You’ve been gone it’s an empty home
Come on back when you’re ready to know
You are always welcome home
The words of the timeless 1975 song by Osibisa say it all! This is the Year of Return and indeed August 2019 marks 400 years since the first set of enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia in the United States of America. The torrid stories of their dramatic capture, inhumane storage, dangerous transportation and painful lives on arrival at the plantations have been well- documented. But today we will not dwell on the negatives… no! .. We celebrate the remarkable resilience of the African Spirit that has survived centuries of aggression, discrimination exploitation humiliation and unhindered plundering of the continent’s resources by other races. You’d indubitably agree that directly and indirectly, Africa and its people has played a crucial role in developing other continents. So, in spite of all the present challenges there is a lot to celebrate! We are proudly black, strong and resilient.
Happily, Government has shown strong, firm leadership in the enterprise of celebrating the Year of Return. Launched by H.E the President in Washington D.C. in September 2018, elaborate plans were hatched to ensure the year was appropriately recognized both in Ghana and beyond. Starting with the creation of a high-level steering committee at the Presidency, a wide array of activities have been laid out including the granting of citizenship to some 200 Africans in the Diaspora.
Of course, one major ambition is to position Ghana as a key travel destination for African Americans and the African diaspora. RoamGhana hopes the event firms Ghana’s position as the ‘Gateway for West Africa’.
Have you realized there is something interesting about the Year of Return? No? Just take a guess. Voila! The “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” will coincide with the Pan African Historical Theatre Festival (PANAFEST) which is marked biennially. The host cities for PANAFEST are the ancient capital of Ghana, Cape Coast, and Elmina which are also the homes of the Cape Coast and Elmina Castles respectively. Interestingly, both are recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as World Heritage Sites of the slave era.
The Year of Return is a celebration for all Africans, not just our unfortunate ancestors who witnessed the horrors of the period but all who today still face all forms of discrimination.The “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” is with no doubt a fine opportunity for Africans living in Africa and those outside to bridge the gap between themselves and rebuild the continent of their roots. RoamGhana wishes all a happy PANAFEST AND EMANCIPATION period. Let all stakeholders… State Institutions, service providers, host community and visitors treat each other with professionalism and civility! Welcome home!