Stevie Wonder given Ghanaian citizenship after celebrating his ...

15 May 2024
Stevie Wonder

The multi-award winner said he plans to engage in initiatives that will create great job opportunities for Ghana's youth.

After celebrating his 74th birthday, music icon Stevie Wonder was given Ghanaian citizenship.

Flanked by his family and donning a scarf made of traditional kente cloth, Wonder was visibly delighted to finally become Ghanaian.

This was at a ceremony in the presidential palace where he was also presented with a birthday cake with a Ghanaian flag iced on top.

“For years I’ve talked about being in Ghana. I started talking about it in 1973 when I first came, the first time I felt the essence of it as if I had been here before. I said this is where I need to be,” Wonder told the BBC.

“By conferring Ghanaian citizenship on him, we not only recognise his immense talent and achievements but also acknowledge his deep connection to the African continent and his tireless efforts to promote unity, solidarity and cultural exchange among all peoples of African descent,” Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo said at the ceremony.

The musician said he plans to engage in initiatives that will create great job opportunities for Ghana’s youth, who make up roughly 38% of the population.

“The youngest generation is in Africa. We need to begin to think about how their greatness can shine,” he said.

Wonder was recently bestowed an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at Lincoln University.

“I have been able to see so many things with my heart you can never look at. I can see with the vision of the spirit. I will always write songs about how we can love better,” said the 25-time Grammy Awards winner in his speech at the graduation ceremony.

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Diaspora’s desperation for citizenship

Ghana’s interior ministry said Wonder becoming a citizen “marks a significant milestone in the country’s efforts to attract diasporan Africans and recognise outstanding contributions to the African diaspora”.

In 2001, Ghana became the first nation on the continent to give the descendants of Africans the right to stay.

In 2019 the Ghanaian government launched the “Year of Return” initiative to encourage Africans in the diaspora to relocate there.

This was to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded enslaved Africans in the State of Virginia in the United States.

More than 300 Africans in the diaspora have been granted Ghanaian citizenship since.

Actor Samuel L. Jackson holds a Gabonese passport and rapper Ludacris, whose wife is from the country, also has a passport.

In May 2019, the American comedian and actress became a full citizen of Eritrea, the birthplace of her father. Similarly, actor Idris Elba was given the citizenship of his father’s native Sierra Leone.

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