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Stevie Wonder’s ‘Overjoyed’ as Ghana Grants Him Citizenship

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On his 74th birthday, legendary singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder was officially granted Ghanaian citizenship. The beaming musical icon received the honor directly from President Nana Akufo-Addo during a special ceremony at Ghana’s presidential palace on Monday.

“This is it, congratulations!” Akufo-Addo told Wonder as he handed him a certificate of citizenship, along with a birthday cake festooned with the Ghanaian flag. The “Superstition” singer, draped in traditional kente cloth, could hardly contain his joy at the event.

“It’s an amazing thing, gaining Ghanaian nationality on my birthday,” Wonder told BBC afterwards. While born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan, the 25-time Grammy winner has cultivated deep ties to the West African nation over decades.

As early as 1975, fresh off a string of iconic albums, Stevie Wonder openly mused about quitting music to relocate to Ghana, believing his ancestral roots traced back to the country. Though he ultimately remained stateside, Ghana continued beckoning the star.

In the 1990s, after headlining a Ghanaian music festival, Wonder again expressed his desire to set up a permanent home there. He would go on to write his entire 2005 album “A Time to Love” during a sojourn in Ghana, having fallen in love with the people and culture.

“I remember the late President [Jerry] Rawlings, who allowed me to be a co-pilot on a flight,” Wonder reminisced about one memorable encounter. “I was able to fly with him from one end of Ghana to the other end. The north to the south, and it was amazing.”

Just three years ago, disillusioned by racial injustice in America, the musical pioneer revealed plans to permanently relocate to the “Black Mecca” of Ghana.

On Monday, that aspiration finally came to fruition as Stevie Wonder joined the ranks of other African American icons like W.E.B. Du Bois, who was buried in Ghana, in celebrating their ancestral homeland. Ghana has actively encouraged this “Year of Return” pilgrimage, granting citizenship to over 300 diaspora Africans since 2019.

In a statement, Ghana’s interior ministry hailed Wonder’s naturalization as “a significant milestone” in outreach efforts recognizing “outstanding contributions to the African diaspora.”

The new citizen has grand plans befitting his stature. He aims to create employment opportunities tapping into Ghana’s booming youth population. “The youngest generation is in Africa,” he stated. “We need to begin to think about how their greatness can shine.”

As he embarks on this new chapter, the iconic artist says he’s simply “overjoyed” to finally embrace his roots in the motherland through the gift of Ghanaian citizenship. For the nation as well, welcoming Stevie Wonder into the fold marks a celebrated homecoming.

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