2019 was the Year of Return marking 400 years since the first African slaves "left the continent"; Gyankroma Akufo-Addo, director of the Creative Arts Council, Ghana told the world in an the The Guardian's article 'Ghana have a good time: top tips for visiting the country' "it is the perfect time for black people across the world to come to Ghana and start their ancestral journey." He explained that the 2019 Year of Return is a "celebration of our culture and heritage, but there’s history to soak up, too. A trip to Elmina Castle is a must. A few hours drive from Accra, it was the last port of call for slaves being forced to leave the continent. You don’t have to be African to feel at home here, that’s my tip to visitors. We’re a fun-loving people, as long as everyone is shown respect. We are waiting for you, come and see us."
Wall mural in Accra, Ghana
There’s a burgeoning arts scene in the capital, on the Atlantic coast in West Africa. Every August the Chale Wote Festival takes place in Jamestown, the oldest district; the visual arts event started with 500 guests and in 2019 hosted nearly 40,000 people.
Jamestown in Accra, Ghana
Veteran Hollywood actor Danny Glover and members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) visited Ghana in 2019 to participate in the Jamestown to Jamestown event as part of the Year of Return. Numbering about 300, the group met with Ghana's President Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House, the presidential palace in Accra. NAACP President and CEO, Derrick Johnson, said that his group was very appreciative of the warm reception they received. “We want to thank you for the open arms you have received us with, we are proud to be Africans, we are proud to be part of this great celebration", he said.”
Photo from NAACP's Jamestown to Jamestown Trip
Earlier in the year Johnson had announced that the "Jamestown to Jamestown experience represents one of the most powerful moments in the history of the Black Experience. We are now able to actualize the healing and collective unity so many generations have worked to achieve in ways which bring power to our communities in America, Africa and throughout our Diaspora.” While in Ghana the group visited historic places of significance to the emancipation struggle, including the W.E.B Dubois Centre, Last Bath at Assin Manso, Slave Dungeons in Elmina and Cape Coast. The JAMESTOWN TO JAMESTOWN Blog on the NAACP website details their once-in-a-lifetime journey.
August 21, 2019 Danny Glover and members of the NAACP group in Accra
108 Photos- 2019 Year of Return: Danny GloverNAACP Group in Ghana for the Jamestown to Jamestown event
Diallo Sumbry, CEO of the Washington-based Adinkra Group that coordinates birthright journeys to Ghana and organized this 10-day NAACP trip reflected on the significance of the Year of Return. “This is probably the most significant because two days ago, we were in Jamestown, Virginia (US) in a place where they found the remains of Africans who were there, they found artifacts and they’ve opened up an archeological site to continue to do the research to connect us from Jamestown to Jamestown." The first documented arrival of Africans to the colony of Virginia was recorded by John Rolfe in 1619.
Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo and members of the NAACP
Akufo-Addo advises visitors "If you’re in Accra for a good time then prepare not to sleep – that’s always my advice to visitors. There’s always another opening, house party or album listening session to get to. Akufo-Addo says that he is all about the galleries and exhibitions "My favourite is Omanye House owned by Professor Ablade Glover, a leading light in Africa’s art scene. It’s the perfect place to see work from all over: Ghana, Mali, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire. The back of the bar faces out on the ocean. Listen to the Sincerely Accra podcast hosted by Joseph Nti. It’s full of interviews and vox pops with local residents discussing the biggest topics of the day."