Louis Cameron Gossett Jr, an American Academy Award winner, arrives in Accra today for a three-day visit to Ghana.
A prominent member of the diaspora African community, Mr Gosset, universally acknowledged for his role as Sergeant Emil Foley in the 1982 film, ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’, was the first African-American male to win an Oscar in a supporting role, the second black male to win for acting, and the third African-American actor to win overall. His played roles also famous blockbusters like ‘A Raisin in the Sun’, ‘The Deep’ and ‘Jaws 3-D’ In Ghana, he will be the guest of the Diaspora African Forum, a grouping of African Americans in Ghana who have planned a welcome reception for him on Saturday evening at the Du Bois Centre, Accra.
Disclosing this to newsmen, Ambassador Erika Bennett, Head of Mission of the Forum, said the famous actor had been of tremendous support to the Forum. “As a matter of fact, Louis Cameron Gossett Jr is on our board,” she added.
Ambassador Bennet singled out President Akufo Addo for praise. According to her, it was he who, as Ghana’s Foreign Minister in the Kufuor Administration, signed the protocols that secured the diaspora Africans diplomatic status recognized by the African Unity.
“Ghana has been of tremendous support to our cause; indeed, among us, diaspora Africans, Ghana is considered the most Pan African country on the continent” Reacting to the news, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, Mrs Catherine Abelema Afeku, situated the actor’s visit within the context of the Year of Return programme initiated by Ghana to mark 400 years of the trans Atlantic Slave Trade.
The programme was launched by President Akufo Addo at the American Press Club in Washington DC in September this year.
She said, “The Year of Return has a spiritual component. When you have the elders in the diaspora such as Louis Cameron Gossett, then you know the African resilient spirit is real. I do look forward to welcoming him home,” she added.
His visit, she remarked, was evidence of the impact of the many marketing programmes initiated by her Ministry and spearheaded by the Ghana Tourism Authority.
Ghana is the first to host an AU Embassy for Diaspora Africa, with a full-fledged ambassador recognized by the AU. Indeed, Ghana has the largest population of diaspora Africans living in its territory, numbering over 5,000, from North and South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Kohain, Executive Director of the PANAFEST Foundation has, on behalf of people of African descent in the diaspora appealed to the Government of Ghana to expedite action on the Right of Abode law that will qualify people of African descent to make Ghana their home.
Section 17(1) of the Immigration Act 2000, Act 573 provides that a person having the right of abode “shall be free to live and to come and go into and from the country without let or hindrance”. Among the category of people who qualify to apply are “persons of African descent in the Diaspora”.
Speaking to the media in Accra on behalf of diaspora Africans, however, Rabbi said the Right of Abode concept had been on the books for almost 20 years mainly because of difficulties having to do with the “technical details of making anyone qualify for it.”
That, he said, was why it was important for the Government to take a look at the qualifications and come up with the necessary amendments that would make the law more accessible to diasporans desirous of making Ghana their home. Rabbi has lived continuously in Ghana for 25 years. He obtained his Ghanaian citizenship two years ago.
He emphasised: “We are not coming here as any other foreigners or aliens. We are not former colonisers as the British, French or Germans. We are the sons and daughters of Africa. So as the sons and daughters of Africa we should not have to go through the same impediments as some other people who come and want to naturalise or become a citizen of a nation they were not born in.”