Over the weekend the maiden Global African Diaspora Kumasi Carnival 2019 was held in Kumasi. There was so much energy and the connection between the Caribbean Diaspora and local Ghanaians was strong. Powerful words were spoken by many about staying connected.
Supporting the event was Miss Trinidad & Tobago UK who said for her “Ghana feels like home”.
This is the first, and organisers hope to continue it as an annual event and celebration that attracts travellers every year.
A group from Suriname was there and made some strong statements about coming back home to Ghana and wanting to be embraced by Ghana.
Just before the procession began, the Suriname group wanted to express themselves.
It carnival procession ended with Street Fair and a variety show in the evening.
The Miss Heritage Global pageant is not like any other beauty pageant. According to Mudzithe Phiri, Business Development Manager of Miss Heritage Global, it’s an international event that is bringing together culture ambassadors from around the world. This pageant is an opportunity for the contestants to share the culture of their home country while learning about others and to experience the culture of other beauty queens through interacting with them.
Miss Heritage Global was previously held in Zimbabwe and South Africa. When asked why the move to Ghana Phiri said, “Because Ghana is one of the countries on the continent that has managed to keep its culture intact. When you come to Ghana you immediately see that the local culture has been brought into the new century with all the modern cultures that have been brought from the rest of the world, but Ghana’s culture still stands through. You see the pride in the people,” she said. “We wanted a country that would really give the contestants an African experience…and with this year being the ‘Year of Return’ in Ghana, it was a great time to make the move.
The official launch took place at the Ghana Tourism Authority Headquarters on 10thJuly 2019, and the MC for the event was Nana Amperibea Boadu, from the Year of Return Secretariat, which is located at the Accra Tourist Information Centre. Present for the media launch were key partners in supporting the upcoming event in Ghana. Mr. Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority and Coordinator for Year of Return, Mr. Akwasi Ababio, Director of Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President and Chairman for Year of Return, Mr. Kwadwo Antwi, CEO of Ghana Tourist Development Company, and Diallo Sumbry, Founder The Adinkra Group and Member of the Year of Return Steering Committee were all at the high table to lend their voices to the exciting event and what it means for Ghana and Year of Return.
There will be 55 contestants representing different countries from around the world. They arrive in Ghana on 10thof August and the main event takes place on 20thAugust at the Accra International Conference Centre. This gives the ladies a 10-day experience in Ghana and puts pressure on our own Eugenia Abotsi, Miss Heritage Global Ghana 2019, to be the perfect host of her home country. “I’m excited because I get to share the culture of Ghana with the entire world,” she said. “I’m excited because if I’m able to sell Ghana well to the other contestants it means that when they go back to their various countries, they can continue to sell Ghana to others.”
When Agyeman gave his closing remarks he spoke of how having the pageant in Ghana during this year of return was the perfect time. “Our arms are wide open to everybody to return to Ghana,” he said. “Ghana is the centre of the world and so the centre represents the coming together of different people of different races and different tribes as one people. That is what we are about.” He thanked the media and bloggers for being there to share the event with the masses. JoyPrime will be airing the competition on its channel. Nana Yaa Sarpong, Channel Manager was there and pledged the commitment they will make to promote the pageant on their TV station along with some of their partner radio stations with Multimedia.
Miss Heritage Global was founded in 2013 for the purpose of promoting the preservation of our global heritage and to create an environment of culture sharing to inspire tolerance as more communities are becoming diverse around the world. This year’s event is in partnership with Ghana Tourism Authority and The Ministry of Tourism Art & Culture. The main event takes place on 20thAugust and will also feature performances from some of Africa’s biggest entertainers. For more information and the full list of participants visit www.missheritage.organd follow all their social media platforms @missheritageglobal.
The government of Ghana has reduced visa fees on arrival for “The Year of Return, Ghana 2019”. The fee is reduced to $75 from the initial $150. The move is to allow for many people living in the Diaspora to participate in the various activities for the programme.
The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Charles Owiredu, made the revelation while speaking to the Diplomatic Corps on the programme in Accra.
He said, “Our Missions’ abroad are liaising with Ghanaians associations, airlines, etc to work and make it relatively easy and convenient for those travelling to Ghana to participate in the programmes of “The Year of Return, Ghana 2019.”
“The Government of Ghana is also in the process of working to have visa agreements with some countries such as those in the Caribbean where the Diaspora total number is quite significant. This year, for instance, the government of Ghana and Jamaica established a visa-free agreement where nationals of each of the two countries do not need a visa to travel to the countries,” he stressed.
The deputy minister further noted that in line with President Akufo-Addo’s vision of a “Ghana Beyond Aid”, the engagement of the Diaspora remained a major development programme of the government.
“With its democratic credentials, rule of law and the stability of the country, Ghana intended to serve as a pacesetter for welcoming their own back to their roots and to provide for assimilating them into the Ghanaian society in particular and African societies in general,” he said.
The year-long event which commenced at the beginning of this year 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 program also aims at celebrating 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 Ulla F. Muller Elementary School Bamboula Dancers accompanied by drummers danced in the Senate Chamber and brought comments on Facebook about how beautiful the performance was. So did the dance performance by Earth Mamas Pan African Dance Company. The third dance performance was by Empresses Addaliah and Atiyah Potter.
The program was tied together with a sober theme. It commemorated the men, the women and the children who were yanked from their West African homes and sold into slavery so a profit-crazed minority could make larger profits. A PBS video was played, “Why Did Europeans Enslave Africans?”
The video illustrated how slavery was about making a profit for slave owners and how slavery evolved into racism.
Jackson told some of the story of Virgin Islander’s ancestors.
“They fought, they were thrown overboard, they were eaten by sharks, they gave birth, they died,” he said. Most Virgin Islanders have the blood of the survivors “running in our veins,” he said.
The connection between Ghana and the Virgin Islands’ past and present families was emphasized
From Ghana, Alex Quaison-Sackey spoke about the connection. He is related to the first black African to serve as president of the United Nations General Assembly. Virgin Islander Myron Allick, representing the Sackey Family, spoke of that family’s connection to Ghana. He proposed an exchange program between Ghana and the Virgin Islands – 25 Virgin Islanders going to Ghana and 25 students from Ghana coming to the Virgin Islands. He suggested Carlsberg Brewery, which brews Elephant, a popular beer for Virgin Islanders, as a sponsor for the exchange.
Assata Afua, director of Black Power Theater, recounted her visit to Ghana and said when she returned, “I came back to St. Thomas my shoulders back a little further and my head a little higher.”
The first slave ship arrived in Jamestown in 1619. Jackson said that the settlers of Jamestown had stopped in the Virgin Islands on their way to settle Jamestown in 1607. He said. “The Virgin Islands are linked to this story, a world story.”
A Dutch ship named Desire delivered the 20 enslaved Africans to Jamestown. Some historians estimated that more than 7 million slaves were taken from Africa in the following century.
Jahwed David read a poem recalling the words of Maya Angelo “I am the hope and dream of slaves.”
Behind the speakers in the Senate Chambers was a large portrait of Edward Wilmot Blyden, widely known as the father of Pan-Africanism. He was born on Saint Thomas in 1832. He migrated back to Africa where he became a political figure.
Emancipation Day – July 3 – commemorates the day in 1848 when 9,000 enslaved Africans on St. Croix demanded their freedom, forcing Gov. Peter von Scholten to declare, “All unfree in the Danish West Indies are from today emancipated.”
You’ve booked your trip to Accra. Now the countdown begins. As you prepare to travel to Ghana there are a few things you will need to know for your arrival. If this is your first time coming to Ghana or even landing on the continent of Africa, you’re in for quite an experience.
The city of Accra if a vibrant, eclectic mix of people from diverse backgrounds. As the capital city of Ghana, it’s much like many other major metropolitan centres in that people from small towns and communities across the country move there in hopes of greener pastures. The result is the hustle and bustle of a big city that’s crowded and often choked with traffic at peak times of the day.
Because of the diversity in its people, there are various cultural practices people maintain from their communities even though they are in Accra. The city is historically the dwelling place for people of the Ga tribe. Their language, Ga, is spoken by many in Accra, especially in Accra Central and Jamestown. However because of the migration of many people from the Akan tribes (this includes Ashanti, Akuapem, Akwamu, Akyem, Fante) into Greater Accra, the Twi language, has become a dominant one spoken by many people in Greater Accra. In fact, that language has become so commonplace that it’s spoken by some even in regions where it’s not the native language.
Despite the many groups in Greater Accra, because English is the official language of Ghana, nearly everyone speaks it, so as a tourist you will be able to manage. Although you will frequently come across those who speak a local slang often called ‘Pidgeon English’. This is spoken widely in Ghana and you’ll also find it in Nigeria.
Anytime you travel to a new country, there are a few things you need to know. Ghana isn’t much different. So here are some important things to note for your stay in Ghana.
Akwaaba – This means ‘Welcome’ in the Akan language. It’s commonly used across Ghana as a welcome greeting. As a visitor, you will often hear people say this to you when you visit places for the first time.
Thank You – Thank You in the Akan language is ‘Medaase’. This is one of Ghana’s most common words used to show appreciation.
The Use of Left Hand– In Ghanaian Culture, giving and receiving items is done only with the right hand. For example is you are making a purchase, you are expected to hand the money using your right hand to the individual. When using your left, you will hear an apology. “Sorry for left,” is commonly said when someone hands you something with a left hand.
The reason is that culturally it’s believed the left hand is unclean since it’s supposed to be used to clean up after visiting ‘nature’s call’. So using the left is considered disrespectful by many.
Please – The word “please” is used quite often in Ghana. It may come across as over-gratification when you hear it so often, but in Ghana it’s considered respectful to use ‘please’ in many scenarios. It’s often, “Yes, please” or “No, please” when answering questions.
Occasionally it’s used in conversation when addressing someone to show a sign of respect.
These are just a few things you’ll need in preparation for your trip to Accra, Ghana. Pay attention to cultural cues and if you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask. Ghanaians are quite friendly and open to conversation with travellers. Enjoy your stay!
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.
(Forbes) “In the year 2019, we open our arms even wider to welcome home our brothers and sisters in what will become a birthright journey home for the global African family.” With these words, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana proclaimed 2019 “The Year of Return” for diasporan Africans. This year also marks the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of enslaved Africans to North America. The “Year of Return” has gotten off to a very strong start. Naomi Campbell, Idris Elba, Michael Jai White, and Rosario Dawson are just a few of the global celebrities who spent parts of the Christmas and New Year’s holiday in Ghana. They came to take part in a week-long ‘Full Circle Festival‘ hosted by actor Boris Kodjoe and marketing maven Bozoma Saint John.
Viola Labi, a first generation Canadian-Ghanaian shared, “I am so proud that our President is the first to have such an initiative. I am proud that I’m Ghanaian; proud that we are leading the way.” Labi has been visiting Ghana a few times a year for almost a decade. She would visit with friends and family, connect with her heritage and then return back to Canada to her career in luxury retail with brands such as Burberry and Nordstrom. On one of these trips in 2015, she noticed women weaving textiles on the side of the road in the town of Tamale, Ghana. She immediately pulled over the car and spent the next few hours chatting with the women and learning how to weave Batakari, a textile from the northern region in Ghana. She posted some photos to her Instagram feed.
As Labi continued to share the work of Ghanaian artisans on Instagram, messages started to come in from both friends and strangers. They would ask, “Can I buy that?” With her strong fashion sense and entrepreneurial spirit, Labi began carrying products back to Canada and shipping them from her home to customers across North America. By 2017, she launched Woven. “I was already doing it without realizing it. It was an actual business,” recalls Labi. 10-months ago, she flew to Ghana with a ticket to return to Canada 2-weeks later. She canceled the return flight and does not “plan on leaving any time soon.”
Woven is working to help bring excellence into a fragmented fashion industry in Ghana. Labi pulls from her experience in retail to develop the artisan sector, run primarily by women. “Women are the backbone of Africa,” says Labi. Woven offers retail consultancy, workshops for fashion schools, wholesale export, and custom co-creation of products. Labi strives to create high-quality, innovative products in Ghana to fight the perception that African products are “below par”. When she learned that a European fashion tech brand uses re-engineered fibers like orange peels to create luxury textiles, she thought that with their abundance of fresh produce, “Ghana can do the same.”
Women weaving baskets in Ghana. (Photo by Adepa Foriwaa courtesy of Woven) PHOTO CREDIT: ADEPA FORIWAA
Labi is excited by the Year of Return. The name of her company is not just a nod to the woven products that they sell. “Woven means to unite into a cohesive whole,” says Labi. Labi crafted her definition of self by weaving together her different identities, but it was not always easy. Working in high-end retail, she put up with micro-aggressions of “willfully ignorant” customers. Once, while at a bookstore, she asked the saleswoman for a recommendation of a book about a young black girl. She led Labi to a section of books set in the jungle.
The Year of Return is part of the change that Labi is noticing. There is a company in Ghana making black dolls dressed in traditional Kente fabric. “If I was exposed to symbols of self-representation like that when I was growing up, maybe it wouldn’t have taken 35 years to figure myself out. Since my parents were African immigrants, they didn’t grow up as minorities, so they didn’t talk much about my blackness – it was more about my African-ness. Overseas, the two are different,” said Labi. For Africans of the diaspora, the Year of Return is about accelerating this discovery of identity. Labi explained, “We need a way to connect. We are looking for points of validation; for points of our heritage. Home.”
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