According to President Akufo-Addo, Ghana recognises its unique position as the location for 75 per cent of the slave dungeons built on the West coast of Africa, through which the slaves were transported, adding that “we have a responsibility, and we do extend a hand of welcome back home to Africans in the diaspora.”
2019 marks the 400-year anniversary of the first recorded arrival, in 1619, of the first twenty (20) enslaved Africans in the Commonwealth of Virginia, which was to become part of the United States of America, initiating some of the most barbaric episodes in human history – the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and slavery.
The President, therefore, was hopeful that “the year would prove to be a joyful and learning experience all around for all of us, especially in affirming our determination that never again should the African peoples permit themselves to be subjected to such dehumanising conditions, sold into slavery, and have their freedoms curtailed in order to build up forcibly countries other their own.”
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Thursday, 13th June 2019, when he addressed the media after he held bilateral discussions with the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency Keith Rowley.
After the launch of the ‘Year of Return’ in Washington D.C.,Ghana continued with the December 2018 Full Circle Festival, involving over 70 African American celebrities visiting Ghana to reconnect with their ancestral heritage.
Additionally, the Home Coming and Investment Summit, the African-American Investment Forum, the Pan-African and Emancipation Day Celebrations, the durbar from Jamestown to Jamestown, the Film Festival, and the Full Circle Festival are some of the activities that will be held to commemorate the year-long event.
“The commemoration should enable us, in the African Union, to consolidate and strengthen our links with our Sixth Region, i.e. the African Diaspora of the so-called ‘New World’, which have laid somewhat dormant, and make operational and extend the Free Movement Protocol to those in the Diaspora seeking to resettle in Africa,” the President stressed.
Kofi Kingston arrived in Ghana yesterday to a big celebration at Kotoka International Airport. Fans and students who couldn’t wait to see the WWE Champion celebrated through song and dance. Kingston joined in with the crowd dancing to the beat as the Ghana flag was draped over him with cheers from the crowd. Even Kotoka International Airport staff were following him taking selfies as he made his way through after customs.
His mother, Dr. Elizabeth Sarkodie-Mensah, along with other family members were there to meet him and were equally overwhelmed with the big reception and couldn’t believe the crowd waiting for him outside the airport. This is his first trip back to Ghana since 1993 and he is eager to reconnect with his homeland. He said that one of his biggest regrets was not coming sooner. Kingston recounted the story of his father, who often travelled to Ghana and brought groups of students with him. He said that as a senior in high school, his priority was to find work rather than make a trip to Ghana.
He said once he was ready to come to Ghana, his hectic schedule has made it challenging to find the time. At the media press-conference, he said that sometimes things happen for a reason because he believes the stars were all aligned for him to make this journey to Ghana during the “Year of Return”. It’s an important time for people in the diaspora to come to Ghana.
He will be spending four days in the country, with time divided between Accra and Kumasi. His first day was jam-packed with a press conference, interviews with the media and a visit to the Jubilee House to meet President Nana Akufo-Addo.
He’s had an eleven-year career and has proven that with hard work, success is possible. “It was a matter of staying the course…. I’m here as living breathing proof that anything is possible.” Many who were seeing him for the first time, were surprised at how small he is, relative to the typical athlete in WWE. He often hears those remarks and said, “I’m not the tallest or the biggest person…but I had dreams and I believed in it.” His perseverance and level of commitment to living his childhood dream prove that success can be achieved with hard work. “Not many people on the planet can say they are living their dream, I’m doing that.”
When Lakeshia Ford decided she was going to pack up her life and her budding career and move from New Jersey to Ghana, her family could not understand why she wanted to make the trek to a country thousands of miles from home. Even more surprising, to some, was Ford’s reason: the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The incident, which set off protests across the United States, was a tipping point for the 30-year-old Ford and her relationship with the country of her birth.
“Mike Brown got shot and it just put this huge distaste in my mouth for, like, the country and the flag and what it means to be American and representing the American flag,” Ford says. “I felt very detached from that identity. I felt very excluded.” While that feeling was certainly shared by many across the country, Ford is part of a small but growing group of black Americans who have become so fed up with racism in the United States that they have decided to move to Africa.
“I remember a moment. I remember sitting on my bed and visualizing like … a transition,” Ford recalls. “You know that image of Mike Brown with the blood, and he was just [lying] there [in the street]? The animation in my mind was like he rose with that blood and turned into water, and I floated back. Well, I didn’t float back, but basically, I use that blood in the water to get back to Africa.”
Four years later, Ford sits in a trendy hotel bar in Accra, the capital of Ghana, a small coastal nation in West Africa. As dusk settles, she sips water after a long day of work while other patrons laugh and catch up with friends. A communications professional with a background in finance and international relations, Ford once dreamed of serving as a foreign diplomat, but she soured on the idea of representing the United States abroad. Instead, she came here and set up her own business, Ford Communications, a strategic communications and public relations boutique. Ford found a niche servicing Ghana’s booming tech industry.
The daughter of Jamaican immigrants who moved to the United States in the 1980s, Ford spent her formative years in East Orange, New Jersey. Those years were tough but grounded in the American dream. “I never knew we were poor,” she says. “I had everything that I needed.” She excelled at academics, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and a master’s from American University. Internships took her to places like China, South Africa and Ghana, which she first visited in 2008.
“I had the time of my life, and I felt more [at] home here than I ever did in the States and Jamaica,” she recalls. “It was just this really weird internal experience that was just like … peace.” She returned in the summer of 2013, during graduate school, to work for the United Nations information centre in Accra, and again in 2014, as a Boren Fellow.
The next year, after her vision following the Michael Brown incident, she decided to try moving to Ghana, despite having no job or prospects lined up — a decision that did not sit well with her family.
“Americans, you know how people think about Africa,” she says. “They think it’s all jungles, people living in trees. It’s so crazy how that narrative has survived.”
Now, Ford works with firms like the financial tech companyMazzuma, which launched a cryptocurrency to make mobile payments easier, and the data mining companyViotech. She works out of a suburban coworking space, and after waking up at 5 a.m. to pray and meditate, she gets her emails done before driving off to meetings. Sometimes she jumps on a motorbike to avoid the snarl of cars that choke the city.
Ford’s move is part of a larger trend of African-Americans and Ghanaian-Americans moving back to the continent and Ghana specifically. Members of the African-American Association of Ghana estimate that about 5,000 African-Americans are currently living in Accra, a sharp increase from about 1,000 a decade ago. The influx of skilled workers is helping to grow several industries in the country, particularly technology.
Nestled between the Ivory Coast and Togo, Ghana has long been a refuge for African-Americans seeking to escape America’s ugly side. In 1962, poet, novelist and civil rights activist Maya Angelou moved here with her son, Guy. She lived in Accra and worked at the University of Ghana for three years. She found a tight-knit community of other African-Americans who had fled the United States to evade Jim Crow and racism and were drawn to the new nation headed by president Kwame Nkrumah, who was educated in America.
Today, Ghana’s capital is bubbling with energy. It is laid-back yet bursting at the seams. Congestion that would test the most patient person is ever-present, yet the people are friendly and peaceful. The city is a mix of cosmopolitan, with impressive architectural offerings like the National Theater, and developing city, with the hustle and bustle of haphazard urban planning. Above all, as one would expect in Ghana, it is a place where black faces are everywhere. The daredevil weaving in and out of traffic on a motorbike: black. The manager in the bank: black. The celebrity on a billboard, trying to persuade you to try her jollof rice: black.
For people like Ford, that blackness, combined with the energy of a booming economy, makes it an attractive place. The country’s gross domestic product grew by 7.4 percent in the third quarter of 2018, and the World Bank projected that the nation would be one of the fastest growing economies that year.
On the tech side, the information technology sector in Ghana grew by double-digits in 2016, outperforming the economy as a whole, according to theOxford Business Group. The highest rate of mobile penetration in sub-Saharan Africa, and widely available WiFi, contribute to Accra’s appeal as a destination for tech start-ups, luring both African-Americans and Ghanaian-born people who had previously settled in the United States.
Yaa Cuguano, 36, first arrived in the United States at the age of 14. She recalls landing at Kennedy Airport in frigid December weather, wearing a T-shirt and jeans: “My mom’s uncle met us and gave us these windbreaker jackets. It was snowing, and I went right back inside.”
In 2014, after more than 20 years in America, Cuguano moved back to Ghana. Her parents and siblings still live in the United States, but she had tired of the rat race, the explosion of racial issues and the weather. Though Cuguano is a U.S. citizen, her country of birth would provide the consanguinity she needed.
Cugano works at MPharma, an e-health company co-founded by another returned Ghanaian-American, Gregory Rockson, and backed by Silicon Valley venture capital firms. A 2017 report found that African companies received more than $500 million in venture capital, a 53 percent increase from the previous year.
At MPharma’s bungalow-like offices in a suburb of Accra, a hammock sits in the corner of the front yard, and a Maltese-poodle nips at visitors’ heels. Cuguano, who had lived in Washington, Illinois, California and New York, is serene but pointed when she explains the move. Her long, slender hands gesticulate to emphasize.
“So the moment I decided to move to Ghana, it had to do with the Trayvon Martin verdict. I was very affected by that. I was like, ‘What the hell?’ I just saw that things were happening differently than in the America that I had known.”
She says life here is less materialistic. “I feel at peace here,” she says. In the United States, she laments, people “just keep chasing and keep chasing, chasing, chasing.” In Ghana, “I have a lot of work, but I have a lot of time to just think and just be, you know? The way I live here is just very minimal.”
Another major plus is not being judged by her skin colour, as she says she often was in America. She had been a team leader at an educational product firm in New York and has degrees from three universities, but she always felt undermined.
“In America, all the places I worked at, I was always the only black woman in my team,” she says. “In New York, one of the places I worked at, it was a very — I would call it a hostile environment. … It was just very hard to work with them because there always was an objection to everything I said or suggested.”
At MPharma, she is spearheading a product that uses mobile technology to enable patients to access medicine more efficiently. And she doesn’t have to worry about people judging her by her skin colour, because most people look like her.
Paul Miller Owusu, 38, is a tech entrepreneur who moved to Ghana in 2017 after living in the United States since he was a child and working at Silicon Valley companies Yammer, GBox and Chime. Like Cuguano, he says that incidents like the Trayvon Martin case were a catalyst for his move — as was a much more personal interaction with police.
“I think it was three weeks after the Trayvon dismissal,” he recalls. “I was coming home from work in Mountain View, and I was literally around the corner from where Facebook headquarters is, and I was pulled over by a cop. They were looking for a stolen car. The car that I was driving was whiter than the skin colour” — and not at all the colour of the car police were looking for. “I thought it was very bogus.”
He continues: “And at that moment I felt very angry, to put it lightly.” Owusu made the move alone, leaving his young family behind. He still travels back to see them and has not made a decision about whether they will join him in Ghana yet.
Owusu acknowledges that the United States provided him with the building blocks of his success, but he says Ghana has a magnetic pull that allows him to be centred.
“I can unplug from work and not worry about anything,” he says. “In the States, you’re constantly plugged in, so work-life balance is just nonexistent. People will say it, but I think it’s like complete B.S. … Work-life balance in Ghana is really good; there is a lot of freedom in the way I move around.”
Since moving back to Ghana, Owusu has launched multiple companies, including a peer-to-peer and remittance company called SIKA, and raised $4.8 million from a Ghanaian investor for LOGIQUE, a tech accelerator and incubator.
While the gravity of race relations and the pull of a friendlier place have attracted people like Ford, Cuguano and Owusu, Ghana has embarked on a mission to siphon talented individuals.
Akwasi Akua Ababio, director of diaspora relations for the office of the president, believes the political situation in the West could be a boon for countries like Ghana.
“While it is unfortunate that geopolitics in the West has taken an uncomfortably insular turn, personally I consider it an opportunity to attract the energy, skills, and knowledge of people of African descent to the continent,” he says. “It is time for African nations to put measures in place to attract and sustain people of African descent here on the continent.”
At the beginning of 2019, the Ghanaian government rolled out the red carpet for African-Americans and the diaspora under the banner Year of Return.Throughout the year, there’ll be events marking the abolition of 400 years of the slave trade and encouraging people of African descent from all over the world to come to Ghana to network and invest.
David Hutchful, a software designer and an expert in the Ghanaian tech space, says the industry has grown in the past three decades, attracting highly skilled people and investors. He thinks this development has led to more individuals from the United States moving back.
“When I think about technology in Ghana, when I first came it was very different, but I feel like it is now growing, and we are beginning to carve out an identity for ourselves,” he says.
Hutchful, who has worked in tech in the United States and India, says Ghana’s tech space has grown from one that developed mostly software for government systems to one where a start-up and entrepreneurial ecosystem is thriving. Hutchful was born in Ghana and went to school in Zimbabwe and the United States. He thinks the movement of African-Americans and Ghanaian-Americans back to the country bodes well for the continued growth of the tech industry.
“What Africa really needs now are people called links — people who have legs in both places — because there’s a lot of transfer of skills and knowledge and understanding. If I were to think about African-Americans beginning to redefine kind of a new adventure for themselves, I think them serving [as] that link then would be great,” he says.
Ford says she hopes more Africans in the diaspora move back to the continent, or at least travel there.
“Black people need to come to Africa, even if they are visiting,” she says. “I won’t say everybody needs to move back — I don’t think that is a good solution — but it’s a pilgrimage that every black person needs to have.”
France24 has in a report looked at how Ghana is increasingly becoming home to hundreds of African-Americans especially in light of the on-going ‘Year of Return, Ghana 2019’ campaign. The report looks at the lives of some African-Americans who have settled in Ghans over the years. Read and watch the report below.
Ghana was one of the main West African departure points for the transatlantic slave trade. Today, the government has launched a campaign to reach out to the descendants of those Africans who were forcibly removed from their homelands. It has dubbed 2019 the “year of return“. Several hundred people have already put down roots in Ghana, many of them African-Americans. Our colleagues from France 2 report, with FRANCE 24‘s James Vasina.
This article comes on the heels of other reviews published earlier in the year.
Watch the programme/video report prepared by Patrick Lovett and James Vasina below.
The “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” is a major landmark spiritual and birth-right journey inviting the Global African family, home and abroad, to mark 400 years of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Jamestown, Virginia. The arrival of enslaved Africans marked a sordid and sad period, when our kith and kin were forcefully taken away from Africa into years of deprivation, humiliation and torture. While August 2019 marks 400 years since enslaved Africans arrived in the United States, “The Year of Return, Ghana 2019” celebrates the cumulative resilience of all the victims of the Trans Atlantic slave Trade who were scattered and displaced through the world in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.
The Ghana Tourism Authority(GTA) under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture is leading the project in collaboration with the Office of Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the President the PANAFEST Foundation and The Adinkra Group of the USA.
One of the main goals of the Year of Return campaign is to position Ghana as a key travel destination for African Americans and the African Diaspora. In 2019, the events planned throughout the year will serve as a launch pad for a consistent boost in tourism for Ghana in the near and distant years. Beyond tourism, this initiative supports one of the President’s key developmental agendas in Ghana Beyond Aid. We know that tourism can be a leading indicator to business and investment.
We are focused on ensuring that our brothers and sisters have a safe, pleasant and wonderful journey home so they will want to come back, get involved, see the opportunity that exists in Ghana for us to work together and begin to rebuild what has been stolen and lost over the past 400 years.
The much-awaited Ghana Tourism Awards to honour deserving facilities in the tourism industry in Ghana for the year 2018 was held at The Event Haven, La on Friday, March 22, 2019. In all 29 awards were presented to organisations and individual in Accommodation, Food and beverage and Entertainment, Travel Trade and Media. In addition, honorary awards were given to six (6) personalities who have contributed to the growth and the development of the Tourism Industry over the years.
The National Tourism Awards was instituted by the Ghana Tourism Authority in 1997 to reward excellent performance in the tourism sector.
It is one of the flagship events of the GTA held annually and it sets the tone for high standards in service delivery among practitioners in the tourism sector.
Awards, including honorary awards, are presented to practitioners and organisations who have made maintained high standards and individuals who have made immense contributions to the growth and development of Ghana’s tourism industry.
The award usually attracts high profile personalities in government, business, politics, academia and practitioners within the tourism industry.
It’s the weekend already, and there’s no excuse not to let off some steam from our busy schedules. So, grab your fav heels/shoes, that sexy dress and let’s hit town. Don’t worry about your location, we’ve got you covered with these 10 hottest nightclubs in town.
Hello there night owls, do you want to know the Do’s and Don’ts?
Nightlife is absolutely a way of life. Yep, it’s not just about stepping out to have fun but you need to be well and truly taken care off. Let’s go over some rules to ensure you have a proper clubbing experience.
LIST OF THE BEST 10 NIGHTCLUBS IN GHANA
Situated in the penthouse of Icon House in Accra, located a floor above the urban grill restaurant. With their eye-catching décor, giving the whole atmosphere a surreal experience. Carbon Night is one of the trendiest night places in Accra.
This cool nightclub is located in Nyaniba Estates and is considered as one of the best nightclubs in town. Best to get a table reservation in advance to avoid all that hassle at the gate.
The perfect place for some mid-week stress out. As one of the best nightclubs in Ghana, Firefly is sure to add a new twist to your Wednesday night out.
Ghana’s longest existing nightclub which still demands an appearance, Twist definitely has a spot at the best 10 nightclubs in Ghana. Still got the mad hype, long queues and slay queens. This is the place to be on a Saturday night to get noticed.
Fridays are the busiest for Champs. They start the weekend with karaoke which runs into the night as popular DJ’s take up the wheel. Go dancing into the wee hours of dawn at Ghana’s best nightclub.
Formerly known as Rockstone’s Office, it is one of the best nightclubs you can find in Ghana. Located in Accra’s trendy neighbourhood, Cantonments. It is popular for its corporate and lush crowd. Looking to revamp your business contact list? Be here.
The newest and hottest nightclub in Accra and one of the best in Ghana. Club Onyx is the place to be and get noticed on a Saturday night. New memories, new friends, new experiences. Who doesn’t love a new place?
Duplex club is one of the longest existing clubs which has earned a place on the best 10 nightclubs in Ghana. Still providing clubbers a good time on the dance floor.
Great place for playing snooker whilst admiring stripers, Hotgossip, known as one of the hottest night places in Accra is located in Osu. A few 100 meters from the Shisha lounge, it definitely pulls its own crowd.
What seemed to be the last major event on the tourism calendar for 2018 did not disappoint patrons. The 2018 Culture Afrochella dubbed #afrochella18 came off at the El-wak Sports Stadium on Saturday December 29, 2018 bringing traffic to a stand-still.
The beautifully and artistically designed entrance was just a foretaste of what was in-stock for patrons. From afrocentric dressing to woodcraft, acrobatic display to foot’pool’, eye-opening paintings to giant candies, the photo opportunities were endless but requiring phones with extra memory space for selfies.
The music was just ‘afrocentrically’ riveting as the food caused taste buds to produce excess saliva. Crowning it all was the evening musical performances that left no room for parking for patrons who arrived late. Patrons are already looking forward to the 2019 edition and organizers have promised nothing but a more exciting event.