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Muhammad Ali Enjoys Ghana

May 18, 1964 - Muhammad Ali told President Kwame Nkrumah (left) today that he liked Ghana so much he intended to build a house and spend at least three months of the year there.

The world heavyweight champion, garbed in sandals and bright orange and blue kente cloth — Ghana’s national dress — said he considered his trip to Africa “a return to the fatherland.”

Ali and his entourage chatted with Nkrumah for about 15 minutes in Flagstaff House, Nkrumah’s official residence.

Ali emerged from the meeting gripping autographed copies of Nkrumah’s latest books, “Consciencism,” a philosophical work, and “Africa Must Unite.”

The meeting capped a long morning of wild public appearances in which Ali was nearly mobbed — and loved every minute of it.

Ali has been in Ghana only two days, but already seasoned observers agree that his visit has made the biggest impact there since Gene Kelly arrived last January on a State Department tour.

Ali’s first stop today was at the U.S. Embassy, the scene of anti-American demonstrations less than four months ago.

Today, hundreds of Government clerks and civil servants poured from nearby ministries as soon as word spread that the champion had arrived.

After a brief courtesy call on Ambassador William Mahoney, Ali was engulfed by the crowd as he tried to make his way to his limousine.

“Who’s the king?” Ali shouted.

“You are!” the crowd roared back.

“Okay,” said Ali, beaming, “let me through then.” The crowd parted, and the champion sped a half-mile away for a tour of Accra Stadium, where yet another mob was waiting.

There is one marked difference between Kelly’s visit and Ali’s stay. Kelly was seen as the glamorous Hollywood star, and he acted the part — singing, dancing, and lecturing to huge overflow audiences.

Ali has not only played up his role as a celebrity but has completely identified with “my African brothers.”

As Ali said on his arrival last Saturday, “I am proud to be back home.”

This theme crops up every time he makes a speech at a public function.

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