Ghana’s Year of Return aimed at attracting African-Americans, in particular, to the country is rounding up.
Although the planning committee including the Tourism Ministry, the Ghana Tourism Authority and the government have organised various events to bring locals and those in the diaspora together, some observers believe more can be done. Others also feel the aim should be geared towards enticing persons with African ancestry to also invest in the Ghanaian economy.
And it does appear consultant and WeUp Tech Founder; Voltaire Xodus without any prompting has just made Ghana his home moving from the U.S and at the time of speaking with Efrem Gebreab with the BBC News Africa team has been living in the country for five weeks.
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Upon arrival, he set out to build networks going into spaces and attending events. Xodus is unfazed about not being in Ghana prior, noting “being in business, I’m looking at opportunities to be part of creating a city and country emerging.”
He added: “In the U.S all the seats are taken, all of the big brands are there.”
So beyond making money, what is Ghana’s allure?
Xodus said he is impressed with the peace in the West African country, adding it’s almost laughable when friends in Chicago, Illinois tell him to be careful while here, observing “there is a lot of violence in the city of Chicago. However, they say these things because of the imagery they are fed.”
For African-American sisters Angela Mathews and Cindy Myers from Long Island, California, they had to visit Ghana upon taking a DNA test and being told they hailed from the country. Mathews recalled how their grandparents hoped to return to the continent but couldn’t and so by visiting have become the first generation to make the link.
In retracing their roots, the sisters visited the Cape Coast Castle where British slavers traded some 12 million West Africans to slave buyers and owners in the Caribbean and Americas.
Emotional as the dungeon visits have proven to be making the likes of Steve Harvey weep, Angela Mathews after shedding tears and taking steps into the sea remarked: “I felt reunited with my ancestors. It was a wonderful feeling.”
For Lakeshia Ford who has been in Ghana for five years, she is comforted knowing in Ghana “there is no such thing as Black woman, I’m a woman period.”
She added that she doesn’t see color in the former Gold Coast because she is part of the majority, adding “that’s a privilege and a luxury.”
Ms. Ford moved to Ghana to start business.
“For any person in the diaspora, a trip needs to be made to the continent. There’s an undefined closure you didn’t even know you needed,” she submitted to the BBC.
Ghanaian authorities anticipate a 40% increase in the number of people visiting the country in the Year of Return – commemorating 400 years since the first documented enslaved Africans landed in the United States of America in 1619.
Already notable hotels and lodging facilities say they’ve been booked ahead of the festive season.
Angela Mathews wraps things up nicely when she says the current political climate in the U.S with Donald Trump as president makes it even more important to “know where you come from”, adding her trip has revealed that “I have a culture and belong to a people.”
A good number of African-Americans have decided to return for good, perhaps you too would love to enjoy the Ghanaian peace, warmth, favourable business climate while connecting with the land of your forebears.