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VIDEO: Stevie Wonder granted Ghanaian citizenship

Speaking at a brief ceremony at Jubilee House on Monday, President Akufo-Addo hailed Stevie Wonder and said his name is synonymous with creativity

President Akufo-Addo has conferred Ghanaian citizenship on the American musician, producer and songwriter Stevie Wonder.

Stevie Wonder, who is currently in Ghana with his family, will now hold dual Ghanaian/US citizenship.

Speaking at a brief ceremony at Jubilee House in Accra on Monday 13 May (Wonder’s 74th birthday), Akufo-Addo commended Wonder and said his name is synonymous with creativity.

“I am glad he has decided to make Ghana his home, and thereby join several generations of African diasporans who committed their lives to us – missionaries, policemen, lawyers, doctors, health workers, writers, artists, musicians – and the likes of George Padmore, close associate of our first president, Kwame Nkrumah; Bob Marley’s widow, Rita, who has found a home with us in Aburi; Maya Angelou, a contemporary of mine at the University of Ghana, Legon, the celebrated writer who spent a considerable part of her youth with us; and W E B DuBois, the great scholar who also found a home in Ghana, and is buried here,” President Akufo-Addo said.

Stevie Wonder with President Akufo-Addo

 

Wonder said: “I first of all give all praise to God. Since I was a little boy, I always believed in my heart that there was nothing impossible, that the Spirit of Our God is the highest.”

“And for years since about 1972, I have talked about coming to Ghana to work on tsetse fly and sleeping blindness … I have talked about Ghana throughout my years.

“And for now over 50 years I have talked about being a citizen of this country,” he said.

 

Back to Africa

The multiple-Grammy-winning Stevie Wonder began speaking about his plans to move to Ghana to work with disabled children in the 1970s and announced his intention to relocate permanently in February 2021.

He told Oprah Winfrey for The Oprah Conversation streamed on Apple TV+ that he made the decision because he does not ever want to be in a position where any of his grandchildren will have to beg to be valued and respected.

The multiple platinum-selling musician also stressed his desire to “see America smile again”.

“I promise you [the United States of America] if you do the right thing, I will give this song, I will give it to you, you can have it,” he said, as he prepared to perform live on television. “Because I want [to] see this nation smile again and I want to see it before I leave to … move to Ghana, because I am going to do that,” he said, speaking from his home by video link.

“You’re going to move permanently to Ghana?” Oprah asked.

Wonder replied: “Yes, I am, because I don’t want to see my children’s children’s children have to say, ‘Oh, please like me, please, please respect me, please know that I’m important, please value me.’ What kind of **** is that?”

His move comes at a time when thousands of African Americans have expressed their interest to relocate to Ghana after the “Year of Return”.

About Stevie Wonder

The singer-songwriter (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins in Saginaw City, Michigan on 13 May 1950) lost his eyesight when he came into the world six weeks early suffering from retinopathy of prematurity, a disorder caused by abnormal blood vessels in the retina.

Receiving too much oxygen in the incubator probably made the condition worse and left him blind.

But from his breakthrough as a Motown child prodigy to becoming a member of the R’n’B Hall of Fame in 2019, Wonder has been one of the best-loved American musicians of all time.

Wonder never let his vision disorder hold him back. Aged five, he reportedly told his mother, “Don’t worry about me being blind, because I’m happy.”

In conversation with Oprah, he remembered saying it. “It bothered me that my mother was crying all the time,” Wonder explained. “She thought God might be punishing her for something. She lived during a time when things were particularly difficult for a woman in her circumstances.”

Life was tough for his family. They were poor and often faced hunger. And, as Wonder’s mother said in a 2002 biography, his father was an alcoholic who abused her and forced her into prostitution.

Eventually, Wonder’s mother moved the family to Detroit, where he taught himself how to play instruments, including the harmonica and piano, by the age of ten. His talents caught the attention of Ronnie White of the band the Miracle, which led to an audition with the founder of Motown Records, Berry Gordy Jr.

That connection eventually turned him into a household name, renowned and loved for a string of hits such as “I Was Made to Love Her”, “Superstition”, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)”, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”, “Higher Ground”, “I Just Called to Say I Love You”, “Master Blaster” and “My Cherie Amour”. Studio albums of his music from the 1970s, including Music of My Mind (1972), Innervisions (1973), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974) and Songs in the Key of Life (1974-76), are seen as timeless pop classics.

Reporting by Winifred Lartey and Fred Dzakpata in Accra

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