From W.E.B. Du Bois to Julian Bond to Maya Angelou, Ghana has carried the hopes and dreams of Black Americans who identify with the African continent.
Some turned to Ghana to escape the racism of the United States. Some went to engage with Pan-Africanist and socialist thought under the tutelage of Ghana’s President Kwame Nkrumah and African diasporan political exiles. Du Bois called the continent “the spiritual frontier of humankind.”
This month, the Diaspora African Forum and Our Black Truth, a social media platform, fulfilled the dreams of two American centenarians––survivors of the 1929 Tulsa Race Massacre––to connect with their motherland.
“Now after all these years, I’m so happy to be fulfilling a lifelong dream of going to Africa and I am so pleased that it is to beautiful Ghana,” said Viola Fletcher, 107, known as ‘Mother Fletcher,’ who arrived with her brother Hughes Van Ellis, 100, known as ‘Uncle Red.’
The siblings are from the district of Greenwood in the Oklahoma city of Tulsa that was devastated in 1921 by a mob of armed white people––a story barely known to white Americans until recently but now the subject of in-depth histories, children’s picture books, and even a graphic novel.
Nadia Adongo Musah of Ghana’s office of diaspora affairs called the visit “one of the biggest historic African diasporans that have come back to us.”
Fletcher and Ellis were accompanied by their grandchildren for the week-long trip as part of a government campaign to attract people of African heritage abroad ‘back home.’
The family landed in Ghana’s capital of Accra with beaming smiles, waving from their wheelchairs to airport onlookers cheering ‘welcome home’.
“It’s my first time on the continent of Africa and I’m just thrilled to be here,” said Ellis’ daughter, Mama.
As they made their way out of the airport, the survivors were given flowers and sashes saying: ‘Beyond the Return’––in reference to the government campaign launched in 2019, four centuries after the first slave ship landed in what is now the United States.
“My grandparents are extremely excited to be home for the first time on the motherland,” said Fletcher’s grandson, Ike Howard. “If you haven’t visited Africa, this is the time to come.”