President of West African country, Sierra Leone, Dr Julius Maada Bio has followed the footsteps of his counterparts by granting citizenship to 22 African Americans on the 5th of January, 2021.
The set of 22, whom were warmly welcomed into the country took earlier steps to conduct DNA tests which successfully traced their origin to Sierra Leone.
During a brief ceremony at the statehouse, each of them have been issued an official national passports that authenticate their newly conferred citizenship.
In addressing the ‘new’ citizens, the President reflected on how the British exploited Sierra Leoneans during slavery; He stated that, “this is the land of our mutual ancestors who were to later work rice fields and plantations that sustained the economies of the 13 British Colonies in the Americas. While others may invent history for the purpose of marketing tourism, you have lived your own history through over 400 years.”
President Bio added that “This is the land of Sengbeh Pieh of the Amistad revolt. This is the land of the rice coast, of the Gullahs, of folktales about the trickster, of handicraft, of foodways, of seeking rituals, and the call and response of African-American song and dance. This is Sierra Leone.”
The return of people of African descent resident in the diaspora to the continent in recent time, coupled with the reception from the people is quite encouraging; not long ago, another West African country, Ghana granted citizenship to over one hundred African-Americans who also traced their DNA’s to Ghana in a very memorable ceremony.