There are 195 countries in the world. And of all of them, First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump, began her first solo international tour in Ghana. Coincidental? Hardly.
Back in 2009, then-President of the U.S., Barack Obama, visited the country during one of his international trips. It was the first African country he visited as commander-in-chief.
“I've come here to Ghana for a simple reason,” he told a crowd in the country’s capital. “The 21st century will be shaped by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington, but by what happens in Accra, as well.”
Former President of the United States Barack Obama in Accra in 2009.
Former President George Bush seems to have thought so, too. So much so, he coughed up a $101 million donation for the construction of the Mallam–Tetteh Quashie Highway (better known as the George W. Bush Highway), a 14-kilometre road that stretches across the Greater Accra region.
U.S.-Ghana relations run deep. The love story began in 1957 during the height of Ghana’s independence from British rule and has grown stronger and more sustaining ever since. The U.S. embassy in Ghana says that part of what attracted the North American nation to the West African country was its “mutual commitment to freedom and democratic values.”
But let’s be realistic here. Typically, when countries form partnerships, there’s almost always money involved. Lots of money involved. Here are the numbers.
$1.2 billion: The amount of trade volume between the U.S. and Ghana.
$800 million: The current cash flow stemming from American countries operating in Ghana
$500 million: The donation given to support Ghana’s power sector and stimulate private investment
116: The number of U.S. investments funneling a pipeline worth millions of dollars
Then there’s the Peace Corp, a U.S.-led volunteer program. Ghana was the first country in the world to accept it. Over 60 countries followed suit following Ghana’s favourable reception.
During the height of the U.S. Civil Rights movement, some of the country’s most distinguished citizens began visiting and moving into the country. Take W.E.B. Dubois, the noted historian and first African-American to receive a degree from Harvard. He settled in Ghana’s Cantonments area up until his death in 1963. His remains are still housed there up until today.
W.E.B. Dubois with Kwame Nkrumah in Accra.
Then there’s Maya Angelou, the world-renowned poet who, in 1962, moved to Ghana where she worked as an administrator for the University of Ghana.
Malcolm X and Maya Angelou in Ghana in the 1960s.
And Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights leader and minister whose close friendship with Kwame Nkrumah led him to visit Ghana to celebrate its independence in 1957.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana shortly after the country gained its independence in 1957.
"There’s quite a lot to observe and absorb here. I’m captivated by the creativity and the people that make up this unique country,” said Nadia Balogou, an American brand specialist who left her job and moved to Ghana earlier this year.
She’s part of a new wave of Westerners transporting their lives to Ghana. Some even becoming famous like British-born media entrepreneur, Peace Hyde, and Ama Abebrese, who left the U.K. to begin her acting career in Ghana.
The West, the U.S. in particular, is enamored with Ghana. It’s inexplicable. It’s organic. It’s kind of like when you find out your crush likes you back. It’s a good feeling. And according to the U.S. embassy, “we continue to look for ways to strengthen the ties between our countries.”
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Multimedia Group.
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