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Wednesday 7 December 2022
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African Governments Should Make It Easier for African Americans to Become Citizens

By Kofi Quaye

 

kofi_quayeIncreasing numbers of African-Americans, and others of African lineage from around the globe, have embraced the notion that repatriating to Africa is a far better option than to continuing to live in countries in North America, the Caribbean, and Europe where they have been made to feel like second class citizens.

They may have been subjected to acts of brutality, perpetrated by police and other law enforcement authorities who were supposed to have been protecting them, or faced the possibility of getting killed for any action deemed by the police to warrant a response using deadly force.

The recent incidents of fatal shootings of African-Americans in cities across America hav justified those concerns.

And, for many African-Americans, repatriating to Africa has provided the opportunity to make a bold statement. Essentially, they have been proclaiming to the world they are taking the final, and ultimate, step of redemption, and returning to the land of their ancestors.

Unlike immigrants, who have left their native countries, withthe intention of returning home after a certain period, repatriating to Africa, by African-Americans, and others of African lineage, is not just a change of environment, to explore the potential of setting up a business, or pursuing a career.

They have made the move with the intent, and feeling, that they have gone “home” to countries in Africa, where they plan to live for the rest of their lives.

They have, for all intents and purposes, relinquished their citizenships in the countries in which they have been born, and have expected to be made citizens of the African countries in which they’ve settled.

It is a unique homecoming, an act of immense spiritual, and cultural, significance.

Those who have repatriated, or are planning to do so, know they will be re-connecting with the continent, and people, from which they had been “stolen,” according to Empress, an African-American formerly of New York, who is now based in Johannesburg.

She repatriated to Africa several years ago, and briefly lived in Ghana.

One would assume for African-Americans, and others of African lineage from elsewhere around the globe, repatriating to Africa would be warmly and spontaneously embraced, and they would be made to feel welcome by the African people, and governments.

They certainly deserve to be received, welcomed, and celebrated for making the decision to repatriate to Africa.

They leave behind family, friends and all the conveniences of the advanced lifestyles in the countries in which they were born and bred.

And, I would have no reason to believe otherwise.

As far as I’ve known, and from my own personal experiences, African-Americans, and others of African lineage who have returned to African countries, for whatever reason, have been shown genuine love, appreciation, and respect by the African people, and their governments.

In fact, I used to say, and still do, that African-Americans, and others of African lineage, are treated like kings and queens when they go to Africa.

However, that’s not quite accurate, one of my colleagues said, recently, when we discussed the subject of the emergence of a number of organizations on FACEBOOK, and other social media, that have been created by people purporting to provide support, and assistance, to those repatriating to Africa.

My colleague is also a New York state resident, who has made up his mind to repatriate from New York, to an African country. In fact, he has made substantial progress, and is in the final stages of his plans to repatriate to Africa.

However, according to my colleague, African governments have made it difficult, if not impossible, for African-Americans, and others of African lineage, to repatriate to African countries. They have made policies that have basically hindered, and even disqualified, returning African-Americans from becoming citizens of African countries.

“How?” I asked, making no attempt to hide my surprise, and disbelief.

It would run counter to everything I had known, seen, and personally experienced about African-Americans, and others of African lineage, to find out they had been received by Africans.

As a result, I argued the people of Africa had been celebrated around the world for their hospitality toward foreigners, and are known to go out of their way in order to make them feel welcome.

I even cited my own firsthand experience.

Many years ago, before I immigrated to the U.S., I shared an apartment in Accra, the capital of Ghana, with a number of African-Americans who had come to study, or just visit.

I stated that, back in the day, my generation of Ghanaians had definitely made an effort to reach out to African-Americans, hang out with them, and help them navigate the cultural terrain, all as part of the process of making them feel at home.

On the contrary, my colleague countered that may be the case at the level of individuals interacting with each other.

But, he said governmental policies, as they currently exist, have made it impossible for African-Americans, and others of African lineage, to become citizens in most African countries.

To provide me with further evidence, he called the African-American woman named Empress in Johannesburg, South Africa, turned on the speaker, and asked the following question: “Are African-Americans allowed to become citizens in African countries?”

Her response was an emphatic, “No.”

She elaborated, and provided me with more details about her own experiences, and those of her colleagues. She basically reiterated the fact that African-Americans have faced huge problems when they have tried to become citizens of the African countries in which they’ve settled.

I am still incredulous, and find it hard to believe that such policies exist in African countries.

It makes no sense for African-Americans, and others of African lineage, to be denied the privilege of becoming citizens of African countries, especially if Europeans have seemed to encounter no obstacles.

I am inclined to believe it may represent the viewpoint of a militant minority of African-Americans, who may like African governments to enact ideologically-progressive policies, which would make it easier for them to become citizens in African countries.

However, I am still searching for answers.

Regardless, African-Americans would have every reason to feel frustrated, angry, and even remorseful, if it is indeed true that governmental policies in African countries have made it difficult for them to become citizens in African countries.

The first African country to enact a policy which would make the pathway to citizenship easier, my colleague said, would reap huge financial, economic, social, and political benefits.

These new citizens would bring in expertise and knowledge in different areas, funds, and contribute to the overall development of the countries in which they have settled.

I am inclined to agree with him, but the pathway to citizenship has to be made easier for them, if it has not been already.