New Telegraph

From Meghan To Wonder

African Americans are homesick, looking towards the mother continent for foreclosure of the painful past. Nigeria, as erstwhile giant of Africa must position itself to attract the Diasporan population in the journey back to their roots. Recently, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, made a 72-hour visit to the country, accompanied by her husband, Harry, Duke of Sussex.

The trip came some years after she disclosed her Nigerian identity following a DNA test which confirmed a 43 per cent attachment. Just as the British Royals were departing Lagos, iconic American musician, Stevie Wonder (real name Stevland Hardaway Morris) found a new home in Ghana. President Nana AkufoAddo conferred Ghanaian citizenship on one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

That should send a message to President Bola Tinubu. Ghana is gradually becoming the preferred choice of African American and Caribbean Diasporans. About 252 of them have chosen the sister West African country as their new abode – not Nigeria. The Duchess was very much at home in Lagos where three traditional rulers, the Obi of Onitsha, Eze Aro and Olu of Warri, honoured her.

She became Ada Mazi, a title that is common among Aro women. Some Yoruba admirers quickly named her Omowale. It is cheery news that our blood from across the Atlantic have shown love and interest to make their way back to Africa, from where many of their forefathers were taken from as slaves.

The Ghanaian government has shown commitment by identifying with Stevie Wonder’s aspirations. The composer is an asset, with sales of over 100 million records worldwide. He has also won 25 Grammy Awards. Stevie Wonder became a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2009. The American Presidential Medal of Honour came in 2014.

It is significant that he was granted citizenship on his 74th birthday, May 13, 2024. This is the man that released a song, ‘Happy Birthday,’ in 1980. His ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ album of 1976 was popularised in Nigeria, a year before FESTAC ’77. It is proper to admit that Stevie Wonder and Ghana

That should send a message to President Bola Tinubu. Ghana is gradually becoming the preferred choice of African American and Caribbean Diasporans

have always had something going for them. He named one of his sons, Kwame, apparently after that country’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, the Osagyefo, who dropped the colonial name, Gold Coast, after independence in 1957. Abuja should find a way of attracting superstars who have identified with the country.

The task of boosting the economy is not all about speeches. There must be a deliberate attempt to open up the economy whatever it takes. Singer Rihanna (Robyn Rihanna Fenty) was told of her Igbo background by her grannie. The Barbadian is proud of that identity. It will only take a conducive environment to bring her closer home. Such a big name can open doors for Nigeria – and not only in entertainment. Many Barbadians are connected to Nigeria.

Olympic medallist, Obadele Thompson, was born while his dad taught at the University of Ibadan. The former official residence of that nation’s Prime Minister is known as Ilaro Court. Ilaro Court was designed by Gertrude Parker, the American second wife of Gilbert Carter, Governor of Lagos in the last years of the 19th Century.

Carter Bridge is named after the man whose first wife, Susan Hocker, died in Lagos on January 13, 1895. In 2009, Marlon Jackson, one of the members of the famous Jackson Five frequented Lagos trying to establish the Michael Jackson Memorial Centre, in Gberefu, Badagry.

It would have been a money spinning venture, in partnership with the Lagos State Government. Tinubu must extend a hand of friendship to these powerful African Americans. The Hollywood duo of Forest Whitaker and Danny Glover were in Nkwerre, Imo State some years back, where they received chieftaincy titles.

Bringing Hollywood into Nollywood will make a grandiose investment mix, full of job opportunities for Nigerians, with the corollary economic boost. Our leaders should grow beyond publicity to partnerships that work. The Williams Sisters, Serena and Venus, are a big brand. They had a senior sibling named Yetunde. They visited Lagos in 2012. That green light has not been exploited as a business opening. The all-important Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) comes in different forms.

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