The Year of Return

Celebrating 400 years of African Resilience

 

Perhaps I’m ignorant. Perhaps I have been for some time now. Many of my perceptions, or misperceptions rather, were overdue to be rightfully shattered. It’s a shame—as one with many friends from Cameroon, Nigeria, and other countries throughout the continent of Africa—that I have remained so unaware. These friends raved about their homelands, and somehow their praise fell upon deaf ears, in part due to that as a child, Africa, to me, seemed branded as less than alluring. The media and my societal narrative has often viewed Africa with a lens of violence, poverty, and underdevelopment. This portrayal has caused generations of Africans to abandon their own heritage and traditions. During my trip to Ghana, I can’t say I’ve ever felt more comfortable in a space. I don’t think I stopped my Shaku from the time I got off the plane. Every stereotype that’s been perpetuated never pointed to me feeling this free. I was also fortunate enough to visit the slave dungeons in Cape Coast—small quarters where over a hundred of my potential ancestors were held captive on any given day with no nourishment, suffering in their own feces and urine. As heartbreaking as it was to stand on those grounds, my takeaway—apart from feeling both inspired and devastated—was a galvanized sense of pride. I felt as if I gained a more authentic and emboldened sense of self, furthering my own understanding of endurance through my ancestors’ plight. Thank you … 

…for the introduction to my truth. My year couldn’t have began with more clarity.

Rapper Diggy Simmons

 

Centuries ago, Africans were forcefully taken to serve as slaves in North America, the Caribbean, South America, and Europe.

Precisely on August 2019, it would be exactly 400 years since Africans arrived in the United States. The interesting thing is, despite being taken into slavery, torture, and deprivation, they displayed immense resilience and refused to cower in fear. 

As a way of celebrating the resilience of all the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, the year of return has been established as a celebration in Ghana.

Quite simply, the year of return (Golden return) initiative, is a major spiritual and birth-right journey that invites Africans around the world to mark 400 years since the enslavement of Africans in continents like North America, South America, Europe, and the Caribbeans.

It celebrates the resilience exhibited by Africans, who despite being victims of the slave trade, and being humiliated, and deprived, refused to forget their values and beliefs.

This 2019 celebration started in February and it would continue till December. It would be the start of a  journey home for the African family around the world. And serves to remind the world about the resilience of the people of Africa. During this golden return celebration,Ghana is set to welcome Africans and African Americans across the globe.

If you’re a stranger to the history of Ghana and slavery within Africa, then you’re probably wondering about what the 400 years of African resilience, also known as the year of return is about.  

To start off, Ghana, which first got its independence from colonialism, has a history of seeking to have a connection with Africans overseas.

Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, had a pan-Africanism vision, which evolved around having alliances with diaspora communities.

Due to his vision, he enjoyed friendly relations with African American icons like W.E.B Du Bois who was buried in Accra, Malcolm X and Mohammed Ali who traveled to Ghana to meet him, and Maya Angelou who stayed a little while in Ghana after it had gotten its independence.

As a way of continuing on Kwame Nkrumah and other Ghanaian leaders vision,  the year of return initiative was launched. 

Beyond the celebrations, the year of return is also aimed at welcoming to Ghana, African brothers, and sisters in the diaspora. So, there can be cooperation as they find a way to rebuild what was stolen over the past four centuries.

 

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Celebrity and Star Power Influence

Quite recently, Ilhan Omar, speaker of the US House, Nancy Pelosi, and thirteen other members of the house were in Ghana to observe the four-century anniversary of African slaves in USA.

They visited sites like Elmina slave castles and the Cape coast where hundreds of thousands of Africans were bundled into ships and forced into slavery.

Also, Box office celebrities have also been found to support this vision. Diggy Simmons, Boris Kodjoe, Jidenna and several others visited Ghana for the Full Circle Festival last year but left with something more. Here are some of the beautiful moment from their trip. 

Other celebrities including Austrian born Actor of German and Ghanaian descent Boris Kodjoe and his wife Nicole Ari Parker-Kodjoe also shared some beautiful moments. 

Michael Jai White and his wife, Gillian Iliana White. Michael was crowned a King of Akwamu with the title – Nana Akoto III Odopon “The Tree with strong roots that does not fear the storm”

Singer, Jidenna serenading the crowd at “Ghana Rocks”

 

 

Year of Return Events Calendar 2019

Date ’19Festivals & EventsLocations
9 Feb5th Edition, ACAWF 2019Aburi Botanical Garden
8-28 FebBlack History MonthW. E B Dubois Centre
25 Feb-8 MarBack2Africa FestivalKumasi, Elmina & Cape Coast
6 MarIndependence DayBlack Star Square
9-10 MarJaGha FestivalDay 1: Black Star Square

Day 2: Elmina

19 AprHeritage ParaglidingKwahu, Eastern
15 JunWax Print Film DocumentaryAccra
29 Jun-1 JulBlack Prophet HomecomingBlack Star Square
1-7 JulPan-Hellenic Council WeekAccra & Cape Coast
3-6 JulGhana Diaspora CelebrationAccra Int’l Conference Centre
24 Jul – 2 AugPANAFEST 2019Cape Coast & Elmina
1 AugEmancipation DayAssin Manso Slave River
2 AugHealing ConcertAccra
2 -3 AugNatural Hair ExpoAccra
5 AugInvestment ForumAccra
17 AugMarcus Garvey Award Ball & BanguetAccra
18-28 AugJamestown to Jamestown African American SummitJamestown
19-25 AugChale Wote 2019Jamestown
7 SeptVoyajah FestivalAccra
21 SeptRed, Black & Green by H.E.R CollectiveAccra
1 OctMadiba Humanitarian Award – The Legacy of Nelson MandelaAccra
25-26 OctThe Blueprint ConferenceAccra
14 DecThe Creative Art ShowAccra
21-22 DecAfroChic ’19Accra
28 DecAfrochella ’19Accra

 

Check Out Details of activities outlined for the event:

African Culture And Wellness Festival (ACAWF) 5th Edition

This program consists of a Health Walk, ACAWF Exhibitions, ACAWF workshops and the ACAWF’s Regeneration Concert to wrap up the day. The Regeneration Concert to climax the program will see Ambassador Mutabaruka, a poet, singer, writer, and actor from Jamaica perform.

For more information: visit www.acawf.com

Black History Month

The African American Association of Ghana (AAAG) celebrates Black History Month in February of each year. It is held to highlight and educate the Ghanaian community at large on the experiences, achievements and successes of African Americans throughout history.

The Theme for this year is “ Black Migration – Exploring our Roots and Beyond”

For more information: Visithttp://aaaghana.org

Back2Africa Festival by Adinkra Group

Back2Africa Festival celebrates Black History Month in the last week of February through to Ghana’s Independence Day in the first week of March with a focus on the arts, education and service industry.

The highlight of this experience is the opportunity for all attendees to take their DNA test. Using the world’s largest database of African DNA lineages they will be able to determine their country and ethnic group of origin.

Ghana’s Independence Day

Independence Day is an official state holiday celebrated by the Ghanaian people and the Ghanaian diaspora, which is celebrated on March 6. Independence Day marks the declaration of independence by then Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah on 6 March 1957.

The Independence Day Parade is held at the Black Star square each year. 

JaGha Festival – Jamaica-Ghana Homecoming Festival

JaGha Festival is a new festival which aims to embrace and unify the people of Ghana and Jamaica through culture and music. The vision is to bring the African Diaspora back home to the Motherland.

For more information: Visit http://www.jaghafest.com/

Heritage Paragliding Festival

The Paragliding event was introduced in 2005 by the Ministry of Tourism as part of the yearly Easter festivities. The inclusion of the event as part of the festivities has seen dramatic increase in numbers of visits to the various attractions within the eastern part of the country.

Pilots with a wealth of experience are selected and coordinated across several parts of the world, in order to cater for the diverse and dynamic nature of participants who come from across the world to fly and have fun.

For more information: Visit http://www.ghana.travel/

Wax Print Film Documentary Festival

Fashion is an important part of our identity as Africans and this festival is held to highlight just that.

The Wax Print Film is a documentary style film that explores the origins and cultural implication of wax print fabric by investigating its past, present and future in Ghana and Nigeria. As wax print becomes increasingly popular across the diaspora, people are starting to take critical look at whether “African prints” are truly African.

For more information: Visit waxprintfilm.com

Black Prophet Homecoming Celebration

This will be a time of togetherness, joy and happiness. Celebrating the return of Ghana’s own son, Zonto popularly known as “Black Prophet” back to Ghana. Zonto is a very talented artist who has championed the cause of Africa and Ghana, through his music, across Europe and around the world.

Zonto will be returning home for his long awaited performance in Ghana.  He will be releasing his new album, “Back to My Roots”.  He will also be bringing with him, his musical brethren from Jamaica to celebrate Ghana Year of Return 2019.The celebration will also include other well-known Reggie Artists both from Ghana and Jamaica.

For more information: Visit www.jahmikalentertainment.com 

National Pan-Hellenic Council Republic Week Reunion

The National Pan-Hellenic Council is a collaborative organization of nine historical African American, international Greek lettered fraternities and sororities.

Tau Chi Chapter, an unincorporated association of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. will organize a series of events to take place in Accra, Ghana to be called The National Pan-Hellenic Council Republic Week Reunion.

For more information: Visit www.ghanaques.com

PANAFEST (Pan-African Festival) ’19

The Pan African Historical Theatre Festival commonly known as PANAFEST was introduced by the late Efua Sutherland in the mid-1980s. It was established as a cultural vehicle for bringing Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora together around the issues raised by slavery which remain suppressed.

Marking the Year Of Return, Ghana 2019 activities, the theme for this year’s festival is “Beyond 400 years: Reaching Across Continents Into the Future”

For more information: Visit https://www.panafestghana.org/

Emancipation Day

Ghana started celebrating Emancipation Day in 1998 in solidarity with her brethren in the diaspora (African Descendants abroad). The event is also celebrated to encourage descendants of the soil to come back home and help rebuild Ghana

This day is set aside for the celebration of the “emancipation” of slaves in the Americas and the Caribbean. And that day in the lives of the freed slaves falls on the first day of August as per the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States of America.

For more information: Visit http://www.ghana.travel/

Healing Concert

The concert will feature gospel artists from Africa and the diaspora. The current headliner is Bebe Winans, the widely acclaimed American gospel and R&B singer and member of the noted Winans family.

For more information: Email on [email protected]

Natural Hair Expo

Ghana Natural Hair Expo is a celebration of natural hair and Beauty show. It will feature panel discussions, educational workshops, hair braiding Competition, live entertainment, local and international vendors. The goal of the expo will allow women, men and children to embrace uniqueness of their natural hair and also learn about natural hair care.

For more Information: Email on [email protected]

Marcus Garvey Award Ball & Banquet

The purpose of the event is to commemorate The Right Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey’s 132 earth years. Also to celebrate the achievements of individuals who have demonstrated Pan-African unity and spirit both home and abroad. And lastly to engage in annual fundraising events where all proceeds will go towards the construction of a Marcus Garvey Pan-African Centre in Ghana.

For more information: Email [email protected]

Chale Wote 2019

Since its inception in 2014 by Accra(dot) ALT radio, Chalewote has seen immerse improvement.

It is an annual street art festival held to promote the work of local Artists and at the same time to create a competitive edge in street art in the region. this is achieved by inviting Artists worldwide to participate and showcase their work as well.

Voyajah Festival

In celebration of Ghana’s “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” The Voyajah Foundation will be launching their inaugural Homecoming Program in Ghana. Highlights of the program include a Voyajah Homecoming Festival, panel discussions, networking events, historical group tours, pop up stores and live music performances by both local and established high profile international artists.

H.E.R Collective presents Red, Black & Green Festival

H.E.R (Helping Elevation Rise) Collective presents the first R.B.G. (Red, Black and Gold) Festival 2019. This is to help Ghana and the world celebrate and pay homage to its first President the most honorable Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

For more information: Visit hercollective.org

Madiba Humanitarian Award – the Legacy of Nelson Mandela

Each October, BSMAA sponsors an annual fundraising gala to celebrate the life and legacy of Nelson “Madiba” Mandela.BSMAA’s Selection Awards Committee selects individuals who embody many of the principles that guided his life.

The Blueprint Conference

In celebration of the Year of the Return, the Blueprint Conference Accra will be themed “Celebrating African Heritage through Interior Design”. It will feature speakers that will hone in on the intersection between interior architecture, cultural inspiration and modernism. It will also attract participation from the diaspora and neighboring ECOWAS countries both as speakers and delegates.

For more information: Visit www.blueprintafrica.com

The Creatives Art Show

The Creatives Art Show”, brings together Ghanaian and foreign artists living in the country. These individuals get to meet art devotees coming from various parts of the world, to interact, network amongst themselves. And to share desires as artists and art lovers.

Artists can market and sell their work to possible buyers. The main goal for the event is to Promote Ghana through Creativity, to unify and highlight these great artists.

For more information: Email  [email protected] or (+233554602816 / +233242346963)

AfroChic

The AfroChic Cultural Arts Exhibit is a multi-disciplined mobile event. It highlights young and emerging talent of African descent through visual arts, music, technology, wellness activation while showcasing the diverse culture of the Afro-community. 

For more information: Call +233 50 911 1282

Afrochella 2019

AFROCHELLA is a festival designed to highlight & elevate thrilling and thriving millennial talent from and within Africa. The day features a festive celebration of our culture in the form of Art & Fashion Installations, Live painting, The Best of African Cuisine and Live performances.

 

On a final note, the year of return initiative is one of many initiatives established by Ghana to get African Americans to connect to their African roots.

In 2014, due to Ghana’s efforts, 3000 African Americans made Ghana their home.

We can hope and believe that the year of return would record a huge success and Ghana would be a gateway to the continent. 

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