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 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 marginalization 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 over emphasized.
There are still numerous imposing European forts and castles harboring harrowing reminders of 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.
The event has been launched at colorful events both in Ghana and the USA.
Washington universal launch
With the Washington universal launch, Ghana is thus empowered to proceed with its intention to undertake activities throughout the year, 2019, to commemorate the event. Speaking at the launch, President Akufo-Addo recalled Ghana’s early Pan African leadership role and pledged that “under my leadership, Ghana 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 the English colonies in North America is, therefore, a huge opportunity to entrench Ghana’s leadership.”
“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,” he said.
The President eulogized the role played by the late Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, who, as Tourism Minister in the Kufuor administration, launched the ‘Joseph Project’, symbolizing an arm of brotherhood inviting back home, descendants of Africans who were enslaved and, therefore, find themselves in North, Central and South America.
Mentioning the late minister’s wish to see the ‘Right of Abode’ immigration programme become law and his (Jake’s) determination to grant easy visas to Africans in the diaspora, the President declared: “I pledge the determination of my government to grant these wishes.”
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture
The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs Catherine Abelema Afeku, assured all Africans in the Diaspora that her ministry was working tirelessly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure their smooth passage back to continental Africa.
“Back home in Ghana, as you go through the slave dungeons, you will know that you are the Josephs and Josephines who were sold into slavery and have come back home,” she declared.
The Chief Executive of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Mr Akwasi Agyemang, situated the ‘Right of Return’ within the context of the Christian Bible in which the people of biblical Israel were promised a return to their rightful land after 400 years in exile.
Other speakers were Ghana’s Ambassador to the US, Dr Adjei Bawuah; Rabbi Kohein, the Executive Director of the Panafest Foundation; Mr. Diallo Sumbry, the Director of the Adinkra Group, the brains behind the Right of Return programme; Sheila Jackson Lee, an African American Congresswoman, and Gina Paige, Co-founder and President of AfricanAncestry.com.
Among those present were Mr Akwasi Awua Ababio, the Chair of the Right of Return Planning Committee; Mr. Reginald Laryea of Media Majique and Research Systems, who doubles as vice- chair of the planning committee, and Dr James Miles, the President of the Diaspora African Forum.
Source: Visit Ghana