STEP Analysis: Social Factors and Impact of the Aliens Quit Compliance Order

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When the Busia  government  was  inaugurated,  it  immediately  issued  the  expulsion  order  which  caused  the  deportation  of  many  immigrants  in  a  manner  never before attempted.  The study demonstrates  how  the  interplay of factors, such  as  the  government ’s  desire  to  reduce the  rate  of  unemployment and  remittances  from  Ghana,  combat  crime,  guarantee  the  security  of  the  country, compel immigrants to comply with the immigration law s of Ghana, control the growth of  the  country’s  population,  ensure cultural   homogeneity ,   clear   the   streets  of  immigrant destitutes and beggars,   continue   the   policies   of   the   NLC,   and  xenophobia on the part of some Ghanaians, at least to some extent, influenced the  government’s decision to issue the expulsion order.

The people most affected by this Expulsion Order were the Nigerians.  The numbers of Nigerians and in particular, Yoruba’s ethnic group members had drastically increased in the preceding years due to successes chalked by earlier Yoruba merchants who’ve been trading in pre-colonial Gold Coast.

The purpose of this article is to provide the reader with a critical high-level information on socio-cultural this misguided immigration management policy and how to hopefully remedy the seeds of distrust that it sowed amongst fellow Africans.

Causative factors and events

Cocoa:  The introduction of cocoa in the late nineteenth century resulted in unprecedented migration of farmers around Ghana (Hill, 1963). Such migrations led to socio-economic change. According to Addo (1968) migrants influenced socio-economic change by making their skills available where they were most needed, by bringing new sense of values and new modes of economic behaviour into established enterprises, by introducing new skills into the economic life of the receiving areas, and sometimes by opening up the possibility of profitable investment in the areas where they lived. Addae-Mensah (1983) added migrants’ influence in effecting change in their destinations. He suggested in the case of farmers in Wassa-Amenfi district that, they commanded control over property especially of large farms of cash crops and other foodstuff in the area. Other migrants from the Brong-Ahafo, Ashanti, Volta, as well as Gas, Akwapims and Fantis in the Sefwi area either owned farm lands bought from the Sefwi chiefs and head of families or worked as share croppers (Adu, 2005).

An example of early tension between Nigerians and local communities:

It  should  be  observed  however  that  agitation  for  deportation  of  “aliens”  or  “strangers”,  as  the  foreign  migrants  were  referred  to  by  Ghanaian  natives,  started  around  the  mid-20th   century.  In  1932,  during  the  cocoa  hold-up crisis, the Nigerian cocoa farmers in Akyem Abuakwa opposed the local cocoa hold-up led by the  king  of  the  town  against  the  European  firms 10 .  This  instigated  a  far-reaching  resolution  of  the  town  at  a  meeting  of  Okyeman  in 1935.  Then,  the  traditional  council  urge d  the  colonial  government  to  ensure  that  “troublemakers” (referring to the migrants) were kept out of Akyem Abuakwa. The resolution reads as follows:

Okyeman consider that  it  is  now  time  that  people  from  Nigeria  and  other  places should be made amenable to the customary law s of the various states  in  which  they  reside  and  that  any  act  of  insubordination  on  the  part  of  any  such  strangers  should,  with  the  sanction  of  Government,  be  punished  by    As  a  follow-up  to  the  above  resolution,  local  business  people  in  the  town  formed  the  National  Crusade  for  the  Protection of Ghanaian Enterprise which opposed the  foreign entrepreneurs.

Stereotypes:  Despite   their   long-term   migration   and   historic   socio-economic    contributions to the nascent Ghanaian polity, they were stereotypically labeled aliens by the  emerging  African  state.  The   Yoruba  were  highly  integrated  in  the  socio-economic  and   political  structure  of  Ghana  that  they  never  envisaged  such  a  sudden  deportation.  They   invested  in  intermarriages,  politics,  education,  religion,  sports,  and  the  economy;  and   therefore,  considered  Ghana  a  second  home.    Kwame  Nkrumah  selected  his  close  aides   from  amongst  the  Yoruba,  presumably  to  secure  the  political  support  of  the  economically   powerful  group.    In  the  sports  sector,  as  a  way  of  negotiating  their  citizenship,  Yoruba  set   up or supported the Cornerstone Football Club, Kumasi; Federal United Club, Tamale; and  Sunset Club, Ginjini.

Flamboyance of successful Yoruba merchants intensified xenophobia:  It  is  also  important  to  stress  that  the  profligacy   of  Yoruba  merchants  and  their  pseudo-capitalist  tendencies  also  intensified  the  process  of  xenophobia.  It  was  alleged  by  Ghanaian’s  that  Yoruba  flaunted  their  wealth  by  wearing  shoes  decorated  with  Ghanaian  currency  while  rich  traders  often  had  “excessive  gold  decorations  and  abused  the  power  of  money”.  Though  there  might  have  been  some  exaggerations in these  descriptions of Nigerian’s display of wealth to the  consternation of Ghanaians, it is true that most Yoruba traders  owned most of the beautiful houses in Ghana and lived a life of affluence during their good days in Ghana. As  was  expected,  many  Ghanaians  felt  degraded  by  the  extravagant  tendencies  of  the  migrants.  This was the beginning of xenophobic reaction against Nigerian migrants in Ghana.


International migration: Despite the obvious dominance of internal migration in the early period, international migration also occurred, albeit at a minimal level. While migration out of Ghana involved few people, mostly students and professionals to the United Kingdom as a result of colonial ties (Anarfi, et al. 2000; Anarfi, et al. 2003) and other English-speaking countries such as Canada (see Owusu, 2000), migration to Ghana was visible and clear and its documentation dates back to the pre-colonial period.


Fifteenth and sixteenth centuries migrations:  Rouch (1954) for instance mentions Wangara migrants in Ghana in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries while Peil (1974) also highlights migrant labourers and workers who came into the country with the development of cocoa farming, mines and railways in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


British boats picking up Kru laborers in Liberia:  Peil also contends for instance that ‘at one period, British boats stopped regularly on the Kru coast of Liberia to pick up workers for the Gold Coast harbours and mines’ (Peil,1974: 368).

Sub-regional migration post-independence:  After its independence, Ghana’s relative affluence compared to her neighbours continued to attract migrants (Antwi Bosiakoh, 2008). A rise in employment opportunities, the development of industry and higher wages, especially in urban

areas, made the Ghanaian economy attractive and therefore induced not only rural-urban

migration, but sub-regional migration as well.


1960 Census:  In the 1960 census for example, immigrants accounted for 12 per cent of the enumerated population.  Migrants from other African countries constituted 98 per cent of the foreign-born

population (Anarfi, et al., 2000; 2003).


Other expulsions in the sub-region:  Adepoju (2005:5) provides examples of some West African countries which also expelled nationals of foreign origin including Ivory Coast in 1958 and 1964, Senegal in 1967, Sierra-Leone in 1968 and Nigeria in 1983 and 1985. These examples show that a number of West African countries resorted to expulsion as an option for dealing with immigrants.


Migration of Health Professionals:  In  the  particular  case  of  migration  of  health  professionals  (see  Table  2  below),  it  is estimated  that  over  half  of  doctors  trained  in  Ghana  have  migrated. According  to Mensah et al (2005), between 1999 and 2004, the total number of doctors registered in the UK and trained in Ghana, doubled from 143 to 293.3. In addition, there were 40 new   registrations   of   Ghanaian   nurses   in   1998/9   and   by   2003/4   an   estimated cumulative  total  of  1021  had  registered.  The  substantial  decrease  in  2004  in  the number  of  health  workers  who  emigrated  may  be  attributed  to  the  introduction  of  government  interventions    to  improve  the  conditions  of  service  of  health  workers, which    included  increases  in  basic  salaries  and  allowances,  the  introduction  of  the additional  duty  hour  allowance  (ADHA)  for  health  workers  in  1998,  incentive schemes such as housing and car loans,  study leave with pay, the establishment of the Deprived Area Incentive Allowance (DAIA) and the establishment of the College of Physicians  and  Surgeons to provide  and  supervise  post  graduate  medical  training  in Ghana.


Internal Migration:  The development of  Ghana’s  cocoa  industry caused considerable.


International Migration and Brain Drain:  The   literature   on   international   migration   indicates   extensive   research   on   the emigration  of  labour  namely  skilled  and  unskilled  or  semi-skilled  who  moved  out or  greener  pastures  with  the  economic  downturn  in  the  mid  1960s.  Studies  on international migration also focused on the emigration of skilled professionals in the health and educational sectors for obvious developmental reasons. These movements were  both  within  the  continent  and  to  intercontinental  destinations  of  Europe  and North  America  (Anarfi  et  al.,  2000;  2003;  Owusu,  2000;  Kabki,  2007).  In  some cases,  some  Ghanaians  returned  to  the  countries  in  which  they  had  been  trained  to work,  while  others  who  travelled  initially  for  education  and/or  training  stayed behind after their programme of study for employment (Anarfi et al., 2000; 2003). In the  case  of  health  professionals  leaving  the  country,  many  studies  considering  the causes   and   the   consequences   of   their   movement   and   its   implications   to   the development  of  the  country  have  been  done  (Adepoju,  2002;  Avenorgbo,  2003; Mensah et al., 2005, Bump, 2006; Manuh, 2005).


Lawlessness and crime:  Another  major  factor  that  informed  the  expulsion  of  aliens  from  Ghana  in  1969  was  to  rid  Ghana  of  lawlessness  and  crime.  In  his  address  to  the  third  African  Regional  Conference  of  the  International  Labor  Organization  (ILO)  in  Accra,  Kofi  Busia,  in  an  apparent  attempt  to  justify  the  expulsion  order  declare d  that  90  percent  of  Ghana’s  prison  population  and  known  criminals  were  aliens.  As Busia further  explained,  the  expulsion order was not contemplated as an attack on Ghana’s alien community but was rather aimed at reducing  the  number  of  “undesirable  elements”  in  Ghana.


Educated Nigerians exempted:  The process of expulsion appeared to have lent  credence  to  Busia’s explanation  because  Nigerians  who  were  employed  in  the  Ghanaian  civil  service  and  those  teaching  in  the various Teacher Training  Colleges  were exempted  from deportation, except that those  who had no requisite  papers were asked to regularize them.


Nigerian traders of Yoruba descent controlled the markets:  Perhaps, equally of great importance to  the  expulsion  of  aliens  from  Ghana  in  1969  was  the  growing  acrimony  of  Ghanaians  against  the  rising  commercial   profile  and  economic  buoyancy  of  Nigerian  migrants .  Nigerian traders of Yoruba descent were in control  of Ghana markets in both rural and urban centers where they  prospered  tremendously.


Success led to exponential growth of Nigerian population:  This  prosperity  led  to  the  swelling  size  of  Yoruba  population  from  around  57,4 00  in  1931  to  over  191,802  in  1960 34 .  Olaniyi  Rasheed  observes  that  the  rising  commercial  profile  of  the  Yoruba  migrants  attracted  competition  and  indignation  from   Ghanaians  who  developed  a  feeling  of  displacement  from  their established socio-economic position.


Ghanaians  became  jealous of the commercial  acumen  of  Nigerian  traders  and  farmers:  Most of  the  returnees  could  recollect  how  Ghanaians  became  curious  and  restless  regarding  the  commercial  acumen  of  Nigerian  traders  and  farmers  and  their  eventual  wealth  in  no  small  a  time  after  their  arrival.  This led to insinuations by  Ghanaian  natives  that   Yoruba’s  were  magicians  and  “could  make  money  from  anything  including  the  air”.   With time, Ghanaians  labeled  Nigerian  (Yoruba)  migrants  variously  as  “clannish, callous, arrogant and thrifty” among others. With such feelings of deprivation and subordination to the  Yoruba  very  rife  among  Ghanaians,  it  was  very  easy  to  transform  the  Yoruba  identity  from  traders  to  criminals  who  deserved  nothing  but  expulsion.  Yoruba migrants  were  treated  with  disgust  by  their  Ghanaian  hosts.


Emergence of xenophobic slogans:  This prompted the emergence of xenophobic slogans against the Yoruba. One of such slogans as captured by Olaniyi Rasheed in one of his interviews was “ Mubehkor ” meaning “you are going”. It is informative to state  that  such  an  atmosphere  of  insecurity  and  xenophobia  in  which  Nigerian  migrants  found  themselves  in  Ghana  was not a unique experience to the Yoruba’s.


Marginalized indigenous minorities:  Apart from that, marginalized indigenous  minorities  are likely to perceive immigrant  groups as  salient  threat to  their  already  tenuous  positions  in  society.  In  congruence  with  existing  literature  on  economic  competition  and  inter-group rivalry, the actors might face an incentive to exclude immigrants from their economic playing field.  It  is  further  observed  that  at  the  aggregate  level,   threatened  groups  in  the  host  society  may  press  for  legal  restrictions on alien economic activity and may even press for more drastic measures such as expulsions.

Without  any  doubt,  the  expulsion  of  Nigerian  migrants  from  Ghana  in  1969  falls  within  the  above  scenario. Hence, the expulsion order of 18 November , 1969 could be perceived as the outcome of the pressures  put  on  President  Kofi  Busia  for  the  restriction  of  aliens’  participation  in  Ghana’s  economic  life  which   was  spearheaded by the Kwahu ethnic group of Ghana.


Effect of the 1969 Expulsion of Aliens on Nigeria

Re-integration headaches for Nigerian government:  One of the major effects of the deportation of Nigerians from Ghana was demographic in nature. Since the  expulsion  order  of  1969  affected  all  aliens  without  residence  permits,  a  majority  of  Nigerian  migrants estimated to be around 140,000 in number  were affected by the order and  were  forced to leave Ghana abruptly between December 1969 and early 1970. This necessitated an influx of thousands of people into Nigeria. That the influx came  at  the  most  unexpected  and  trying  period  of  Nigeria’s  history  caused  more  challenges for the Nigerian  government  and  the  various  host  communities  especially  in  South-Western  Nigeria.  Towns  like  Inisa, Oyan, Ilorin, Offa, Ejigbo, Ogbomoso, Oke-Imesi and Ogotun played host to numerous indigenes of their towns who were in diaspora for some year’s past.


Disruptive effect on families:  A  multiplier  effect  of  this  forced,  sudden exit  of  Nigerians  from  Ghana  was  that  it  led to family disorganization and family separation. Many Nigerians who were already married to Ghanaians could not come with their  wives or husbands  and had to live a dejected live ever since then.  Re-uniting  such separated families has been less successful even after the dust of the expulsion saga had settled down.


Emotional and psychological trauma:  Some could not fathom out the reason for their continued existence in view of their losses. This was why some had to set fire on their properties (houses, farms and household utensils) while some attempted to commit suicide before they were

rescued by their colleagues. Others were however unlucky as they actually committed suicide.


Loss  of  lives:  The  expulsion  of  Nigerians  from  Ghana  also  resulted  in  physical  devastation  and  loss  of  lives. It all started  with  the  problem  of  transportation  back  home.  Since  the  Ghanaian  government  did  not  make  any arrangement for the transportation of those expelled, each of the migrants had to cater for him/herself. Hence, the first  challenge  that  confronted  the  migrants  was  the  skyrocketing  transport  fare  even  in  the  face  of  scarcity  of vehicles.  Because  a  majority  could  not  afford  the  cost  of  transportation,  they  resorted  to  trekking  across  the border  on  foot.  As a result  of  this  strenuous  experience,  many  of  the  migrants,  including  the  aged,  pregnant women, and children became physically exhausted, resulting in death in some cases. Even at the refugee camps along  the  border,  migrants  passed  through  hell.  Some  of  their  nasty  experiences  included  lack  of  food, lack  of sufficient  cash  and  exposure  to  environmental  hazards.  When  some  of  them  got  home  eventually,  they  were almost worn out by the long strenuous journey and had to rely on their kith and kin for sustenance.


Socio-psychological impacts on Nigerians:  The  expulsion  of  aliens  from  Ghana  in  1969  equally had  some  socio-psychological  impacts  on Nigerians.  One  of  such  problems  was  that  of  re-integration  and  adjustment.  Since  some  of  these  returnees  had left  home  for  about  a  decade  or  more  without  any  return  journey  in  the  interval,  they  have  totally  lost  contact with their hometowns and family members. Elders could recollect that some of the returnees had to spend close to  two  weeks  before  they  could  be  re-united  with  their  family  members.  This  was  because  they  have  lost  the memory of their compounds and therefore had to stay in refugee camps in their towns, in most cases, the king’s palaces in the respective towns.

But  while  some  were  languishing  in  the  trauma  of  unplanned  return  journey  and  were  stranded  in  the king’s  palaces,  it  is  rather  paradoxical  that  some parents  and  family  members  were  happy  to  be  re-united  with their children, grand-children and other loved ones after a very long period of separation. Such people were full of gratitude to God and the Ghanaian government for the expulsion order without which their loved ones would have  been  “lost  forever”.  Like  it  happened  in  the  time  of  the  proverbial  prodigal  son  in  the  Bible,  many  such families celebrated the return of their kinsmen in grand-style.


Widespread child fostering:  Olaniyi  Rasheed also  reports  that  the  expulsion  order  also  led  to widespread  child  fostering. According  to  him,  returnee  parents  migrated  to  secure  means  of  livelihood  while  children  were  kept  in the traditional  setting  of  the  old  family  houses,  usually  with  grandparents.  The  education  of  most  of  these  affected children  became  truncated  in  the  process  as  some  parents  lacked  the  capacity  to  send  them  to  school.  Many children  lost  some  years  before  they  could  return  to  school,  while  some  others  had  to  learn  trading  and artisanship  skills.  The  Western  State  Ministry  of  Education  should  however  be  commended  for  making  special arrangement for the school registration of the deported children.








About Anang Tawiah

About the author :: Anang Tawiah is a New York City based Management Consultant specializing in Investment Risk and Technology Strategy. He continues to guide many Blue chip companies and Governments as a Business and Technology Consultant. Please direct all follow up questions, concerns, request for speaking engagements and presentations regarding my articles and research to my Facebook Page listed below. You can read more of his analysis or reach him for further professional consultations and or guidance at: // Email: // Follow me on Wordpress: // Follow me on Facebook:

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