In September 2018, in Washington D.C, in the United States of America, President Akufo-Addo solemnly proclaimed and officially launched the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019”, for persons of African descent in the Diaspora.
President Akufo-Addo pronounced purposefully and poignantly: “We know of the extraordinary achievements and contributions they [Africans in the diaspora] made to the lives of the Americans, and it is important that this symbolic year—400 years later—we commemorate their existence and their sacrifices.”
It must, however, be noted that somewhere in 2000, Ghana rationally promulgated the Immigration Act which paved way for a “Right of Abode” for any “Persons of African descent in the Diaspora” to travel to and from the country “without impediment.”
And more so in 2007, during the 50th year commemoration of Ghana’s independence, the Government of Ghana prudently came up with the “Joseph Project” to commemorate the 200 years of the abolition of slavery, and to urge Africans abroad to return home.
It is worth mentioning that the “Joseph Project” was named after Biblical Joseph, who was ignobly sold into slavery in Egypt, who would later join up with the rest of his family and govern Egypt.
Interestingly, the “joseph Project” was comparable to “Israel’s policy of reaching out to Jews in every corner of the globe after the revoltingly ugly event of the Holocaust”.
Of course, the invitation to our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to return home was drafted and sent out some years ago.
Nevertheless, what makes President Akufo-Addo’s ‘2019 Year of Return’ invitation somewhat special is the large volumes of responses by our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora.
There is no gainsaying the fact that since the earnest proclamation by President Akufo-Addo in September 2018, a large number of persons of African descent have embraced the idea and embarked on a memorable home coming to the utter delight of all well-meaning Ghanaians.
Verily, the finest celebrities like Steve Harvey, Kofi Kingston, and Samuel L. Jackson, among others, have either visited, or expressed interest of visiting at a later date.
Clearly, our brothers and sisters have reposed trust in the President Akufo-Addo’s leadership and bought into his vision of welcoming all persons of African descent in Ghana.
The ‘Year of Return’ overwhelming acceptance is a testament to President Akufo-Addo’s global appeal and his acknowledged charismatic leadership.
It must, however, be noted that charismatic leaders are noted for their positivism, idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individual consideration (Nemanich and Keller, 2007).
Some scholars observe that idealised influence depicts charismatic leaders as most respectful, reliable and meritorious.
Moreover, idealised influence explains charismatic leaders unparalleled ability in setting vision and implementing it to impact society (Bass et al., 2003).
On the other hand, inspirational motivation explains how charismatic leaders consistently raise team spirit and encourage people to be creative (Bass et al., 2003).
I must confess, after observing Nana Akufo-Addo over a long period of time, I have come to a firm conclusion that he, in fact, possesses the attributes of a charismatic leader.
If you may recall, during the 2016 electioneering campaign, the then presidential candidate of NPP, Nana Akufo-Addo, insisted: “I am promising you that within 18 months of a new government of the NPP, under my leadership, the face of our country, Ghana, is going to change”.
The preceding statement, so to speak, underscores Nana Addo’s positivism, commitment and enthusiasm.
Interestingly, Leadership and Management scholars note that charismatic leaders act as role models, motivate, provide meaning, optimism, enthusiasm , strategic thinking and stimulate the intelligence of their subordinates(Bass, 1985).
Akufo-Addo insisted during the 2016 electioneering campaign: “We are going to get out of stagnation and backwardness, and move our country onto the path of progress and prosperity. We can do it. We, the Ghanaian people, have the capacity to change the circumstances of our lives”.
The preceding statement really emphasises Nana Addo’s intellectual stimulation and positivism.
Intellectual stimulation explains how true leaders promote their subordinates innovative and creative skills by encouraging them to solve problems entirely in new ways (Bass et al., 2003).
If you may remember, during the 2016 electioneering campaign, Nana Akufo-Addo asserted: “This ‘new Ghana will be a Ghana with opportunities for all, and where everybody is taken care off. We will have a society that is caring and compassionate and expresses solidarity. Nobody is going to be left behind. We are all going to march together, hands linked together, to that great future that beckons us, here in Ghana.”
To his credit though, Nana Akufo-Addo brought all the people who contested him in the NPP’s flagbearership race together.
Yes, he resolved all pre-election issues and worked collaboratively towards the 2016 election victory.
And, following his 2016 election victory, President Akufo-Addo graciously assembled a working team consisting of people from all walks of life, including a 2016 presidential candidate from an opposition party.
So, who says that our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora have not taken keen notice of President Akufo-Addo’s charismatic leadership?
Our beloved brothers and sisters, we say akwaaba, and, please do make yourselves comfortable at home!
K. Badu, UK.