ — a native Ghanaian stool — and presented with a kente cloth. It was all joy and excitement at the short and impressive ceremony that marked the birthdays of Mr Wonder and his son.

They were both assisted to cut a cake made in the colours of Ghana’s red, gold and green.

Blind

Visibly elated, the visually impaired musician said: “Mr President, I thank you for the heart of understanding that the only way that the world can move forward is that we come together as one people”.

“I celebrate that spirit. What is unfortunate is that too many people are too blind to see it. But I know that it is just a heart’s beat away,” he added. Mr Wonder noted that for over 50 years, he had thought about acquiring Ghanaian citizenship and that “the truth is, as a Ghanaian citizen, being a part of fulfilling the dream we have had for so many years of bringing people of Africa and those of the diaspora, USA and Caribbean together”.

“So, it is only fitting for us to bring our children together, all of the colours and all that,” he stated. He said he had never seen the colours but had seen the colours of people through their hearts and “I want us to come together as one people”.

Mr Wonder expressed the belief that there would be, one day, a national holiday for Dr Martin Luther King, adding: “I do believe that we will have a united people of the world.”

The ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’ hitmaker joins the league of missionaries, policemen, lawyers, health workers, writers, artists, musicians, including the likes of George Padmore, Rita Marley, Maya Angelou and W. E. B. du Bois, who became Ghanaian citizens.

Recognition

President Akufo-Addo said conferring Ghanaian citizenship on him was a recognition of his immense talent, achievements and deep connection to the African continent, as well as his tireless efforts to promote unity, solidarity and cultural exchanges among all peoples of African descent.

“His decision to become a citizen of Ghana is a testament to his profound respect and admiration for our nation's history, culture and values,” he added. President Akufo-Addo said welcoming Stevie Wonder into the Ghanaian family must inspire the people to his legacy and strive to build a future where creativity flourished, diversity was celebrated and the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood transcended all differences.

He stated that his welcome represented a vivid manifestation of the goals of the Year of Return, which we commemorated in 2019, as a bridge between the African peoples on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Today’s ceremony brings starkly to mind a favourite and oft-cited statement of the famous Jamaican reggae star, Peter Tosh, who once said quite rightly, ‘don't care where you come from, as long as you're a black man, you're an African’,” President Akufo-Addo stated.

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