By Lauren Poteat, NNPA Washington Correspondent
Paying homage to the past and a hope to a brighter future, 2019 will officially mark the 400-year anniversary since the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to English North America in 1619.
In remembrance of the dark history and the celebration of the Black American’s triumph in the midst of grave adversity, the West African country of Ghana has officially declared 2019, the “Year of Return,” for people of color, inviting the global African family to a birth-right journey back to their home country.
During a heartfelt ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., on Sep. 28, Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, offered an official proclamation “Year of Return, Ghana” as the endorsed time of homecoming for Black people.
“The time has come for people of African descent to make the journey back home,” Akufo-Addo said. “With historic leaders and creatives like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., WEB DuBois, Maya Angelou, Stevie Wonder, who have all honored Ghana with their presence and been inspired by Ghana… Ghana has opened its arms wide and welcomes its other brothers and sisters back home. Never again should Africans allow themselves to be enslaved… We are home.”
With the announcement serving as the only centrally organized public-private partnership with an African nation, Rep. Sheila Jackson- Lee (D- Texas) expressed her heartfelt sentiments with the new proclamation and her love for her people.
“The continent which I honor and Ghana with its amazing history, will be in the forefront of galvanizing and cementing this wonderful relationship between the nation of the United States of America, the people of the United States of America and the great Republican nation of Ghana with this wonderful President and First Lady, leading us into the 21st and 22nd century.”
“Those who have never been, if they go, will experience a certain coming of age, that will be grander than we’ve ever imagined,” Jackson continued.
The Ghana Tourism Authority under the auspices of the Tourism Ministry will spearhead the year-long calendar of activities in partnership with the Office of Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the President, the Adinkra group and the Panafest Foundation, led by Executive Secretary Rabbi Kohain.
“Our mission to remember what they have done, but to also be worthy of their sacrifices,” Kohain said. “This is not just one event, it’s a historical statement. 400 years has been long enough for people to explain and write and narrate African stories. We must write our own stories.
“Ghana is the only African country with a Black star in the center of its flag,” Kohain continued. “That means Ghana is the destination for the return to our roots.”
Events scheduled for the upcoming year are said to include the “Bra Fie” Concert hosted by Damien Marley, son of renowned activist and reggae artist Bob Marley, in January, a Homecoming and Investment Summit in June; Panafest and Emancipation in July, Ghana Carnival in November and Afrochella in December.
To learn more about “The Year of Return, Ghana 2019” visit: Year of Return.