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African Americans - Foreigners or Relatives?


The Ghanaian government is spearheading a campaign to attract people of African origin from around the world to go to Ghana to help rebuild the nation. The campaign will eventually include giving Ghanaian citizenship to African Americans.

A major problem for the government is that many Ghanaians view African Americans as foreigners rather than as long-lost relatives and even refer to African Americans as “obruni” or “white people.”

To counter these perceptions and make Ghana more welcoming, the government is running an education campaign for its citizens. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Ghana’s minister of tourism, explained the nature of the campaign to English to Africa’s Ruby Ofori.

“We’re using mass media to teach people about the Africans when they left here and … went to the Diaspora. And then in teaching them, we’re making them realize… the blood ties. Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said they aim to teach Ghanaians to replace the taunt of “obruni” with a more welcoming word, “Anyemi,” meaning “brother” or “sister” in the Ga language.

Mr Obetsebi Lamptey also said they plan to ease travel to Ghana for Africans in the Diaspora with new immigration rules. “We’re starting off initially with a visa-free arrangement by introducing the Diasporan stamp. Once you come in to Ghana as a Diasporan you can apply for the Diasporan stamp, which allows you visa-free entry at any time in the future.”