Sicley Williams was prepared to flee what she discovered an unfriendly local weather within the United States and take a leap of religion, leaving her native Chicago for Ghana.
She had beforehand visited the West African nation on vacation and when she returned in 2017 discovered work practising yoga and providing spa providers.
“The local weather of the US was just actually negative, particularly the racial local weather,” stated Williams.
In Ghana, that tension disappeared virtually fully, she added.
“It’s rather more nice to be in a spot the place you’re feeling extra accepted, you’re feeling freer, you’re feeling extra open to being who you might be and, after all, you might be round individuals who appear to be you.”
President Nana Akufo-Addo has designated 2019 the “Year of Return” each to commemorate the resilience of Africans pressured into slavery and to encourage their descendants to “come home”.
“We know of the extraordinary achievements and contributions they (Africans within the diaspora) made to the lives of the Americans, and it’s important that this symbolic year, 400 years later, we commemorate their existence and their sacrifices,” he stated final September.
His timing was primarily based on the first recorded touchdown of a ship carrying Africans in Virginia in August 1619, stated by historians to be an English warship that had plundered a Portuguese slaver.
Celebrities including supermodel Naomi Campbell and actors Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson kicked off the year-long programme by attending the Full Circle Festival in Accra in late December.
Year of Return
Ghana remains to be dotted with dungeons and castles established throughout the slave commerce, which function a robust reminder of the previous to teach residents and overseas guests about slavery.
US former president Barack Obama and his household visited the Cape Coast Castle in 2009 and described it as a spot of “profound disappointment”.
“It reminds us that as dangerous as historical past could be, it is also doable to beat,” he instructed reporters throughout the tour of the landmark, with its notorious “door of no return” within the dungeon.
Akufo-Addo’s invitation is not the first from Ghanaian presidents.
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In 2000, Ghana handed laws designed to make it simpler for folks from the African diaspora to dwell and work within the nation.
Akufo-Addo has pledged to simplify the visa course of.
Tourism Minister Catherine Abelema Afeku is organising music and tradition festivals, including Ghana independence celebrations in March.
There can even be Panafest, a theatre competition aimed toward bringing collectively Africans on the continent and within the diaspora “across the problems with slavery”.
Support and growth
Christabel Dadzie hopes that 12 months of celebration will encourage Ghanaians within the diaspora to maneuver again.
After a decade working within the United States, Dadzie based the Ahaspora Young Professionals to help these within the diaspora make the transition to Ghana.
With a community of about 2,000 folks, Dadzie and others help area questions like get a job, the place to recruit a babysitter and even purchase family items.
The group additionally presents group providers such as mentoring highschool college students in skilled growth and has raised funds and donations for catastrophe reduction.
Seeing these within the diaspora coming to Ghana “might be nice for our tourism and camaraderie, attending to know different people who find themselves associated to the nation,” stated Dadzie, who’s planning one of many occasions of the celebration.
“They come home and do superb entrepreneurial issues so really thrive right here.”
Entrepreneur Dedo Azu stated there have been obvious challenges to transferring to Ghana, including having to pay one or two years’ hire up entrance and a way of alienation.
After 11 years in Canada it took Azu a while to search out her toes.
But she had a breakthrough because the proprietor of Tea Baa, considered one of Accra’s hottest bars, serving ice chilly drinks in Mason jars.
Those who’re decided to “come home” can carve out a residing, stated Azu. “If you come, you’ll discover slightly area to do what you need or make it higher.
“If all of us got here again and introduced what now we have, perhaps we’d actually have one thing to point out off,” stated Azu, taking a sip of an iced Earl Grey tea.
She understands why the government is inviting folks again. “It boils right down to a easy message, ‘We love you, come home’,” she stated.