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.