Migration from and to Ghana: A Background Paper

Type Working Paper - Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalization and Poverty Working papers
Title Migration from and to Ghana: A Background Paper
Issue C4
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2003
URL http://www.migrationdrc.org/publications/working_papers/WP-C4.pdf
In the words of Mansell Prothero, migration movements ‘have been a feature of Africa in the
past and are one of its most important demographical features at the present day’ (Anarfi
1982). International migration within West Africa, and between the region and the rest of the
continent, dates back to time immemorial (Arhin 1978). The trans-Saharan caravan routes are
among the earliest evidence of major interaction between West and North Africa for trading and
exchange of scholars (Boahen 1966). Ibn Batuta, writing in the fifteenth century, and Leo
Africanus, writing later in the sixteenth century, both made mention of the peaceful movement
of people across ethnic boundaries (Batuta 1929; Africanus 1896). The presence of
Europeans on the West Coast from the 1400s onwards disrupted the then existing north-south
movement of people and goods. However, the contact with Europeans created new patterns of
movement, first through slave trade and later colonisation, within the sub-region and with the
rest of the world (Boahen 1966). The new dynamics that emerged continue to the present day.
Virtually all the ethnic groups in present Ghana claim to have emigrated from somewhere other
than their present location (Boahen 1975). Moreover, within the current international
demarcation of African countries’ borders, it is difficult to track international migrants, especially
along borders themselves. In most cases, the same ethnic groups are found on the opposite
sides of an international boundary and, therefore, interact with other countries. As a result,
borders are porous and some people may not consider themselves as international migrants
even though they cross international boundaries to visit relations (Anarfi, Awusabo-Asare et al.

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