By Danielle Pointdujour | essence.com
2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the start of slave trade in West Africa, and as the survivors of the descendants, Ghana is calling Black people of the diaspora home.
If it felt like everyone you knew was in Ghana over the holidays, you’re not alone. Friends and celebrities alike swarmed the capital city of Accra to usher in the New Year and live their best lives at vibrant festivals like Afrochella, which was hands down the country’s event of the season.
There’s no need to get a case of FOMO though. Ghana has declared 2019 the “Year of the Return,” for Black people around the diaspora. From soul stirring tributes to the ancestors at the Full Circle Festival, to concerts and festivals, there are plenty of opportunities for you to get in on the action.
Cherae Robinson, Founder of Tastemakers Africa, a disruptive travel company that is changing the typical narrative and giving travelers a new and experiential way to see Africa, couldn’t be more excited to see the increased interest in travel to the Continent, and is doing her part to make sure people don’t miss out on the festivities next year.
“Africa is 54 nations of amazing experiences. From the culture and history of Ghana and the beaches and safaris of Kenya, to the landscapes and vibes of South Africa and beyond, it is the sleeper pick for Black travel in 2019,” she told ESSENCE. “Home grown festivals and events that rival Coachella, welcoming arms of Black and brown people, and direct flights from the U.S. mean it’s finally time to go home, again and again.”
Still not sure Ghana should be on your travel list this year? Check out Robinson’s reasons why Black people everywhere need to return home to Ghana in 2019 and beyond.
Pan Africanism is real in Ghana
A little history lesson: Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president studied at Lincoln University, an HBCU just outside of Philadelphia. While president, Mr. Nkrumah was host to many African-American and diaspora leaders from around the world including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, W.E.B. Du Bois, Maya Angelou, and Muhammed Ali. He is often referred to as the father of Pan-Africanism, and that vision is felt throughout the city from Black Star Square to the W.E.B. Du Bois burial site and memorial. It is the perfect place to envision a united Africa and diaspora.
Ghana is LIT!
Ghana is going through a bit of a rebirth as a destination. Last year, The New York Times Magazine named Accra the coolest city in Africa, each August thousands of creatives and artists flock there for Chale Wote, the biggest street art festival in West Africa, and this past December all your favorite celebs (Idris Elba, Naomi Campbell, and Jidenna to name a few) descended on Ghana to connect with home and turn all the way up. From afrobeats in the club to special events like The Garden Party, to one of the fastest growing festivals on the continent Afrochella, there is no shortage of things to do and vibes to find.
The people are stunning
You know what comes from Ghana? Shea Butter. You know what makes melanin pop? Shea Butter. Put these two things together and you’ve got a land of melanin chocolate drips from chiseled men (beards and all) to beautiful queens. There is a serving of Ghana Jollof to admire for everyone.
Getting to Ghana is easy
Travel to Ghana is relatively simple when compared to other African nations. There are direct flights to Accra, the nation’s capital from NYC and Washington, D.C. Their new airport is super swanky and easy to navigate, English is the main language, and a lot of the food will be similar to foods from the South (except much spicier). With only a five hour time difference from the East Coast, it’s probably the best first African country to visit for a mix of authenticity, without being too intense. If you are worried about the visa wahala (colloquial West African term for worry or struggle), Ghana is one of the easiest in that regard too – the process and payment is done online and a rush visa can be secured in as little as 48 hours.
Because we need to be surrounded by ancestors right now
2019 marks the 400th Anniversary of the start of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and it has been declared the “Year of Return” by the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo. Given the political and economic environments facing Black people around the world, reaching back home is just the medicine we need to get inspired to turn things around for ourselves and our communities. Sankofa is a word in the Twi language of Ghana that translates to “Go back and get it.” Twi is the language of the Asante, the most storied tribe in Ghana and makers of the original Kente cloth we know so well. Given that we are outchea making New Years resolutions about these coins, it is a good idea to sew those seeds at the place that birthed us all.