Year of Return is a concept initiated by the Ghanaian leaders since independence in 1957, to attract Africans abroad, home. It is a concept used to frame Africa’s liberation all over the world to come back to Africa and settle. Year of return is used to reach out to Africans who are scattered abroad as a result of the slave trade. There are a lot of African-Americans who are yet to trace their origin since the abolition of slavery. However, Ghana is making it a priority to ensure that Africans in Diaspora reunite with their motherland of origin.
Year of Return; The Journey So Far
During Ghana’s 50th independence celebration in 2007, the Joseph project was initiated. This project was to celebrate the abolition of the slave trade 200 years ago and to encourage Africans abroad to return home. However, Ghana’s parliament had passed a citizenship Act in the year 2000 to make provision for dual citizenship. This Act makes it possible for those who originated from Ghana but have citizenship abroad, to be able to acquire Ghanaian citizenship. And Ghana, as a nation, has gone further to enact the Immigration Act. This Immigration Act provides a “Right of Abode” to Africans in Diaspora, allowing them to enter and exit the country without hindrance. un.org In Washington, D.C. last year, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana formally launched the celebration of the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019.” He ignited fresh energy to the quest of uniting Africans in Diaspora back to their continent.
The Year of Return is celebrated in the African history of the slave trade in August 1619. It was a year when a ship carrying African slaves docked at Point Comfort in the British colony of Virginia. So we can say that the first enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia, which is presently a part of the United States. Hence, 2019 is significant for this celebration because it marks the 400th anniversary of a historical moment. However, Year Of Return in Ghana is designed to build tourism while reconnecting diaspora African descendants to their continent.
Ghana was a major hub for the transatlantic slave trade from the 16th to the 19th century but later became home to various African American figures. Those who found their way into the country felt at home, such as Maya Angelou, a poet and writer, W.E.B. Du Bois, a scholar and civil rights activist who became a naturalized citizen of Ghana. W.E.B. Du Bois was the founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the US. He settled at Lebone with his wife until his death in 1963 and was buried at Accra, Ghana’s capital city.
Year Of Return Celebration 2019
During the celebration, Ghana welcomes our African brothers and sisters home for a global African family reunion. And provisions are made for travelers to tour the slave sites, explore the natural wonders of Ghana, participate in traditional West African activities like dancing, bead making, cooking, etc. According to teenvogue.com
However, the most exciting part of 2019 “Years of Return” was when the president granted 126 African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans citizenship. The judge administered the oath of allegiance at Jubilee House, the seat of government. The new citizens were dressed in colorful traditional attires and jewelry to grace the occasion. And they all received a presidential handshake and collected their certificates with joy. However, the focus of this event is to memorialize the liberation of Africa from slavery.