We Are Not Descendants Of Slaves But Descendants Of Survivors – Boris Kodjoe
Celebrated Holywood African- American actor, Boris Kodjoe has voiced his opinion on the media’s depiction of Africa as a war-ridden continent. For him, the opportunity to showcase the other side of Africa to the world was not only to commemorate the 400thyear of the arrival of the first documented enslaved Africans in Virginia but to also help make that switch from the mentality of “Descendants of Slaves” to “Descendants of Survivors”.
According to him, they (Boris, his wife, his brother, Bozoma Saint John and his crew) wanted to show people the true side of Africa because the media’s narrative of Africa as a famine and war zone is quite disappointing and perpetuation of falsehood. He stated that Africa is not a country, as some people perceive. On the contrary, he stressed the fact that seven (7) out of the 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa with a rich diversity in food, culture, music, people etc.
Speaking on the American talk show, THE REAL, the actor of Ghanaian descent asserted, “traditional media has painted a picture of Africa as a place of war and famine to Europe and it’s not true”. And we wanted to show people the True side of Africa”. He recounted all the fun they had with the huge crowds at the Afrochella festival and Afronation, which were two of the major events that took place in December in Ghana.
He made these remarks with regard while sharing his experience at the Essence Full Circle festival held in Ghana. He also spoke about visiting amazing Heritage sites in Ghana such as the Cape Coast Castle and many other heritage sites. He added that Africa was not just great for tourism but also great for business.
The Essence Full Circle festival was held in Ghana under the ‘Year of Return’ initiative, which was themed “Celebrating the African Resilience”. Thousands of people of African origin especially African Americans including several Hollywood celebrities visited Ghana for Christmas. Some of the stars include Idris Elba, Naomi Campbell, Akon, Rick Ross, T.I., Ludacris, Steve Harvey and several others from the diaspora who were all welcomed home to Ghana and will hopefully become one of the legacies which celebrate African resilience.
Also visiting Ghana in 2019 to partake in the celebration were the Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Congressional Black Caucus, Kofi Kingston and also the Prime Minister of Barbados.
‘Beyond the Return’: Afro-Nation Festival to stay in Ghana for 5 years
The Ghana Tourism Authority, on behalf of the Government of Ghana, and Event Horizon, Organisers of the Afro-Nation Festival, on Monday, 20th January 2020, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Ghana to play host to “the biggest urban music beach festival in the world” for the next five years.
The MoU, which was signed by Mr. Akwasi, CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), and Obi Asika, CEO of Event Horizon, was witnessed by the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in London, on the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit.
The signing of the MoU is part of a number of plans Ghana is putting in place, as it kick-starts the “Beyond the Return” project.
‘Beyond the Return’ aims to engage Africans in the Diaspora and all persons of African descent more positively in areas such as trade and investment co-operation, and skills and knowledge development.
The MoU will also allow the Ghana Tourism Authority and any governmental ministry, agency or authority it deems necessary to on behalf of the Government of Ghana, oversee all designs, content and production of Merchandise for the Afro-Nation Ghana Project.
The parties have also agreed, in preparation for the event every year, to establish a Local Organising Committee, comprising of representatives of each of the parties or their affiliates for the Afro-Nation Ghana Project with the LOC, amongst other duties, to be stated in the binding document responsible for securing additional sponsorship for the project.
In his remarks, after the signing of the MoU, Obi Asika stated that “Ghana is a welcoming destination, and we were happy with the warm reception we received since we took Afro-Nation to the country. The President’s commitment to the project is unparalleled, and we look forward to another successful event in December 2020“.
On his part, the CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Akwasi Agyeman said “Afro-Nation is amongst one of the key events on which we are anchoring the ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative. We want to make Ghana the number one entertainment destination in Africa. December in Ghana will never be the same again”.
About Beyond The Return
Beyond the Return” is a follow-up to the successful Year of Return, Ghana 2019’ campaign which commemorated the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded enslaved Africans in Jamestown Virginia in 1619. The landmark campaign also celebrated the resilience of the African over the past 400 years and welcomed all people of African origin to return to Africa especially Ghana.
Akufo-Addo deserves to be praised for “Year of Return” initiative – Ablakwa
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament for North Tongu, has commended President Akufo-Addo for implementing the ‘Year of Return” initiative, ABC News can report.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, December 3, Mr. Ablakwa said Ghana has attracted considerable interest and high-level visits from Africans in the diaspora since the President made the declaration.
”Mr. Speaker, it is most appropriate to commend our President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for declaring in September, 2018 that this year – 2019, shall be observed as the: “Year of Return, Ghana 2019.” It is trite knowledge that 2019 marks 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on the shores of Jamestown, Virginia in the United States of America” the North Tongue MP told the House.
”Since this proclamation, it is fair to note that Ghana has attracted considerable interest and high-level visits from Africans in the diaspora, perhaps taken such Pan-African pilgrimages to the next level since President Jerry John Rawlings institutionalized the PANAFEST celebrations in 1992,” Okudzeto Ablakwa extolled.
Mr. Ablakwa was also full of commendation for President Akufo-Addo for conferring Ghanaian citizenship on 126 Africans in the diaspora. He noted that the country has done very little to take advantage of the provisions of the constitution that permits diasporans to be given such honour.
”Mr. Speaker, kindly permit me to also highlight the conferment of citizenship on 126 Africans in the diaspora by the President last week. The House will recall that last year I made a statement urging the State to make greater use of this provision in our laws,”
”Since the days of the exceptional intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois and that great poet Maya Angelou were granted citizenship, it remains my humble view that we have not made impressive effort to leverage this opportunity even though I acknowledge that in 2016 President John Dramani Mahama granted citizenship to 30 Africans in the diaspora,” he said.
In September 2018 in Washington, D.C, President Akufo-Addo declared and formally launched the ‘Year of Return Ghana 2019’ for Africans in the diaspora, giving fresh impetus to the quest to unite Africans on the continent with their brothers and sisters in the diaspora.
A number of African Americans, including Steve Harvey, Boris Kodjoe, Michael Jai White, Anthony Anderson, Idris Elba, Jidenna, Samuel L Jackson and Deborah Cox have already visited Ghana as part of the initiative.
Year Of Return: President Akufo-Addo Confers Ghanaian Citizenship On 126 Diasporans
The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Wednesday, 27th November 2019, conferred Ghanaian citizenship on 126 Diasporans, who have lived in Ghana for many years.
Speaking after the conferment ceremony, President Akufo-Addo stated that “I am glad you have decided to make Ghana your home, and thereby, join several generations of Diasporans, who committed their lives to us.”
He noted that several persons, including the likes of George Padmore, Bob Marley’s widow, Rita, Maya Angelou, and W.E.B du Bois all found homes in Ghana, with the latter buried in the country.
With the ceremony being part of the series of activities commemorating the ‘Year of Return’, the President stated that Ghana recognizes her 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.
“That is why we had a responsibility to extend a hand of welcome back home to Africans in the diaspora. Many have responded to this call, and the ‘Year of Return’ has so far proven to be a joyful and learning experience all round for all of us,” he said.
To the 126 Diasporans, the President urged them to respect and abide by the laws of Ghana and live in accordance with the tenets of Ghana’s Constitution.
“You have the responsibility of preserving and promoting the image of a country whose reputation, amongst the comity of nations, is, today, high. You are citizens of a country that is regarded as one of the most stable on the continent, a beacon of democracy, governed by the rule of law and respect for individual liberties, human rights and the principles of democratic accountability, as a result of the commendable acts and deeds of past and present generations of your fellow Ghanaians,” he said.
The President continued, “In all your actions, I urge you to guard jealously our country’s image. It is a charge, I am confident, you will uphold. In doing so, I suggest that to facilitate the process of re-integration, you learn at least one Ghanaian language of your choice – Akan, Ewe, Ga, Dagbani, Hausa, or Nzema, amongst others.”
President Akufo-Addo urged them also to be engaged fully in the realization of the vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid.
“Simply put, I just want us to be self-confident, and accept that we shall never reach the level of development we aspire to by relying on aid or external assistance, no matter how generous. It is a mindset that I wish us to discard, a mindset of dependency and living on handouts,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo, in concluding, paid tribute to the late Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, Jake to others, who, as Minister for Tourism and Diasporan Relations under the Government of the 2nd President of the 4th Republic, the outstanding Ghanaian statesman, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, championed the cause for the return of descendants of the slave trade to their homes of origin.
“He instituted the “Joseph Project”, whose aim was to reconcile and unite the African peoples, on the continent and in the Diaspora, and to release their energies to help build Africa and the Caribbean. This ceremony would be a happy moment for him,” he added.
Year Of Return: Ghana’s Ambassador To The US Visits Speaker Pelosi Ahead of Historical Trip
Ahead of the historic trip to Ghana, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, met with Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Dr. Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, at her office in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, July 25, 2019.
The speaker extended an invitation to Ghana’s Ambassador to review key matters regarding the upcoming trip.
In his remarks, Ambassador Adjei-Barwuah touched on Ghana’s existing relationship with the United States, and the need to enhance the friendship between the two countries. “Ghana is very excited about this trip, and for us, it’s a call to open a new page to ensure a better relationship.”
On her part, Speaker Pelosi expressed her deepest gratitude to the President and the people of Ghana for commemorating 400 years of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Jamestown, Virginia. “We go on many trips, but nothing compares to this one. We feel a special connection because of our history. The historical nature of commemorating 400 years of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans makes this trip special. Truly, this trip strikes to the heart” the Speaker said.
The visit will include a tour of some of Ghana’s historic slave-trading ports including Elmina and Cape Coast Dungeons, the Slave Heritage site at Assin Manso which houses the remains of slave ancestors brought down from the United States including a former U.S. Naval officer, Samuel Carson among others. A forty-member delegation will accompany the Speaker on this trip including members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The Ambassador was accompanied by Joseph Ngminebayihi, Head of Consular Department, Kofi Tonto, Head of Information & Public Affairs and Bernard Acquah, First Secretary/Political Affairs.
Source: Embassy of Ghana, USA
Year of Return: Miss Heritage Global Pageant launched as part of preparation to host the World
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.
Written by Ivy Prosper
Ghana reduces visa fees on arrival for ‘The Year of Return’
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.
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Year of Return: Virgin-islands Senators Open the Floor to Culture
Bills the Senate had passed recognizing the importance of the culture and heritage of the Virgin Islands were read, but it was song, dance and poetry that brought Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall on St. Thomas alive during the morning celebration that ran into the afternoon. Viewers of the performances on its live broadcast on Facebook said the performances brought tears to their eyes.
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.”
Source: St. John Virgin Islands
What You Need to Know Before Arriving in Accra for ‘Year of Return’
Written by Ivy Prosper
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!
“Visit Ghana In This ‘Year Of Return’” – President Akufo-Addo To Trinidadians
The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has extended an invitation to the people of Trinidad and Tobago to visit Ghana in this ‘Year of Return.’
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.