The Hands Across Africa team paid a courtesy call on the Deputy Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Mark Okraku-Mantey on 28th June, 2022, at the Ministry.
The Goodwill Ambassador of St. Lucia, Taj Weekes who led the delegation stated that one of the major goals of this agenda is to look at the seven pillars of the Beyond The Return initiative, which is “Give Back to Ghana,” as well as donating to charity.
He also noted that the Hands Across Africa Musical Festival and Expo under the banner of THEY OFTEN CRY OUTREACH (TOCO) is in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC), Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Diaspora Affairs – Office of the President, Beyond The Return Secretariat (BTR) and Yoks Investment Ltd. is set to take place on July 23, 2022, at the Accra Sports Stadium under the theme, “Re-igniting the Spirit of Emancipation”.
He revealed that some of the Top International and Ghana’s finest artists who will be performing at the Hands Across Africa Music Festival and Expo are; MzVee, Brinsley Forde (Aswad), Eric Donaldson, Okyeame Kwame, DSP Kofi Sarpong, Blakk Rasta, Roc Riva, Taj Weekes and many more.
The Deputy Minister, Hon. Mark Okraku- Mantey, as part of his remarks, assured the team that the Ministry is ready to support TOCO FOUNDATION AND HANDS ACROSS AFRICA to achieve their stated objectives and vision in Ghana.
He noted that the Ministry is delighted to have Mr. Taj Weekes (Founder of TOCO Foundation) and his wife, Mrs Angela Serieux Weekes and that Ghana is ready to welcome diasporans into our communities because we, Ghanaians, want to give them a sense of belonging.
He added that Ghanaians recognize them as part of us and will be delighted to collaborate with them as one people because we are all Africans.
The Deputy Minister urged the Ghana Tourism Authority and the Beyond the Return Secretariat as well as the Private Sector, GHATOF and the Trade Associations to also give TOCO FOUNDATION and HANDS ACROSS AFRICA the necessary push to make the Musical Concert and Expo a success. He took the opportunity to invite Ghanaians to the 2022 Emancipation Day Celebrations under the theme, ” Our Heritage, Our Strength” and sub-themed, “Re-engaging to consolidate our developmental agenda”.
He assured Mr Taj weekes and his wife of the Ministry’s support and thanked them for their philanthropic work and concert they have put together to give back to the Ghanaian society.
Since Taj Weekes and his team were in Ghana for the Year of Return and now Beyond the Return, he assured them that the Ministry is currently working on the Homeland Return Bill that would allow diasporans to be fully integrated into the Ghanaian society to have a permanent abode in the country when finally passed by Parliament. This will give our fellow Diasporans the opportunity to have privileges that every Ghanaian enjoys thereby giving them an Identity.
The Founder and Executive Director of TOCO, Taj Weekes, a Goodwill Ambassador of the Government of Saint Lucia and UNICEF Ambassador for children in the Eastern Caribbean expressed appreciation to the Deputy Minister, Hon. Mark Okraku – Mantey for the opportunity to outline their vision and support from the Ministry in diverse ways.
He was emphatic that The Hands Across Africa Festival and Expo is conceptualized as a cross- continent initiative starting in Ghana and its aim and objective is to establish the youth and Sports Development Programs and also to support in providing funded international football scholarship programmes
He noted that both Local and International charitable organizations are collaborating to bring relief to the Ghanaian youth. The social outreach initiative called Hands Across Africa by They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO) has it’s overarching philosophy that children are our collective heritage; ones we should safeguard with inclusion and affirmation strategies.
HANDS ACROSS AFRICA (Festival & Expo) leverages its platform to help the youth to expand their network and through this exposure, imagine new possibilities, which can create a shift in the trajectory of their lives. The premiere edition will take place in Ghana on 23rd July, 2022 (TOCO Foundation https://www.theyoftencryoutreach).
Taj Weekes confirmed that the charity has provided 76 football scholarships to children in the Caribbean, and that they are in Ghana to replicate the charitable work they have been doing there.
His Excellency Taj Weekes added that Hands Across Africa focuses on cultural exchange and social intervention programs to raise funds in supporting society to reduce socio – economic gaps related to needs such as Education,under privileged children, young persons with disabilities and Public health concerns in Ghana and across the African continent. Proceeds from the Concert however, will go to charity.
Present in the meeting were Goodwill Ambassador, Taj Weekes (Founder and Chairman of TOCO Foundation – Hands Across Africa), Mrs Angela Serieux Weekes (Co-Founder and Creative Director of TOCO Foundation – Hands Across Africa), Mr. Seth Ocran( President of Car Rentals Association, (YOKS Investments) and President, TOCO Foundation Ghana), Rev. Jones Aruna Nelson (Director, Corporate Affairs, Ghana Tourism Authority), Kofi Atta Kakra Kusi (Principal CA Officer, GTA), Mrs Constance Adomaa Takyi (PRO, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture ), Elorm Beenie, Creative Content Director of Hands Across Africa, and Duah Janet Princess , National Service Personal at the Ministry