Ghana Diaspora Celebration & Homecoming Summit Welcomes Diasporans From Around the World

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Ghana continues to be a leader in Africa when it comes to its relationship with the diaspora community. It’s the first country to have a Diaspora Affairs Office in the Presidency designed to focus on the needs of its people living outside the country.  The biennial Ghana Diaspora Celebration and Homecoming Summit, which runs from 3rd – 6th July 2019, had a successful opening day at the Accra International Conference Centre. Many dignitaries and government officials were there to be part the opening day including, Mustapha Hamid, Minister of Information, Barabara Oteng Gyasi, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Jessica Ayivor, Vice President of the African American Association of Ghana and H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennet, Head of Mission, Diaspora African Forum.  A special Keynote address from President Nana Akufo-Addo was a highlight that served to put a stamp on the importance of this conference.

 

Akufo-Addo said some key things in his address that gave everyone the confidence that he takes this event and the work of the Diaspora Affairs office seriously. “When I’ve visited countries outside our shores, I’ve engaged with members of the Ghanaian community not only to tell them about the progress we made in our country but also to listen to their concerns.” He continued his address saying, “When I was informed the remittances from Ghanaians in the diaspora has increased by nearly 50% from $2.2 Billion USD in 2017, to $3 Billion USD in 2018, it reinforced my decision to continue to engage in this important constituency that continues to support the growth and the progress of our economy.”

Mr. Akwasi Ababio, Director of Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President, has done a great job of engaging with the diaspora.  Known for taking the time out of his busy schedule to meet with people from the diaspora, Mr. Ababio is perhaps one of the most accessible people in government.  During his address on the first day of events, he said, that the summit was working towards enhancing the quality of life for Ghanaians both at home and in the diaspora. “We also recognize the strategic role those in the diaspora play in Ghana’s development,” he said. “The [upcoming] sessions will highlight the past and present actions of the diaspora and the future opportunities working together to build Ghana.”

 

Event registrants came from all corners of the globe including, Kenya, Turkey, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Australia, Belgium, the U.K., United States, and Canada. Each expecting to network and build connections with others who have a strong interest in Ghana.  Adjoa Agyeman, a diasporan from Canada said she decided to come to the event because she has returned to Ghana and faced some obstacles. “I wanted to come and see if anyone else is having the same challenges that I am having and also to see if there are any remedies that are being brought up. So far I haven’t gotten a lot of answers, I’m still waiting.  There are some issues that came up, like getting the Ghana card, and I thought it wasn’t resolved. So I am looking forward to the next few days and hoping all of my questions will be answered.”

 

A man from the U.K, who wished to remain nameless, said he was excited about all the things happening in Ghana so he decided to attend the event in hopes of networking and meeting new people. While Karl-Buah Obed, who travelled from Hong Kong spoke about how impressed he is with the Diaspora Affairs Office.  He said that he was happy at how quick Mr. Ababio and his team are to respond to the needs of people like himself from the diaspora. Obed said it’s important to have someone in an office like that who cares about the needs and concerns of people who are transitioning to Ghana.

 

Over the next few days, the conference will feature other keynote speakers and panel discussions tackling some of the concerns of the diaspora.  “The critical role of those living in the diaspora cannot be overstated,” the president said in wrapping up his Keynote address. He stressed that he will continue to have all diaspora matters centralized in the Diaspora Affairs Office where it currently resides.

 

The conference runs until 6th July so it’s not too late to attend if you’re already in Ghana and looking to participate in the activities. Visit the website at www.myghanadiaspora.com for more details on registration and to download the event program.  For more info on the Diaspora Affairs office visit the website, www.ghanaiandiaspora.com or www.yearofreturn.com.

Written by Ivy Prosper

France24 Report on Year Of Return: Hundreds of African-Americans resettle in Ghana

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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.

 

Related Articles:

HomeToGo – https://visitghana.com/ghana-listed-in-top-10-trending-summer-destinations-for-2019/

Year Of Return: “Come with an open mind and heart” – Mona Boyd invites Diasporans

Year of Return: African Diaspora in Ghana for Back2Africa Festival

CNN: CNN Travel lists Ghana as place to visit in 2019

 

About Year of return, Ghana 2019

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.

Ghana: Come For The Celebrities, Stay To Be A Part Of Something Bigger

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(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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