An Assessment Of The Origins, Implementation And Effects Of Ghana’s 1969 Aliens Compliance Order

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An Assessment Of The Origins, Implementation And Effects Of Ghana’s 1969 Aliens Compliance Order

Chapter One


1.1 Background Of The Study

In general, migration has been one of the most distinguishing elements of the African way of life, and people have been moving from one locality to another since prehistoric times. Throughout the history of West Africa, long-distance international migrations have happened. People relocated and settled in areas where opportunities appeared to be good2. Thus, many West African countries may see a huge number of immigrants who settled down to live and work or who came occasionally, stayed for a short time, and then returned to their native countries3. The movement of people from one locality to another became more evident during the colonial era, as by then, international political boundaries had been formed and arbitrarily imposed on Africa, separating one nation-state from others, but not in the deeper sense.

As a result, cross-border migration remained even after the country gained independence. In fact, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and The Gambia were the three main destinations for migrants in West Africa in the 1960s4. As more immigrants arrived in Ghana, they progressively came to dominate certain areas of the economy, primarily the secondary or low-wage jobs sector, despite the fact that they could initially only find work as labourers or in commerce. Nigerians established a stronghold in diamond digging and smuggling; yam sales at the Kumasi Central Market were monopolized by men from Gao in Mali; and three-fifths of the country’s butchers were immigrants, largely Hausa.

Previous governments did not stand idly in the face of an increasing immigrant population and the economic implications that entails. To regulate immigration, colonial authorities established a slew of immigration policies. While some laws established Ghanaian citizenship, others governed the types of persons who might enter Ghana, the standards they had to meet before entering, the length and terms of their stay, and the situations under which immigrants could be deported from Ghana. In 1954, for example, several Nigerians were deported6.

During the colonial period, however, immigration was not successfully restricted. As a result, the rate of expulsion of foreigners during that period was not as high as it became in most African countries after independence. The presence of migrants and their reliance on the economy had not yet become a major political issue at the time. However, the most crucial motivation was that the colonial authorities desired a cheap labour force and tax payers. As a result, even if they were not directly imported by colonial administrations, migrants were safeguarded by colonial authorities in whichever countries they found themselves7.

Numerous immigration regulations were enacted under the CPP administration. There were laws that reserved certain areas of the economy for Ghanaians and others that were intended to attract foreign capital investment in Ghana, detailing the obligations of investors, investment protection, and incentives for investors. Despite these measures, many immigrants entered Ghana illegally, did not bother to legalize their stay, and entered specific sectors of the economy where Ghanaian law prohibited them from doing so.

Furthermore, it was widely assumed that the achievement of independence gave some countries with the opportunity to get rid of foreigners in their midst at a faster rate8. Indeed, after independence, expulsion and deportation became, and continue to be, typical policy measures aimed at illegal migrants living in African countries, particularly when the host countries’ economies began to suffer setbacks. Ghana, for example, deported Amadu Baba and Alhaji Lalemi, two leaders of the opposition National Liberation Movement in Kumasi, in 1958. 9Ghana ejected several Burkinabes once more in 196110. However, the rate of expulsion of immigrants in Ghana was not as high as previously thought. Even during the Nkrumah administration, deportations were mostly done for political reasons rather than for immigrants breaking immigration regulations.

The welcoming climate fostered by the colonial and Nkrumah administrations attracted numerous non-Ghanaians to enter Ghana and dominate the secondary sector of the economy. This was obviously a concern, but as long as there were no major setbacks in the economy and immigrants were doing jobs that locals did not want to do, the increasing number of immigrants did not matter all that much11. However, by the mid-1960s, the situation had altered. Ghana’s economy and social conditions have deteriorated. Ghana was hampered by a balance-of-payments imbalance, rising unemployment, and rising crime and smuggling levels12. A severe shortage of critical items struck the country in 1964 and lasted until the coup of 1966. Cocoa prices had also plummeted on the global market13. As a result, dissatisfaction with the immigrant population began to spread.

Despite the government’s efforts to rescue the situation, the country’s economy had not improved appreciably by the time the NLC handed over power to the civilian Progress Party. Furthermore, the issue of many immigrants and their economic activity in the country has not been thoroughly addressed. Before leaving office, the NLC determined that the country’s citizenship regulations should be changed so that in order to qualify as a Ghanaian, one must have at least one Ghanaian parent14. The NLC issued a directive to all missions of countries with nationals in Ghana in July 1969, demanding that they arrange for adequate registration and documentation of their citizens15.

According to reports, the directive was not taken seriously by the various embassies and high commissions. Thus, the Busia administration came to power with many illegal immigrants in the country and their dominance of some aspects of the economy, unemployment among Ghanaians, a shortage of foreign exchange exacerbated by monies repatriated by immigrants and traders, large-scale smuggling, and an allegedly high percentage of foreigners among criminals in the country. In response to these issues and other politically motivated considerations, the government decided to take decisive action16. As a result, on November 18, 1969, the Aliens Compliance Order was issued, providing a two-week grace period for any immigrants without residence permits to get them or leave the country by December 2, 196917.

The Aliens Compliance Order, as its name implies, required all immigrants who did not have residence permits, whether they were non-Ghanaian, Africans, or non-Africans, to comply with Ghana’s immigration laws, particularly the Aliens Act, 1963 (Act 160) and the Aliens (Amendment) Act (Act 265), both passed during Nkrumah’s era, as well as the NLC directive requiring all ille Though the Order was aimed to compel immigrants without residence permits to obtain the requisite travel documents, it resulted in the wholesale expulsion of foreigners, primarily Africans, because they were predominantly individuals who had not regularized their stay17.

By the time the Order was issued, the immigrant population was estimated to be around 2.5 million18, and some immigrant groups, particularly local-born immigrants, had become fully integrated into the country’s economic and social life and were contributing in various ways to Ghana’s economic and social development19. Because the 1969 Ghanaian mass expulsion of immigrants was not unlike to past expulsions in Africa and worldwide, it has been stated that the Busia government carried out the expulsion primarily for Ghana’s economic and security reasons. Other equally contending variables, however, were found to combine and conspire with Ghana’s economic and security problems, as happened in the case of other countries, to influence the government’s decision to issue the expulsion order. The abrupt mass departure of immigrants, particularly those in the labor force, had an influence on Ghana’s economic, social, and political life, as well as relations between Ghana and the countries whose nationals were affected by the expulsion order. The significance of the expulsion order, as well as the expulsion itself, deserves to be recognized and documented for the sake of clarity for the current generation and posterity.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

The expulsion of approximately two million immigrants from Ghana in 1969, as a result of the issuance and enforcement of the Aliens Compliance Order, was a watershed country in Ghana’s history. Despite this, no substantial endeavor has been dedicated solely to its examination and documentation. There is some literature on the issue, although it is dispersed and fragmented. The expulsion was divided into three parts: the circumstances that led to the issuance of the Aliens Compliance Order or the reasons for its issuance; the enforcement of the Order; and the impact of the Order. Due to the perspectives from which they address the subject, several publications focus on only one or two aspects of the expulsion, mainly its enforcement and impacts, leaving its origins and purpose out. Due to the apparent lack of extensive research into the expulsion, they give conflicting viewpoints even in their selectiveness. In many areas, for example, it is widely assumed that the Busia government issued the Aliens Compliance Order primarily due to xenophobic sentiments or at the request of international financial bodies20.Some scholars suggest that most Busia government policies were continuations of NLC policies, implying that there were political reasons for the expulsion; however, these reasons are not adequately explained for a better understanding. Other studies argue that the government’s actions were merely a continuation of a process begun by the NLC or even the Nkrumah dictatorship21.

In terms of how the order was carried out, some feel it was harsh, but others disagree. According to some studies, the expulsion caused the economy to virtually collapse, while others argue that it allowed Ghanaians to reclaim control of the economy from the hands of immigrants. Other aspects of the expulsion, such as the repercussions on relations between Ghana and the nations whose nationals were affected, are met with equally compelling opposing arguments.

As an order, there is conflict about how immigrants were treated prior to the Aliens Compliance Order, the objectives for which the Order was issued, how the Order was implemented, and the effects on Ghana and its foreign ties. The study’s problem is that the context in which the 1969 Aliens Compliance Order was enforced is not clearly understood. The disparities in viewpoints stated by various writers, as well as the incomplete nature of extant literature on the expulsion, have created a considerable gap in our knowledge and comprehension of the context in which the Order was implemented. If the problem is not overcome, the result will be not only more ignorance or a lack of understanding of what the order was all about, but also the mindless acceptance of only the partial viewpoints and conclusions of works to which readers have access. As a result, the researcher decided to do a thorough investigation of the Aliens Compliance Order and the expulsion of illegal immigrants in order to comprehend and account for the origins, implementation, and implications of the 1969 Ghanaian expulsion order in order to fill the void.

1.3 Purpose Of The Study

Events that affect the country and the lives of its people in all sectors shape the course of a nation’s history. Every significant event contributes to the accelerated or slow, positive or negative, socioeconomic and political development of a country, its people, institutions, and so on. In light of this, every significant event, regardless of its magnitude, deserves to be recognized and documented for the benefit of the current generation and, more importantly, for the use and direction of future generations.

The widespread expulsion of illegal immigrants from Ghana in 1969 was a key event in Ghana’s history, although extensive research and proper facts are scarce. The majority of people are aware that the expulsion order expelled immigrants from the country. Few people are aware of the circumstances that led to the Order’s issuance and enforcement, how the Order was actually implemented, and the effects the Order had on Ghana’s economic, social, and political lives. Some people are also unaware that the Ghana government’s actions impacted the country’s relations with other countries, particularly those with which it shares common borders and whose nationals were the most affected.

Only comprehensive research would provide a greater understanding of the context in which the expulsion order was implemented in 1969. Thus, using the internal-external approach and approaching the expulsion order from a historical perspective, the study traces the origins of the November 18, 1969 Aliens Compliance Order, examines how it was enforced, and evaluates the effects of the expulsion on Ghana itself and the nature of Ghana’s foreign relations during and after the expulsion exercise.Specifically, the study is aimed at:

  1. Examining the factors that have contributed to the increase in the immigrant population;
  2. Identifying previous measures dealing with immigration and the activities of immigrants in the country, as well as assessing the relative effectiveness of their enforcement prior to the issuance of the Aliens Compliance Order;
  3. Reassessing the possible reasons or objectives for which the Order was issued;
  4. Investigating how the decision was implemented;
  5. Investigating the economic, social, and political effects of the expulsion on Ghana and its relations with its neighbors; and
  6. Contributing to knowledge in the field of study by assisting in putting the expulsion order into historical perspective and presenting a well-researched work on the Ghanaian mass expulsion of 1969/1970.

1.4 Research Question

The following questions will guide this study:

  1. What are the factors driving the increase in the immigrant population?
  2. What were the previous measures dealing with immigration and the activities of immigrants in the country?
  3. What are the possible reasons or objectives for issuing the Aliens Compliance Order?
  4. How was the Aliens Compliance Order decision implemented into action?
  5. What are the economic, social, and political consequences of Ghana’s expulsion, as well as the effects on relations between Ghana and its neighbors?

1.5 Significance Of The Study

For a variety of reasons, the study is extremely relevant to the individual, the people of Ghana as a whole, Africa, and, in fact, anyone who wishes to learn more about the Aliens Compliance Order. It appears to be the first comprehensive scholarly investigation and historical assessment of the Aliens Compliance Order. The study is primarily useful for historians, students, lecturers, researchers, and the general reader. For these people, the study will provide a historical account of Ghana’s expulsion of illegal immigrants in 1969/1970. The study would also be useful as a guide for policymakers and implementers when developing foreign policies. It would also serve as a guide for migrants to be cautious and to follow the immigration laws of the country in which they find themselves.

The study can help immigration officers understand how to deal with immigrants and immigration issues. Since the police were bitterly accused of going above and beyond in carrying out their duties in the aftermath of the Order, the study would be extremely immense to the police today in terms of how to handle such situations. Economic planners would benefit from the study as well because, in addition to demonstrating the contribution of remittances to the countries of migrants’ origin to the detriment of the destination countries, it will also reveal the immigrants’ contribution to the economies of the countries of their destination.

It is also hoped that the study’s findings will instigate a more in-depth and scholarly examination of the formulation of government policies, both domestic and foreign. The study’s findings would also instigate a thorough study of migrations and expulsions in Africa from a historical standpoint.

Finally, the study has added to our understanding of migrations and expulsions in Africa. It is hoped that people who previously had a skewed understanding of the Aliens Compliance Order will now have a clear and complete understanding of what the Order was all about.

1.6. Scope Of The Study

The study is delimited to examining the origins, implementation and effects of Ghanaโ€™s Aliens compliance order.

1.7 Limitation Of The Study

The researcher acknowledged that, as with any study of this nature, certain issues were unavoidable. Accessing a large quantity of materials and informants who witnessed the expulsion encountered to be a significant problem. This was largely due to a lack of financial backing. The problem, however, was primarily due to people’s unpreparedness to grant interviews for political motives, as well as the destruction or loss of data or documents. The researcher revealed that numerous government institutions and private residences that could have provided valuable information had allegedly lost many documents. Certain key government documents, including the Aliens Compliance Order, could not be produced by any government office, including Parliament and the Public Records and Archival Administration Department. This forced the researcher to piece together information gathered from many secondary sources and verified by primary sources before drawing the necessary conclusions.

To supplement data gathered from secondary sources with primary data, the researcher conducted interviews with respondents. There could have been exaggerations, distortions, and the risk of respondents providing incorrect information, either intentionally or unintentionally. Some respondents may have been emotionally influenced by their political affiliations with or antipathy to the Progress Party.

Despite the fact that the researcher relied heavily on convenience samples, not everyone who was in Ghana at the time the order was enacted could be questioned because it was extremely difficult to identify and locate all such people for interviews. Many people who were alive at the time of the expulsion and could have offered vital information have now died. However, an effort has been made to guarantee that the study’s findings reflect the genuine picture of the expulsion order and the expulsion exercise, even though the size of certain occurrences will vary across the country.

The subject of international migration and expulsions is currently a major topic of debate in both academic and political circles. As a result, the topic merits a more extensive discussion than this. This would have been an impossible task to complete in the little time available for research.

The next limitation is one of chronology. Though the NRC, which followed the Busia administration, halted the implementation after briefly enforcing the decision, some of the long-term effects are still being noticed. The study, however, came to an end in the year 2000.

The researchers had also planned to travel to neighbouring countries to investigate the impact of the expulsion on the expellees themselves, but time restrictions and financial issues prevented them from doing so.

1.8 Methodology Of The Study

The researcher followed the accepted rules of the historical method in order to offer a high-quality work. The usual, analytical, and critical examination and description of historical evidence was used in the qualitative method. The researcher began the study by examining and studying the facts in the secondary sources that were pertinent to the study’s problem. Notes were meticulously taken during the data collection course to allow the researcher to understand the major ideas and important elements of the materials gathered, as well as the perspectives and conclusions of authors whose works were indispensable to the study.

In examining the study, both secondary and primary sources were utilised. As part of the historical requirement, the researcher began by reviewing the required secondary documents. Books, monographs, and brochures on economics, sociology, migration, and political science were obtained from the University of Cape Coast Central Library, the Department of History Library at the University of Cape Coast, the Balme Library and the Institute of African Studies Library at the University of Ghana, Legon, the Eastern Regional Library, and Koforidua, the Central Regional Library. The Graphic Communications, Accra, library was also accessed, and the researcher read some Daily Graphic articles there. Articles from other contemporary newspapers, journals, and magazines, as well as those available on the internet, were also consulted.

The secondary materials have been supplemented with information gathered from primary government records and field trip interviews. The researcher was unable to use archival information due to the loss or unavailability of many archival documents. Official documents could not also be accessed by government authorities at the time since the majority of them were purportedly burned when the Busia government was toppled in a military coup d’etat. Nonetheless, certain government records were obtained as a substitute for those that could not be accessed elsewhere. Numerous acts of the Parliament of Ghana, parliamentary debates, decrees of the NLC and NRC governments, and other valuable official documents were obtained from the Assembly Press in Accra, as well as the libraries of the University of Ghana’s Faculty of Law, the Parliament of Ghana, the Ghana News Agency, Ghana Law Reports, and the University of Cape Coast Library. These documents were extremely important for the study’s examination since they contained information on immigration rules during the colonial, Nkrumah, and NLC administrations. They also equipped the researcher with information regarding the expulsion debates in Parliament. Population censuses conducted in the country from the early twentieth century to 1970 were also investigated in order to determine the number of foreigners in Ghana and the areas of economic activity in which they were engaged to support the study. The number of foreign enterprises that were affected by the order and those that were allowed to operate was tallied.

During field trips, the researcher interviewed and engaged informal discussions with a variety of people who witnessed the expulsion exercise. Throughout history, the nature of the problem under investigation has determined the methodology used by a researcher, even though they all follow the same scientific procedure. First and foremost, the study is a retrospective one. It investigates an incident that had been in the annals of history for nearly 36 years at the start of the data-collection era for its analysis, 2006โ€“2008. As a result, the researcher ensured that the population for the study possessed the requisite characteristics that effectively fit the nature of the topic. The most important of these characteristics were that: (1) every member of the population was in Ghana prior to the launch of the Progress Party administration, or was in the country from the beginning of the Busia regime to the time of its removal from power; and (2) every member of the population was aware of the event and was a firsthand observer or primary witness (eye-witness) of the event. Because age was given a premium, an arbitrary decision was made to ensure that every member of the population was at least 18 years old by January, 1970, so that at the beginning of 2006, the youngest respondent would not be less than 54 years old if they were born before or in January, 1952.

During the Busia administration, a concerted effort was made to obtain interviews with members of parliament and government officials, but this proved extremely difficult. Only one former MP and deputy minister in the Busia government agreed to an interview with the researcher. Other people who had been targeted for interviews were likewise unable to be accessed. As a result, the researcher used the probability sampling technique within the context of the convenience sample. A probability sample is one that is chosen in such a way that each object or person in the population has a known (non-zero) chance of being included in the sample. As a result, the researcher shifted from looking for “particular people” to looking for “generic people for interviews.” As previously noted, all of these witnesses were “adults during the Busia administration and could reliably record occurrences.” These people provided the researcher with valuable information that either substantiated or refuted some of the secondary works’ perspectives and conclusions. The researcher got the opportunity to interview some current immigrants in Ghana who were affected by the expulsion but later returned to stay and continue their economic activities in Ghana. These people offered firsthand information about their own experiences as well as the experiences of their fellow deportees.

Both oral history and written documents had limitations, which the researcher was aware of. In reality, these limitations are quite visible. Concerning oral history, it was discovered that, while there was some coherence in the many tales, there were discrepancies and omissions in the way and manner in which informants provided their accounts. Because of the study’s political nature, some respondents may have had cunning tendencies to exaggerate, understate, or even alter facts. As a result, it was determined that all data acquired from respondents and written records needed to be carefully scrutinized and internally and externally critiqued in order to convey only true and dependable facts. Only information from people was recorded when compiling the facts. Information from interviewees whose data was second-hand, that is, they heard what they told from others, was not recorded unless substantiated by some eyewitnesses, as the idea of corroboration is as vital in history as it is in the law courts.

The researcher used narrative, descriptive, argumentative, and explanatory or interpretative approaches to tell the story. The narrative in the study provides an accurate description of events by displaying changes over time and in a thematic model. The study also explains the collection of events within “the event itself” by building relationships between them in both vertical and sequential patterns to provide readers a good picture of these events. The explanatory approach examines the facts and explains the identified relationships between the events to make the work more intelligible.

1.9 Organisation Of The Study

For clearer and better analysis of the information, the study has been divided into five main chapters with an introduction and conclusion. The chapters have been composed and arranged both chronologically and topically or thematically. The main idea was to produce a work that takes account of the chronology of events and interprets facts based on themes to make the work more interesting and comprehensible to readers.

The chapter one section comprises of the background of the study, statement of the problem, purpose or objectives of the study, research questions, significance of the study, scope of the study, methodology of the study, and organisation of the study.

Chapter Two discusses the causes of migration into Ghana, leading to the growth of the immigrant population. It explores both the internal and external dimensions of the causes of migration. The earlier measures dealing with immigration and the activities of immigrants in Ghana before the issuing of the Aliens Compliance Order in 1969.

Chapter Three analyses the Aliens Compliance Order itself and the reasons for which it was issued.

Chapter Four deals with the implementation of the expulsion order. The research was carried out in many parts of the country and people who witnessed the issuance of the Order and the departure of the affected immigrants were interviewed in an effort to examine the actual enforcement of the Order on the ground.

Chapter Five examines the economic, social, and political effects of the expulsion on Ghana. The effects were looked at from 1969 to 2000, especially in the political arena, since the consequences of the expulsion are still felt in Ghanaian politics today to some extent. An attempt has been made to find out whether these effects were positive, negative or middling. An analysis of the impact of the order on relations between Ghana and her neighbours has also been conducted. And then the conclusion shows the findings of the study and the observations made during the study.

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