President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has described the outcome of the ‘Year of Return’ campaign as a “welcome shock”.
Nana Akufo-Addo, while in Washington, D.C., in September 2018, declared and formally launched the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” for Africans in the Diaspora.
Its purpose was to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the time when the first 20 West African slaves were brought to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which subsequently became part of the United States of America, thereby initiating one of the most unfortunate and barbaric episodes of human history – the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
With 75 per cent of the slave dungeons built on the West coast of Africa, through which the slaves were transported, located in Ghana, he stated that the country believed that it had a responsibility to extend a hand of welcome back home to Africans in the diaspora.
Since the launch, Ghana has seen an array of celebrities across the globe make their way into the country to unite with Africans on the continent.
Speaking to Haitian-American journalist, Roland Martin, at the Jubilee House, Nana Akufo-Addo said: “It’s more than I expected. We had hoped that it will have a big resonance but it has had a much bigger resonance than anticipated. It’s a shock alright, but it is a welcomed shock”.
Asked the experience he wanted the diasporans to have when the initiative was launched, President Akufo-Addo told Roland Martin: “I think something really quite simple: the recognition that we all are the same; that we are from one family. We are now divided by the ocean, the Atlantic and, of course, by history, very tragic history, but essentially that we are all one family.”
To sustain the gains from the Year of Return initiative Nana Akufo-Addo, on Friday, 27 December 2019, launched the “Beyond the Return, The Diaspora Dividend” Initiative, at a brief ceremony at the Kempinski Hotel, Accra.
Nana Akufo-Addo stated that the rationale of ‘Beyond the Return’ is to “engage Africans in the diaspora and all persons of African descent more positively in areas such as trade and investment co-operation, and skills and knowledge development”.