It’s the last Saturday of the year in the heart of Accra, Ghana’s capital.
They all have one thing in common: They answered Ghana’s call to come home.
A new Harlem Renaissance Ghana is having a moment and some describe it as akin to the Harlem Renaissance, the 1920s movement in the United States that’s credited with revolutionizing African-American arts and culture.
“The Harlem Renaissance was a time when African culture and arts were finally being valued during a period when segregation and racism ran rampant in America,” Araujo told CNN. “We are finding now that the diaspora wants to experience their culture and feel accepted in a place where racism is not so engrained as in many parts of the West,” she says of Ghana’s appeal.
In 2019, Ghana ran a hugely popular Year of Return campaign to attract international visitors of Ghanaian descent.
Among them was the mother of megastar Beyoncé, Tina Lawson, who was visiting Ghana for the first time.
“I understand now why everyone is talking about coming here. This place makes me want to heal.” Felix Darko, 26, a German-Ghanaian computer engineer who moved to Ghana when he was 8, says the Year of Return is significant.
“It was the year that Ghana jumped into the global and diaspora consciousness,” he says.
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Our ancestors never gave up Faith. You can never imprison our minds nor our spirits. They empowered me to Return. I have completed the cycle and I’m beginning a new Cycle. The Chains have been Broken and the indomitable resilience of African People Triumphs 🙏🏽 ✊🏽 #yearofthereturn
“This place is incredibly rich in culture and is also one of the more culturally relevant places to visit for the diaspora as most slaves that were taken from the continent were done so from our shores.” ‘A spiritual and birthright journey’ The Year of Return marked 400 years since the first arrival of African slaves stepped on American soil.
The Ghana Tourism Authority and Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture spearheaded the campaign, inviting the “Global African family, home and abroad” to make the “Landmark spiritual and birthright journey.” Two hours west of the capital, in the Cape Coast, comedian Steve Harvey, actors Boris Kodjoe, Danny Glover and musicians T.I. and Ludacris all visited the Elmina Castle, a life-changing trip for most, who come to tour the major hub that served as the final destination in Africa for millions of slaves before being shipped overseas.
Ghana attracted a number of high profile guests in 2019, particularly in the latter part of the year in the lead up to the Year of Return festivities.
In November, talkshow host Conan O’Brien traveled to Ghana where he danced with locals, Naomi Campbell took part in Jack Ma’s entrepreneur summit and Cardi B performed for fans in a December concert.
Ghana Tourism Authority’s CEO, Akwasi Agyemang, told CNN that the social, economic and media impact from Year of Return has been a “Phenomenal awakening.” A rival to Ibiza or Cape Cod? The World Bank also notes that compared to 2018, Ghana’s economy expanded with a GDP growth rate at 6.7% in the first quarter alone, its private sector grew stronger and local businesses have seen a significant improvement, said Agyemang.
It is the “Ghana Bug,” which once bitten, makes you hold her dear in your heart.