The first Ghanaian–American candidate for a seat in the US Congress Kojo Asamoa-Caesar says he will continue to be a champion of Ghana even if he becomes a US legislator after the November elections.
He says his life has been shaped greatly by his Ghanaian heritage and he is very proud of that.
“I got my values from Ghana. My formative years was in Ghana. And they have played a significant role in my rise. I don’t run away from my Ghanaian heritage. I don’t run away from my mum’s story. I tell that story. So, Ghanaians can expect that I will be their champion.
“I will tell their story. Because their story is a part of this country. Ghanaians were part of the American story. They were part of building this country,” Asamoa-Caesar told Joy News in an interview.
Kojo Asamoah-Caesar made history on June 30, 2020, after winning 63.6% of votes cast to become the US Democratic Party’s candidate for the Oklahoma Congressional District 1 seat.
The district is currently represented by Republican Kevin Hern.
Apart from being the first-ever Ghanaian – American for congress, Kojo Asamoa-Caesar also becomes the first-ever first-generation American, first-ever black person to win the nomination in the district, first-ever resident of North Tulsa, and the youngest ever Democratic nominee to run for U.S. Congress.
Asamoa-Caesar was born to Ghanaian parents in Alexandria-Virginia, USA. His mother hails from Ejisu–Beasease in the Ashanti Region. At the age of two, he relocated to Ghana to live with his mother’s family at Sakaman in Accra. He left for the US eight years later. In 2008, he visited Ghana again and said that was when his ideas of wanting to become a leader were formed.
“I came back to Ghana in 2008 right after I graduated from college. And together with my next-door neighbor, we were having a conversation, and we were talking about Hurricane Katharina. And he was like, ‘that was the first time I had seen that kind of poverty in America. I thought America was a land flowing with milk and honey.’ And he asked me; ‘is the American dream really real?’” Asamoah-Caesar told Joy News.
“And that question really hit me hard. Because I was coming back to Ghana in a celebratory mood. But here he is challenging that notion of the American dream being real. So, I decided then that I was going to dedicate my life to ensuring that the answer to that question is; the American dream is real and its real because I did something to make it real not only for myself but for more and more people. And that is how I defined my life,” he explained.
Asamoah-Caesar said he decided to sign on to become a kindergarten classes teacher in Oklahoma despite graduating from law school because he wanted to help others fulfill the American dream. That same vision is what has led him to run for Congress.
“I specifically chose to run for congress because in Oklahoma, a lot of political positions is occupied by Republicans and so I felt I needed to go over their head to the federal level to ensure they are actually doing what needs to happen so that we can ensure not only one segment of society is succeeding but everyone is succeeding.
“And with my immigrant story, at the federal level, whilst Donald Trump is saying that what makes America great is to build walls, I knew that what really makes America great is that it is a nation of immigrants. Of people like my mum and my dad who come here to sacrifice and work hard. Instead of building walls, we need to build bridges. Whether to African nations or to people around the world or to each other, right here in the USA,” he explained.
Asamoah-Caesar said his priorities are education and opportunity, health and economic security, justice and equity, environment and infrastructure. He is confident of victory on November 3, when Americans go to the polls to elect a new president and legislators.
“You combine Trump and his mishandling of the Covid-19 crisis and his mishandling of the racial unrest, and the economy tinkling because he’s mishandled this thing. And you have a path to victory because you have a lot of people looking for change,” he told Joy News.
“We don’t just want to celebrate on election day. And nothing changes for the rest of our lives. My election is gonna mean that we have not only somebody who looks like us but someone we are gonna have hope in. Somebody who is gonna speak the truth about our experience. Who is gonna tell the essential story about America… I want to represent not just hope but the possibility of true change in peoples’ lives,” he said.
Asamoah-Caesar is urging Ghanaians to live their lives to the fullest, firm in their minds that they are as good as people from all over the world.
“It was sad when I returned to Ghana after being gone at 10 and returning as a 22 year old, I saw this level of inferiority complex and defeatism of certain people…which I understand, if your government is not doing right by you, if there is not a lot of job opportunity, it can be depressing.
“What I want for Ghanaians is for us to know that we are just as smart, talented, charismatic, and capable as anybody on this planet,” he said.