GHANA KICKSTARTS YEAR OF RETURN WITH DURBAR AT AKWAMUFIE

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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.

 

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Inside Ghana’s Elmina Castle is a haunting reminder of its grim past

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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.
Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year.
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This slave castle’s inner walls are a haunting reminder of its gruesome past 08:59
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.
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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.”
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Cape Coast Castle – From gold trade to slave trade 07:05
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.
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CNN Travel lists Ghana as place to visit in 2019

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In article by Barry Neild, published some few hour ago, CNN Travel recommended Ghana as one of 19 destinations for 2019 travellers. This comes at the back of a publication by Travel Lemming listing Ghana as one of the top 5 destinations to visit in Africa in 2019.

Singling out efforts marketing Ghana as a destination of choice for diasporans with the #yearofreturn
#Ghana2019 which has outlined programs commemorating 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America as key reason. The writer highlights Ghana’s unique selling proposition with his.., “For all the sobriety of this anniversary, what also awaits visitors to Ghana is the warm, intoxicating embrace of country completely at ease with its identity rushing headlong towards a bright future”.

The key attraction for the visitor is the one place where walls built over centuries ago seem to speak to everyone including the Obama’s and Melania Trump and the several thousands who have visited the Cape Coast Castle.

Come and #SeeGhana #EatGhana #WearGhana and #FeelGhana #discoverghana #exploreghana

Read Full Article below

 

West Africa’s poster nation for economic success and political stability is hoping to trade up its tourism status for 2019, with a campaign targeting the African diaspora whose ancestors were victims of the brutal slave trade of centuries gone by.
The country’s Year of Return marks 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America. It’s a somber recognition of the evil that befell Ghana’s past inhabitants and their descendants — and the strength with which they’ve faced it.
Legacies of the slave trade are unavoidable. Cape Coast Castle, one of many historic coastal forts, was where slaves were held before being dispatched to America and the Caribbean. This brutal and fascinating reminder was visited by the Obamas in 2009 and Melania Trump in 2018.
For all the sobriety of this anniversary, what also awaits visitors to Ghana is the warm, intoxicating embrace of country completely at ease with its identity rushing headlong towards a bright future.
The capital, Accra, crackles with the dynamism of a city on the upswing, with a nightlife scene to match. For those wanting to escape its relentless excitement, Ghana’s 335-mile coastline boasts empty surfing spots like Cape Three Points, while its many protected wildlife zones, including Mole National Park, are home to wild elephants, Nolan warthogs and spotted hyenas.
Don’t miss: Tongo, a village in the Tengzug Hills of northeastern Ghana, is home to the Whistling Rocks — dramatic arrangements of giant granite slabs that produce strange sounds when winds blow down from the Sahara.
Barry Neild – Source: CNN Travel

 

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2018 Culture Afrochella ‘wows’ patrons

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What seemed to be the last major event on the tourism calendar for 2018 did not disappoint patrons. The 2018 Culture Afrochella dubbed #afrochella18 came off at the El-wak Sports Stadium on Saturday December 29, 2018 bringing traffic to a stand-still.

   

The beautifully and artistically designed entrance was just a foretaste of what was in-stock for patrons. From afrocentric dressing to woodcraft, acrobatic display to foot’pool’, eye-opening paintings to giant candies, the photo opportunities were endless but requiring phones with extra memory space for selfies.

 

       

The music was just ‘afrocentrically’ riveting as the food caused taste buds to produce excess saliva.  Crowning it all was the evening musical performances that left no room for parking for patrons who arrived late. Patrons are already looking forward to the 2019 edition and organizers have promised nothing but a more exciting event.

For more… 

         

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