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Year of Return, Ghana 2019

Year of Return, Ghana 2019

The celebration after my naming ceremony

The celebration after my naming ceremony

2019 is the Year of Return to Ghana. It marks 400 years since the first enslaved Africans were shipped from the Ghanaian coast to the United States, initiating the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. As time went on, millions of Africans were kidnapped and brought to America as free labor.

Walking to the “Door of No Return” in the Cape Coast Slave Castle.

Walking to the “Door of No Return” in the Cape Coast Slave Castle.

Ghana is welcoming all Africans in the diaspora to return to retrace their history and claim their ancestral space. It’s a birthright journey home for the African family across the globe.

Celebrities like Idris Elba, Naomi Campbell, Rosario Dawson, and Michael Jai White, have already made the trip back to Ghana to kick off the year, spending Christmas and New Year’s there.

Lots of travel companies are offering special tours for this purpose. When I went to Ghana in October of 2018, I partnered with Ashanti African Tours. I loved my trip and wouldn't have changed a thing. The food, the hand-sewn clothes, the hotels, the warm hospitality, the nightlife, I enjoyed it all. If you like to take trips to the Caribbean, you’ll fit in well in Ghana.

Ashanti African Tours was a great company to work with. They were professional, friendly and very detailed. They had a variety of tours including those focused on culture and history and also birding tours, catering to people who like to photograph nature.

I liked the company’s business model. A percentage of every tour went toward building schools in Ghana. When I visited, I got to see one of the schools they were building in a very rural village between Kumasi and Cape Coast.

Visiting one of the schools Ashanti African Tours was building for a nearby village

Visiting one of the schools Ashanti African Tours was building for a nearby village

While there, Ashanti African Tours provided me a driver and tour guide to take me around for nine days. We traveled around Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast. They picked me up from the hotel in the mornings, took me to destinations on our itinerary, and then dropped me off at the hotel in the evenings. They were the first people I saw when I arrived at the airport in Accra, , and the last people I saw as I boarded my plane back to the United States. This was my first solo trip and it was amazing!

Typical Ghanaian meal with fish and jollof rice

Typical Ghanaian meal with fish and jollof rice

Their itineraries were very thorough. When you go to Ghana, you’ll want to visit Independence Square in Accra and the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. You’ll also want to check out Kumasi, where you’ll see Kente cloth being made as well as the Adinkra symbols like Sankofa. You’ll also want to have a naming ceremony. And of course, you’ll want to visit the slave castles in Cape Coast and Elmina, and Assin Manso, where the enslaved Africans took their last baths before heading to the slave castles.

Receiving permission from the chief for my naming ceremony

Receiving permission from the chief for my naming ceremony

The Year of Return allows African descendants to learn, see, and feel how their ancestors were transformed into slaves, but to also learn about the history and culture their ancestors were forced to leave behind.

A typical Kente booth in the market

A typical Kente booth in the market

In the end, I walked away prouder than ever of my heritage. My ancestors survived the slave dungeons, the Middle Passage, and slavery in the United States. I was reminded that unbreakable spirit lived within me.

Reflecting on what I learned at the Cape Coast Castle

Reflecting on what I learned at the Cape Coast Castle

Free flights for kids

Free flights for kids

48 Hours in San Francisco

48 Hours in San Francisco