Given its history and commitment to the unification of African peoples throughout the world, it’s not surprising that the government of Ghana is sponsoring an unprecedented “Year of Return” in 2019, during which people of African descent in North America are invited to visit Ghana.
Described as an event to celebrate the resilience of African people and to mark the 400th anniversary of the first Africans being forcibly transported to what is now the United States of America, it was officially launched in August 2018 in Ghana and announced in September at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Year-round events, activities and special happenings abound in Ghana. There is Elmina, the fortress where many thousands of African men, women and children were held in brutal captivity before being forced to walk through “The Door of No Return” to be taken by ship to North America, South America and the Caribbean.
Walking through the fortress is a searing emotional experience that can evoke deep feelings of sorrow and intense anger in visitors from the African diaspora.
Also available will be a Pan African Historical Theatre Festival, hosted by the Panfest Foundation. Its executive director, Rabbi Khoaim, says the festival “is designed to meet the heartfelt needs of Africans in the diaspora to reestablish a link with the continent.” This will be achieved, he said, through “an array of artistic and cultural expression as well as searching dialogue.”
Other learning activities in Ghana include visiting to the Wall of African Ancestors — a more than city-block-long wall featuring paintings of prominent black warriors and leaders from around the world who fought slavery, imperialism, colonialism and white supremacy.
Included are portraits of Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer and Bob Marley.
A “Year of Return” proclamation issued by Ghana addresses the nation’s inclusive Immigration Act, which “grants that a person with the right to Abode shall be free to live and to come and go into and from the country without let or hindrance.”
The country also offers dual citizenship for people of Ghanaian ancestry who are from other nations.
“I believe a healthy consciousness of history is important for the survival of people of African descent and the management of our resources in today’s globalized world,” read a statement from Ghana’s President H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
“Ghana, under my leadership, will continue to ensure that our hard won Pan African reputation is not lost. Making Ghana the focus of activities to commemorate the landing of the first enslaved Africans in North America is therefore a huge opportunity to entrench Ghana’s leadership.”
Ghana’s long history of Pan Africanism – the international effort to connect people of African descent – began with the nation’s liberation from European colonialism. The Republic of Ghana’s first president was the legendary Kwame Nkrumah, a strongly committed Pan Africanist who was an alumnus of the historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
Nkrumah is credited with being the first African leader to promote Pan Africanism. He was also the organizer of the first All-African People’s Conference (AAPC) ― held in Ghana in 1958 ― and a pivotal player in setting up the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.
And the Pan Africanism commitment continues today. A celebration of the 60th anniversary of AAPC was recently hosted at the University of Ghana by the Kwame Nkrumah Pan African Centre ― headed by his daughter, Samia ― and the Pan African Federalist Movement (PAFM), a global movement of Pan Africanists whose mandate is to mobilize the African masses at the grassroots level for the economic and political liberation of Africa.
“2019 is a landmark year marking the 400th-year anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the United States,” said Catherine Afeku, Ghana’s minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, looking at the unifying “Year of Return” and confirming the commitment of President Akufo-Addo and the West African nation. “Ghana becomes the first African country to dedicate the entire calendar year for this anniversary as we reach out to our brothers and sisters to make the journey home as a birthright,” Afeku said.
Monthly events during the Year of Return can be found on the event website: www.visitghana.com/events/year-of-return-ghana-2019.
Source: A. PETER BAILEY