December 17 2019 – Vanessa Abankwah
People are flocking in the Thousands to Africa this Christmas to celebrate the Year of Return. It was last September when Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo declared and formally launched the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” for Africans in the Diaspora to return to the continents and connect with their roots. This marks 400 years since the anniversary of the “arrival of Africans in the English colonies at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619.”
This is an experience of a life time getting the opportunity to experience the rich culture and heritage Ghana has to offer. Also, they say is famous quote from Maya Angelou "If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going".
I remember growing up my experience of Ghana was just visiting family members and getting bitten by mosquitos, I hated it. it wasn't till I went to Ghana as an adult did I get to experience its true beauty. My first visit would be Elmina and Cape Coast Castle where I would have the most emotion experience taking a trip through the prisons where they held the slaves. You can almost feel the ancestors spirits crying out to you as you travel through room after room and the most life changing is the Door of no Return. As the tour guide annonces at this point the slaves would know they were about to board the ships to various places around the world and sold into slavery never to return. I was in tears and taken back but I feel it was an experience that needed to be made. It made me appreciate my ancestors for their lives, the culture, the heritage because despite the cruel history Ghana had come along way, being the first African country to gain Independence. I also visited the Kakum Bridge, Freedom Square, and over 10 beaches , it was like being in a dream and also having the chance to volunteer to was the icing on the cake. It was far from what charities like Children in Need and Save the Children would show us, of malnutritioned children, with flies all around them living in hunts. This had contributed to reasons why people did not want to experience the beauty that is Africa. Don't get me wrong year after year, when I would go to the villages and certain populations are still suffering but not all. So, maybe as people of the diaspora return to Africa they can enjoy and experience the culture but as pour back in to place that made them who they are today.
We saw on social media last Christmas actor and actress couple Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker ushering their american celeb friends into Ghanaian culture. Friends included Rosario Dawson, Diggy Simmons, Anthony Anderson, Jidenna, Michael Jai White, Idris Elba.
Since celebrities such as Steve harvey, Lisa Raye and Cardi B have been spotted in Ghana reconnecting with their roots. The airports and airlines have been fully booked as everyone is heading to Ghana and Nigeria this Christmas to celebrate in style.
My only concern is what becomes of Africa after this year as the year of return is becoming a hashtag which will soon expire. What does it mean for people, the places and the economy?
What was your experience when you visited? Will you go again?