Ghana attracts African-American vacationers with ’12 months of Return’

Vacationers pose for photos on the Cape Coast Fortress on August 18, 2019. AFP / Natalija Gormalova

Cape Coast, Ghana:  US preacher Roxanne Caleb blinked away the tears as she emerged from a pitch-dark dungeon the place African slaves have been as soon as held earlier than being shipped throughout the Atlantic to America.

“I wasn’t ready for this. I am heartbroken,” she instructed AFP as she toured the Cape Coast slave fort on Ghana’s ocean shore.

“My thoughts nonetheless cannot wrap round the truth that a human being can deal with one other worse than a rat.”

Caleb is among the many African-American guests flocking to Ghana because it marks the “12 months of Return” to recollect the four-hundredth anniversary of the primary slave ship touchdown in Virginia.

The West African nation is banking on the commemorations to present a serious increase to the variety of vacationer arrivals because it encourages the descendants of slaves to “come dwelling”.

Cape Coast Fortress, 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the capital Accra, is a serious magnet for these visiting

The white-washed fort lined with cannons was considered one of dozens of prisons studding the Atlantic coast the place slaves have been held earlier than their journey to the New World.

A string of outstanding African-Individuals have headed to the location this 12 months to mark the anniversary for the reason that first slave touchdown in 1619.

Amongst them was a delegation of Congressional Black Caucus led by Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi that toured final month.

‘Cannot neglect historical past’

For these visiting it’s an emotional ceremony of passage.

See also  China electrical automotive gross sales forecast to hit report 6 million

“This has been understanding my historical past and my roots the place I got here from,” Caleb stated.

“I’m very grateful I got here right here as a part of the 12 months of Return.”

Sampson Nii Addy, a corrections officer with the Montgomery police division in Alabama, stated he and his household had discovered the tour an “schooling”.

“I feel each black particular person wants to return round to study historical past; how individuals have been handled,” the 52-year-old instructed AFP.

“We won’t neglect historical past however we will at all times study one thing from it.”

Ghana, one of many continent’s most steady democracies, has lengthy pitched itself as a vacation spot for African-Individuals to discover their heritage and even settle completely.

In 2009 President Barack Obama visited together with his household and paid homage on the Cape Coast Fortress.

The “12 months of Return” has added contemporary impetus and the nation is hoping it is going to improve customer numbers from 350,000 in 2018 to 500,000 this 12 months, together with 45,000 African-Individuals.

Kojo Keelson has spent 9 years guiding tour teams across the Cape Coast Fortress and says 2019 has seen a surge in curiosity as Ghana seems to be to rake in tourism income of $925 million (830 million euros).

“It is like a pilgrimage. This 12 months we have much more African-Individuals coming via than the earlier 12 months,” he instructed AFP.

“I am urging all of them to return dwelling and expertise and reconnect to the motherland.”

‘Love to return once more’

See also  Venice set to cost vacationers for entry from subsequent summer season

Akwasi Awua Ababio, the official coordinating “12 months of Return” occasions, pointed to excessive resort occupancy charges as he stated “enthusiasm could be very excessive and we have large numbers coming from the US and Caribbean”.

He insisted that past the key financial increase, Ghana was additionally wanting to make use of the brand new connections it’s forging to persuade the descendants of slaves to resettle for good and assist the nation develop.

“Human useful resource is at all times an asset and we have to see how we will welcome them dwelling to utilise their experience and networks,” the director for diaspora affairs on the presidency stated.

The African American Affiliation of Ghana brings collectively those that have moved to West Africa and presents assist to combine them into their new environment.

President Gail Nikoi praised the “12 months of Return” initiative by Ghanaian chief Nana Akufo-Addo and stated the nation was “setting the stage for future engagements and involvement of African-Individuals and different Africans from the diaspora within the improvement of this nation.”

However she stated the authorities may nonetheless be doing extra to assist entice arrivals and persuade them to remain.

“Dialogue and engagement is step one,” she stated.

Whereas most of these visiting Cape Coast weren’t fascinated with settling again completely — they stated the journey had opened their eyes to each their very own historical past and what Ghana has to supply.

“It has broadened my horizons about how we got here to be right here and what our ancestors went via,” stated William Shaw, 57, from Montgomery.

See also  QSL renews sponsorship cope with Doha Bus

“I might love to return once more. There may be much more to see right here in Ghana… at the very least as soon as in a 12 months I would advise African-Individuals to return again to their homeland and study their historical past.”