Accepted paper:

Grounding 'Ghana Must Go': Nigeria and Ghana's Mass Expulsions in the Decades After Independence


Samuel Fury Childs Daly (Duke University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers the history of Nigeria and Ghana's dueling expulsions of one another's nationals in the decades after independence. It traces the processes underlying state-driven expulsion, and it addresses the social historical question of what happened to those who were expelled.

Paper long abstract:

Beginning in the late 1960s, the Nigerian and Ghanaian governments staged large-scale forced removals of one another's nationals, culminating in the 1983 deportation of over one million Ghanaians under civilian president Shehu Shagari. Colloquially known as the "Ghana Must Go" policy, these episodes had major economic and political effects in both countries. This paper will explore the legal grounding of the expulsions, analyzing how the colonial-era jurisprudence of domicile and inter-colony migration shaped acts of individual and state-sponsored expulsion after independence. What grounds did municipalities, regions, or colonies have to expel 'strangers'? This was not a settled matter, and a patchwork of ideas about domicile emerged across Britain's West African dependencies. After independence, domicile remained a source of dispute, and it became more contentious as colonial administrative boundaries hardened into national citizenships. The main sources for the paper are legal records and commissions of inquiry preserved at the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies in Lagos. Legal records from this period provide two things. First, they reveal how postcolonial governments balanced the desire to integrate labor markets (sometimes under the banner of pan-Africanism) against populist demands to prevent citizens from other African states from settling in Nigeria. Second, they provide a view of the social history of the expulsion; court cases and government inquiries narrate how individuals justified acts of xenophobia, and how deportees responded to their forcible removal.

panel His20
Who belongs to the new nations? Inclusion, expulsion and xenophobia in early post-independence West Africa (1957-1973)