African day is highly celebrated everywhere in the world, last year Africans march on the street of New York to celebrate the day. But this year, they are coming home, returning to their roots. Back in history Ghana was a major hub for the transatlantic slavery business which runs for centuries. Since the abolition of slavery, 2019 this year marks the 400 years of slavery thus the sacrifices, efforts, and achievements made by African slaves all over the world. 2019 marks the 400 years when the first enslaved Africans arrived in the US where some were exchanged for food before they were being sold to English traders, it is estimated that between 1525 and 1866 12.5 million Africans were chained into slavery and shipped out of their homes to other parts of the world which includes South and North America, the Caribbean, etc.
The House of Slavery in Senegal and Elmina Castle are two important features in the slavery history serving as a major spot of slave trading, the point of no return. Ghana formally launched the “Year Of Return 2019” which encompassed with diverse activities encouraging Africans in the diaspora to retrace their lineages and return back to the continent and with fresh energy to unite with Africa.
This initiative has been the dream of the then President Kwame Nkrumah, to provide a framework of African Liberation and unity a concept to draw all African all over the world to return back to Africa, to help the continent grow, helping with their knowledge gathered oversea, their economic status, and human capital; skills and services etc. This initiative has seen many African America return to the continent, either as tourists or as descendants who want to know more about their roots. Many people around the world have expressed their excitement and interest to visit Africa for the first especially celebrities.
In Malawi, Pop globe Superstar Rihanna visited the country and supported education, through the charity works she donated bicycles, and financial support to school girls to help them stay in school through the Clara Lionel Foundation. Coming up with the five-year bike program, she is delivering bikes to Malawi for free, as an initiative and tribute to her grandparents. The Barbados singer sees the need for education thus the provision of the bicycles as a form of encouragement to keep Malawian school girls in school. An initiative that would not only help Malawian to grow but the whole of Africa to grow as well.
Ghana has seen over 40 African diaspora celebrities troop into the country, to take part in the “The Full Circle” one of the designed event of the Year of Return initiative. Some of these celebrities include Idris Elba, Naomi Campbell, Boris Kodjoe, Adrienne-Joi Johnson, Anthony Anderson, Stevey Harvey, US Senator Ilhan Omar, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Jai White, etc. These diasporans were involved in different activities like healing ceremonies, visits to heritage sites, theatre and musical performance, investment and business forums.
The role of these initiatives is not just for the unity of the diaspora to the Africa continent. But it goes a long way to enhance other elements of Africa’s development. The boosting of tourism to enhancing the economy, the engagement of African American knowing their heritage pushes them to travel to the continents especially the forts, castles, museums where the Africans were forcibly departed from their homes and trafficked to the US, Europe, etc. These places are where the real story happened, where the history resides. This allows the diaspora to understand Africa, our culture, history and heritage, in the long run, it stimulates economic development. Again an opportunity for the continent to sell Africa right, to make it pride, dignity like none other.
This open invitation should be for African Americans to come back to their various homes and possibly relocate but the question arises is the continent ready to host and accommodate these diasporas in terms of establishing their business, sharing and execution of knowledge to help the nations. Although these diasporas have been tracing their ancestry for decades, looking for answers concerning their heritage. African should be prepared in all way, in basic and public amenities and infrastructures to accommodate them least they head back to the Western world.
It would be ideal for the continent to make use and take advantage of its own history largely to improve on its facets as a nation, after all, we as a continent suffered the impact of slavery, it will be ideal to turn such history into benefits, by bringing back home our brothers and sisters to help, support and improve the continent.
Knowing our heritage is significant, it is up to us as a continent to strategically translate the return of the diasporas into critical and sustainable efforts and venture that will shape what we already have as a continent and making the best of Africa. It is our heritage, our history, culture and we ought to turn it around to our advantage in our modern era, to serve us to the fullest and even to generations yet unborn.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
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