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Stevie Wonder marks 74th birthday by becoming a Ghanaian citizen

Jakkar Aimery, The Detroit News on

Published in Entertainment News

DETROIT— Since he was a child, Motown legend Stevie Wonder always believed in his heart that there was nothing impossible.

For the Saginaw native and superstar, that belief rang true this week when the "Isn't She Lovely" singer marked his 74th birthday across the Atlantic and became a citizen of the Republic of Ghana.

The 25-time Grammy Award-winning artist received the certification of registration as a citizen of Ghana and a Ghanaian passport during a ceremony Monday at the Jubilee House, the presidential palace in the capital city, Accra. Wonder's first cousin, Sharon DuMas, told The Detroit News on Friday that the musician's wife, Tomeeka, was among those who stood by the "Superstition" singer.

"I, first of all, give all praise to God," Wonder said in footage posted online. "Since a little boy, I always believed in my heart that there was nothing impossible ... And for years, since about 1972, I've talked about coming to Ghana."

"The truth is: I'm committed to, as now a Ghanaian citizen, being apart of fulfilling the dream that we've had for so many years, of bringing people of Africa (and) those of the diaspora — in the United States, the Caribbean — all of the people together," Wonder said. "Because as I've said, and I've said for many years: the only way the world will come together is if we unite as a united people of the world."

It was immediately unclear if Wonder would maintain dual-citizenship.

Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo said the west African nation extends "our warmest embrace to a beloved son of Africa," adding that Wonder's citizenship reaffirmed "our belief in the enduring spirit of Pan-Africanism and the global African family, and the boundless potential of our continent and all its descendants," he said Tuesday on X, formerly Twitter.

A leading country in Africa, Ghana is lauded for its considerable natural wealth. It was the first Black African country south of the Sahara to achieve independence from colonial rule in 1957, britannica.com says.

In 2001, the county's parliament passed the Right to Abode law, granting the descendants of enslaved Africans the right to stay there, Al Jazeera reported.

 

The government in 2019 launched "Year of Return," a campaign encouraging African descendants, whose roots were torn from the country during the transatlantic slave trade to return there. To date, 252 people from Africa American and Caribbean diaspora communities have registered as Ghanaians, the country's Ministy of the Interior said.

Blind from infancy, Wonder was born in Saginaw as Steveland Hardaway Judkins, according to the National Park Service. He and his family moved to Detroit when he was 4 years old, and he was raised in a neighborhood near Milwaukee Avenue, which was renamed Stevie Wonder Avenue on the city's west side in 2016.

When his mother, Lula Mae Hardaway, later remarried, he changed his name to Steveland Morris, the park service said. At 11, he would sign to Motown and score several charts.

DuMas said her cousin's Ghanaian citizenship was well-deserved.

"Stevie's commitment to music, social justice and humanitarian causes embodies the spirit of unity and cultural appreciation," she said. "This new chapter in his life is a testament to his enduring legacy and the universal power of his artistry. Congratulations, Stevie, on this remarkable honor."

Wonder said during the ceremony that his citizenship was an effort "to bring us together ... because I know we are the original people of the planet. So, it is only fitting that we bring our children together, all of them, all of the colors.

"... I have never seen the colors, but I've seen the colors of people: their hearts. And I'm wanting us to come together as one people. It's not impossible."

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©2024 The Detroit News. Visit detroitnews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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