Brown Bag Lecture series. . .
“Assessing the Symbiotic Relationship Between Ghanaians and African Americans in the Diaspora”
Presented by Hassan Wahab, second-year MA student in AAADS
Oct. 10, 2007
In his presentation on "Assessing the Symbiotic Relationship Between Ghanaians and African Americans in the Diaspora," second-year MA student Hassan Wahab, who is from Ghana, stated that this topic was, for him, both "sentimental and a quest for knowledge." It is also the subject of his thesis research.
Wahab argued that there appears to be evidence that Ghanaians and African Americans have at different historical junctures, inspired each other to pursue a goal or course of action. For instance, he noted, Ghana's political independence in March 1957 served as a morale booster for African Americans during the civil rights movement of that period. In the immediate aftermath of Ghana's independence, several leading African Americans heeded the invitation of Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah (a graduate of Lincoln University, an historically black university in Pennsylvania), to return to Ghana and help the country in its development efforts.
However, Wahab cited attitudes toward the former slave castle at Cape Coast, Ghana, as an example of where there is little meeting of the minds between Africans and African Americans. Apparently, most African Americans show emotional attachment to that historic building, which played such a role in their ancestors enslavement, whereas most Ghanaians are not attached to it and see it mainly as a tourist attraction.
Today, Ghana's open-armed welcome of African Americans as citizens of Ghana is once again a positive aspect of the relationship. African Americans must stay only six months in Ghana to gain citizenship, and Ghanaians who live abroad do not lose their Ghanaian citizenship (as they did in the past). In 1964, there were only 300 African Americans living in Ghana; today there are many.
Reiterating that such mutually beneficial relationships have not been without tensions, Wahab stated that the goal of his research, therefore, is to assess the extent to which a symbiotic relationship, if indeed there is one, exists between Ghanaians and African Americans.
A question-and-answer session followed the well-attended presentation.