By Taalib Saber
Ghana has always been dubbed the “Gateway to Africa,” and rightly so. From its geographical location on the West Coast to its warm greetings from the people, even down to the relatively low instances of civil wars, Ghana has always welcomed those who visit. For people of African descent in America though, Ghana has a special place in our minds and hearts.
In addition to many of us having a direct lineage to Ghana through our bloodlines, Ghana has been at the forefront of “Pan-Africanism”, or the unification of African people throughout the world. In the late 1800s, when colonization throughout Africa was running rampant, Nana Yaa Asantewaa, the fierce Asante warrior and Queen Mother, infamously stated, “If the men of Asante will not go forward, then [the women] will.” And that she did. Asantewaa would lead an estimated 20,000 soldiers in their resistance against British occupation, until her capture in 1896.
Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, ensured that his nation would be allies and assist with the Black struggle of people of African descent born in the United States. Not only did Nkrumah study in the United States at Lincoln University and University of Pennsylvania in 1930s and 1940s but he also studied the philosophies and teachings of Marcus Garvey and witnessed racism upfront, which helped to develop his ideologies toward blackness, nationalism and Pan-Africanism. Before Ghana’s independence, Africa was projected solely as a dark, inferior, underdeveloped continent. Nkrumah’s presidency helped to change that narrative and cultivate leaders such as Congo’s Patrice Lumumba, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau’s Amilcar Cabral, and to give confidence and inspiration to African people all over the world.
During his time in power, he invited W.E.B. Du Bois to work on his Encyclopedia Africana, met with Malcolm X several times, hosted Martin Luther King, Jr. at Ghana’s independence celebration, and employed Kwame Ture (nee Stokley Carmichael) and others to work in his administration. Needless to say, he left a tremendous impact on our movements.As recently as 2019, President Nana Akufo-Addo, during his “Year of Return” campaign, offered special land deals and an easier pathway to citizenship for Black people who wanted to live in Ghana as a way for us to return to the motherland. Due to the political and social climate of the United States towards Black people, several American citizens, including the Grammy award winning musician Stevie Wonder, have answered the call of the Ghanaian president, electing not to face extrajudicial killings, racism, and second-class citizenship.
So, as we approach the 64th year of Ghana’s independence, let us celebrate what this great nation has meant to us historically in our fight for freedom and independence as a collective of African people.
Happy Birthday, Ghana!
Taalib Saber is the principal attorney at The Saber Firm, LLC, where he practices Education and Special Education Law, Civil and Human Rights, and Personal Injury Law. He is also a filmmaker. Lastly, Saber is a staunch pan-african community activist and organizer in DC, Maryland, and various countries in West, East and South Africa.
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