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.
The four-time champions are hoping to end a 37-year wait for a fifth title at the June 21 to July 19 championship in Egypt where they have been drawn against Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau in Group F.
The president was speaking at a dinner on Thursday as the team prepared to depart for camping in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday.
“Teamwork is at the heart of every success. Without it, you cannot succeed in football, and as it is, in every enterprise,” President Akufo-Addo stated, as published on the Government of Ghana website.
“Teamwork means all of you have to work for each other. Religious, ethnic and other divisions do not advance teamwork.
“You are the Black Stars of Ghana and it doesn’t matter whether you’re from Jamestown or Nalerigu or Walewale, you’re the Black Stars of Ghana.
“Helping each other to win is the sort of teamwork I’m talking about.
“So, your slogan, that is [Ghana’s] slogan of the year – ‘The year of return’. This indeed is the year of return.”
Ghana won the Cup of Nations in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982 after which they finished second in 1992, 2010 and 2015.
“You have to respect unreservedly the authority of the coach and the authority of the captain [Andre Ayew],” Akufo-Addo added.
“That is basic rules, non-negotiable rules; if you don’t do it, everybody will be going their separate ways.
“If you do that, you cement the teamwork and you will become a cohesive forceful force.
“It is my intention to come and watch your first match [against Benin] on the 25th of June and if with God’s grace, which I believe He will give us, you make the final, I would come there as well to come and watch you.”
The ‘Year of Return’ is a national campaign urging all Ghanaians in the diaspora to make a trip to Ghana in 2019 to mark 400 years of the first enslaved African arriving in Jamestown, Virginia in the Americas.
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.”
Reigning World Wrestling Entertainment Champion, Kofi Kingston has in a Facebook and Instagram post said he will be visiting home after 26 years. In a post that suggests he has heard the call to action in the trending #YearofReturn hashtag ‘Brafie’ #brafie and responding by inviting others to the slogan #LetsGoGhana, Kofi is will be returning home for a 4-day visit beginning May 30 to June 2, 2019 to pay a courtesy call on the President, Nana Akufo Addo and the Asantehene, Otumfuor Osei Tutu II at the Manhyia Palace as well as visit many tourist attractions including Lake Bosomtwi, Christiansborg (Osu) Castle, Bonwire, Ejisu and Komfo Anokye. He will be accompanied by a WWE crew who are shooting a documentary on him as World Champion.
Read the story below as published by WWE.com on Friday, May 9, 2019.
Kofi Kingston is going home. And, of course, he’s got a little extra luggage to take with him this time around.
The WWE Champion revealed Friday on Instagram that he is planning his first visit to his home country of Ghana, West Africa since 1993 — part of a celebratory “Year of Return” in the wake of winning his first World Championship. A WWE film crew will be documenting the four-day visit, which includes a children’s rally, visits to Kofi’s maternal and paternal hometowns, as well as a courtesy call on the Ghanaian president, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and a visit to Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asante Monarch.
Read the full press release below, and stay tuned to WWE’s digital channels for more on Kofi’s homecoming.
Journey to becoming World Champion
The New Day’s Kofi Kingston is powered by positivity, and he’s used it to catapult himself, Xavier Woods and Big E to new heights.
Since bursting on the WWE scene in 2007, Kingston has established himself as one of WWE’s premier high-flyers. That, paired with his upbeat attitude, made him a perennial favourite of the WWE Universe as he racked up Intercontinental, the United States and Tag Team Championships. Kingston also cemented his place in WWE history with a series of daredevil moments where he saved himself from elimination in several Royal Rumble Matches.
Above: Video of how Kofi Kingston won the title
When he joined forces with Big E and Xavier Woods to form The New Day, though, no one could have guessed that the trio of unicorn horn-wearing, Booty-O-chomping Superstars would achieve the feats that they have in WWE. In fact, the WWE Universe despised them at first but soon grew to love them.
As a veteran member of the team, Kingston provides his wealth of knowledge to his younger compadres, and it has paid off. Not only has The New Day become one of the most popular factions in WWE history, but ya boys have held multiple Tag Team Championships between their stints on Raw and SmackDown LIVE, including the longest reign in WWE history – an astonishing 483 days.
Kingston’s 11 years of hard work and dedication finally brought him to the dance at WrestleMania 35 where he challenged Daniel Bryan for the WWE Title. With the entire WWE Universe behind him, as well as his New Day brothers and the SmackDown locker room, Kofi beat Bryan to claim WWE’s ultimate prize. It just goes to show what the Power of Positivity can accomplish.
Kofi Kingston’s explains his unique Adinkra Tatoos
After graduating from college, Sarkodie-Mensah decided to pursue a professional wrestling career. He began performing on the New England independent circuit as a Jamaican wrestler by the name of Kofi Nahaje Kingston. After signing a developmental deal with WWE in 2007, he shortened his ring name to “Kofi Kingston”. Kingston debuted in WWE in 2008 using the same Jamaican character as he did on the independent circuit. In late 2009, he stopped being billed from Jamaica and dropped the accent although he kept his ring name. He then started being billed from his home country of Ghana.
He is the first African-born world champion in WWE history as well as its 30th Triple Crown Champion and 20th overall Grand Slam Champion (13th under the current format). In addition, Kingston himself holds the singular record for most days spent as a Tag Team Champion within WWE and is also known for innovative ways of suspending his elimination from Royal Rumble and battle royal matches. With the exception of a few months spent as a heel (villainous character) in 2015 with The New Day, Kingston has been a babyface (heroic character) for almost the entirety of his WWE career.
The “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” is a major landmark marketing campaign targeting the African – American and Diaspora Market to mark 400 years of the first enslaved African arriving in Jamestown Virginia. 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 USA.
The Year of Return seeks to make Ghana the focus for millions of African descendants reacting to their marginalisation by tracing their ancestry and identity. By this, Ghana becomes the beacon for African people living on the continent and the diaspora.
The United States Congress recently passed an Act H.R. 1242 – 400 Years of African-American which is a historically significant milestone. Ghana’s unique position as the location for 75 per cent of the slave dungeons built on the west coast of Africa and the current President’s policy of making it a national priority to extend a hand of welcome back home to Africans in the diaspora cannot be overemphasised.
There are still numerous imposing European forts and castles harbouring harrowing reminders of an intense and complex history of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in our land over centuries. This on its own has made Ghana the focus for millions of African descendants reacting to their marginalization by tracing their ancestry and identity.
However, even more, important is the recognition of Ghana as a beacon of hope for African people living on the continent and in the Diaspora. This status was earned not by coincidence but by conscious efforts to validate the struggles, strengths and linkages between African descendants on a Pan-African scale.
A group of final year business students of the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) who have begun using the power of technology to market and promote Ghanaian dance as a tourism product have emerged champions of this year’s Destination Legon Tourism Marketing Exhibition, simply known as Destination Legon.
Wojo shrugged off competition from 14 other groups in a battle of wits and ideas on how their respective destinations and attractions could be packaged, promoted and sold to prospective buyers and tourists. The group, Wojo, which translates as “let’s dance” in the Ga language, made a presentation which highlights the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and related tools to bring the various Ghanaian dance experiences to consumers as a key tourism component. The group has also created a Gaming App that allows users to among other things, learn ways of improving and keep clean sanitation.
Destination Legon is the practice part of the course, Tourism Marketing that is taught at UGBS with the idea that students are equipped with skills that they can use to market destinations just like as products and services are marketed. Teams of level 400, MBA and MPhil students offering Tourism Marketing at the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship are given the opportunity to choose various destinations to design and prepare alluring messages to market Ghana’s tourist attractions and destinations to potential tourists.
Students then make a presentation of their marketing and promotion plans to a jury of experts drawn from academia and industry who determine the winner. There was also an exhibition of products from the destinations by the student teams.
This year’s, which is the sixth edition, was held on the theme, “Year of Return: Enhancing the digital space for tourism growth” and the students were expected to deploy technological tools to enhance and market their tourism products.
Speaking to www.voyagesafriq.com on this year’s event, a lecturer at UGBS, and Co-Convener of Destination Legon, Dr Kobby Mensah said once again, students had demonstrated a sense of creativity and innovation in creating new tourism products and services. “Obviously the presentations have been amazing, the students have done incredibly well and I think they have diverse ideas from the previous editions”.
While commending the support of the Ghana Tourism Authority for their support over the years, he appealed for more stakeholder support and interest. “We need a formal agreement where we can actually say that right after the group presentations, the best ideas are actually synthesized and used in the tourism space and GTA are all stakeholders involved. So I’m still calling on stakeholders to come up and support this idea and tap into the talents of these young ones and I’m sure we can improve the tourism of this country,” Dr. Mensah said.
Jury for Destination Legon 2019 comprised, Agbeko Lotsu, a Marketing Consultant, Abeiku Santana, ace Broadcaster and CEO, Kaya Tours, Okyeame Kwame, Musician and Tourism Ambassador, Rosaline Kyere-Nartey, Hospitality Specialist, and Ian Wardi, Tourism Ambassador.
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.
Activities celebrating the Full Circle Festival is drawing to a close as the Country ushers in the Year of Return, Ghana 2019. Officials of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture , Ghana Tourism Authority and office of Diaspora Affairs joined the Chiefs and people of Akwamu to celebrate several Hollywood stars of African descent at a colourful ceremony.
Drawing parallels between the resilience and fighting spirit of the Akwamu people, the Paramount Chief, Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III, congratulated the star studded entourage for their exploits in the USA which has now made them global icons. Actor Michael Jai White and Marketing icon, Bozoma Saint John were both enstooled as warriors. Hollywood Actor, Boris Kodjoe, who coordinated the trip also came up for special recognition for his untiring efforts in promoting Ghana to the rest of the World.
The Year of Return is a special spiritual and birthright journey being cordinated by the Ghana Tourism Authority to commemorate 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America. The initiative has pushed Ghana into 4th place in the list of 19 must visit places in 2019 put together by CNN.
Source: Tanni Deb, CNN and Segun Akande, for CNN (CNN Africa)
Across Africa, from the north of the Sahara to the West African coast sit many relics of the continent’s early interactions with Europe.
In Ghana, two of the country’s most famous spectacles, Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle are truly imposing.
But their ancient walls were once home to one of the most tragic and brutal periods in the history of humanity — the transatlantic slave trade.
The bigger of the two, Elmina Castle, is a white-washed fortress on the coast of the small town of Elmina in what is now modern-day Ghana. First built in 1482 as a Portuguese trading settlement, the 91,000 sq foot behemoth was one of the principal slave depots in the transatlantic slave trade for more than three centuries.
This slave castle’s inner walls are a haunting reminder of its gruesome past08:59
Some of them, like Ivor Bartels, are looking to reconnect with their lost family’s heritage and unwittingly, a lot more. “My mother is Belizean, and I was born in the UK. I’m Afro-Caribbean, British-Caribbean. My name took me to Ghana because I knew there was Bartels here,” he say in the halls of the old castle. “I thought this was an ideal place for me to start my journey; to search for my roots, for my past, and to find out really what happened here within these walls.”
‘A dark history’
Alex Afful, a tour guide at the castle, says there are two schools of thought on the inspiration behind the castle’s name.
“One believed that the word ‘Elmina’ is an Arabic name, which means ‘harbor.’ One also has it that it’s a Portuguese word meaning, ‘the mine,’ Afful says.
When the Portuguese first arrived, their main commodity was gold, Afful explains. “At the rate they were getting it, this made the Portuguese to think or believe that a gold mine is found here,” he says.
However, when European powers began to invade Africa for slaves, Elmina became an essential stop on the slave route and a prison of sorts for captives.
Today, Afful retraces the brutal journey that most captives faced before being sold into slavery. It often began by determining which prisoners were healthy enough for the long, arduous course ahead. “Normally they want the healthy captives, so first they have to count. They have an instrument that they use to open their teeth, to count the number of teeth that they had,” Afful explains. “In some cases, they have to be whipped for them to jump, for them to see how strong that they are. So, that’s the first phase. Now, when they get in here, day after that has been done, they were then put in the various dungeons.”
Cape Coast Castle – From gold trade to slave trade07:05
After being tested, the captives were confined to Elmina’s dungeons where conditions were shocking, even by the standards of the time. “…There were no toilets. There were no bathrooms. In some cases, they had straws on the floor, which they used as a mattress and so on,” Afful describes. “In all these dungeons, they were given buckets, which they were expected to ease themselves.” “But because of the conditions they were in, the chains they had on their feet made it almost impossible for them to get to this bucket,” he tells CNN.
Captives could spend as long as three months in confinement, awaiting their journey into a dark, and unknown future.
As Afful explains, negotiations were concluded before slave ships would carry their human cargo. But in a market where the seller had little control over how each slave could be distinguished, the buyers often felt the need to label their new property, in the most inhumane of ways. “Now, with the branding, each merchant has its own method of doing it. Some will use alphabet; some will use numbers on the form of a metallic stamp,” Afful describes. “They put it in the fire, already they have some oil on their body (to) prepare them for the journey. So they burn them on the skin,” Branded and subjugated, the captives were led aboard awaiting ships through the Door of No Return. “… when the ship came, they took them in batches through the ‘Door of No Return,’ and they get to the ship, for the journey to proceed from there,” he says.
The ‘Door of No Return’ still swings, centuries after, a menacing reminder of the captives’ descent into a life of terror and relentless servitude.
“Initially, this door was bigger. But when the slave trade began, it was reduced this way. So that one person can come in at a time,” Afful says.The Door, the dungeons where captives were restrained and the walls through which these slaves walked all serve as cues of a story that Africa seems to have confined to the past.
It is an approach that Edmund Abaka, Associate Producer of History and International Studies at the University of Miami, believes we must rethink.
“We have to move away from the perception that, ‘oh, history is about the past, history is about people who are dead and gone,'” Abaka says. “It is our story. If we don’t tell our story, somebody will tell their story,” he adds. For Bartels, the accounts of Elmina’s past revive a traumatizing story, yet the necessity of hearing these tales is not lost on him. “I can hear the wailing of my ancestors here. The souls that have been lost. … But it’s good to be home,” he says. Today, the town of Elmina is a lively, bustling hub — but the castle towers above it, an essential, yet painful reminder of its past.