Great African-Americans Who Were Once In Ghana

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Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay’s) visit to Ghana in 1964: In the photo with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, first president of Ghana. 

Among all the West African countries, Ghana, the country formally called Gold Coast, is one of the famous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Apart from being one of the peaceful countries in West Africa, Ghana has been also one of the most visited countries in Africa by Africans in the Diaspora.

There is a reason Ghana is attracted to Africans in the Diaspora. Echoes of sad music in the air can be heard from Cape Coast, attracting thousands of tourists including African-Americans and other Africans in the Diaspora to visit Ghana, where their ancestors were packed like a sardine into ships for slavery.

Apart from the fact that many Africans in the Diaspora go to Ghana to trace their roots or find their ancestors, Ghana was once under one of Africa’s most powerful and intelligent leaders, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. He was the first African statesman to achieve world recognition when he became president of the new Republic of Ghana in 1960 after Ghana attains its independence in 1957.

He campaigned ceaselessly for African solidarity and for the liberation of southern Africa from white settler rule. His greatest achievement was to win the right of black peoples in Africa, to have a vote and to determine their own destiny. Nkrumah’s popularity which was like a bushfire in the dry season brought him fame and also created a lot of enemies against him.

Many famous African-Americans, including Malcolm X, W.E.B Du Bois, Stevie Wonder, Maya Angelou etc. were all in Ghana. In the summer of 1964, Muhammad Ali took a trip to Ghana, a remarkable visit the boxer called “a return to the fatherland.” In the VIP room of the Accra Airport, he was greeted by Ghana’s Foreign Minister Kojo Botsio. According to a report,  about 10,000 African Americans visit Ghana yearly, and almost 3,000 of them live in the capital, Accra.

On February 24th, 1966, Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup, master-minded by the CIA, after surviving many assassination attempts. He fled to the Republic of Guinea to be with his friend Sekou Touré for a number of years and spent his later years in exile in Bucharest, Romania and died on 27 April 1972.

The Significance Of Kente Cloth In Ghana

Kente cloth in Ghana

Ex-Ghanaian leader Jerry John Rawlings, ex-president Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton in Kente outfits.

Certain products lift the image of a country, as the sole manufacturer of that great product. Historically, traditionally and culturally, Kente products and wears have brought recognition to Ghana, through the history of the Ashanti history. Can we say then that Kente cloth originates from the Ashanti?

 

The tradition of Kente cloth is said to have been developed in the 17th century and stems from ancient Akan weaving techniques, dating as far back as the 11th century AD. The beautifully woven cloth even though is associated with the culture of the Ivory Coast; history reveals originated from Ghana.

Ghana’s fame as the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence reflects on its traditional Kente cloth, worn on every occasion, including ceremonies, festivals, and royal events. Kente designs aren’t just fashion but have stories with proverbial meaning, giving each cloth its own distinction.

 

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Boxer Muhammad Ali and former Ghanaian leader, late Kwame Nkrumah. The boxer put on Kente cloth on his arrival in Ghana.

Kente remains a symbol of national pride, not only for Ghanaians but also for Africans in the Diaspora.  For example, African Americans highlight their connection to the African continent, proudly presenting Kente in celebrations of African American heritage, such as Black History Month.

Many Africa-Americans wear it to show their awareness or support of “Black Pride.” Thus, the United States and other parts of the world are today central to the African art market and the livelihood of artists in Ghana.

You can’t visit Ghana exploring the rich traditional culture of the country by not wearing a Kente cloth. Even at overseas conferences, Ghanaians in Kente cloth always steal the show.

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“I am happy to have my first Kente Cloth,” says the baby.