Must Ghana Go?

The Medallion for the Contemporary African Immigrant. 
By Artist Rosine Kouamen

The Medallion for the Contemporary African Immigrant is an installation from the Coming Through the Gap in the Mountain Exhibition on view at the University Museum of Texas Southern.

The medallion is made out of bags known as “Ghana must go". This durable check print duffel like bag is a cheap alternative for people often used as general luggage, a tremendous assortment of belongings can fit into just one Ghana Must Go Bag.

The History
In the late 1960's, due to major economic concerns, along with the belief that immigrants caused or exacerbated many of the social ills plaguing Ghana and Nigeria respectively, both nations created strict anti-immigration policies.   In 1969, Ghana enacted the Aliens Compliance Order, in which hundreds of thousands of immigrants, mostly Nigerian, were expelled from the country.  In 1983, Nigeria introduced the Expulsion Order, in which the government ordered over 2 million immigrants to leave, most of which were Ghanaian. Ghanaians had to flee rapidly from Nigerian and resorted to these Nigerian bags that lead to a revolution in the Nigerian luggage.  Basically anyone at the time carrying the bag was identified as Ghanaian and was obviously leaving Nigeria to go back home. 

Circa 2013
Ghana Must Go Bags are still in use and are sold all over the world. The bags also have made their way into the fashion world. Designers like Louis Vuitton have incorporated bags into their collections, making both a statement and history.


  1. It is great to see artwork that clearly links history to present day events and social status.

  2. I just had a great convo with two young Nigerian Americans. Teaching me about some of the relationships between Nigeria, and Ghana.The indentities are so nuanced and complicated. They were Igbo, American, Nigerian, and repping 3rd ward. Dope

  3. For me, it's also about the multiplicity of language, communication and location.
    Information that is hidden in plain sight and can be utilized whenever for those who in the familiar.

    1. This is so true, honestly I have seen these bags everywhere and never knew where the history behind it.


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