Ghana is sending a message to African-Americans in the midst of the unrest in the United States following the death of George Floyd: “Come home.”
The African nation held a wreath-laying ceremony on June 5 in honor of Floyd, who died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for roughly nine minutes during an arrest.
During the ceremony, the minister of tourism, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, said that the country’s arms are open and they are “ready to welcome you home.”
“We continue to open our arms and invite all our brothers and sisters home. Ghana is your home. Africa is your home. We have our arms wide open, ready to welcome you home,” Oteng-Gyasi said.
“Please take advantage. Come home, build a life in Ghana. You do not have to stay where you are not wanted forever. You have a choice and Africa is waiting for you.”
In a statement prior to the ceremony, Ghana’s president called for justice for Floyd.
“We stand with our kith and kin in America in these difficult and trying times, and we hope that the unfortunate, tragic death of George Floyd will inspire a lasting change in how America confronts head on the problems of hate and racism,” President Nana Akufo-Addo said.
— Nana Akufo-Addo (@NAkufoAddo) June 1, 2020
To commemorate 400 years since the first ship anchored in Jamestown, Virginia, carrying a small group of enslaved Africans, Ghana declared 2019 the “Year of Return,” Quartz Africa reported.
During this time, people of African descent were encouraged to make the “birthright journey home for the global African family.”
Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus were among those who made the trip.
Ghana’s history in the trans-Atlantic slave trade has complicated movements like the “Year of Return” and 2020’s postponed event, “Beyond The Return.”
“There is a willful amnesia about the roles that we played in the slave trade,” local historian and former Accra mayor Nat Amarteifio told The World.
In the 1400s, the Portuguese heard about the gold in the region and showed up with guns for intimidation.
There was already a domestic slave trade in Ghana when the Portuguese arrived, but slaves had some rights and opportunities, unlike in America.
“The system already existed,” Arteifio said. “The Europeans saw it. And thought: ‘Ah, we can try these people in our lands in the New World.'”
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