The year 2019 marks exactly 400 years since slavery began. The about 200 year long slavery experience that tore apart and displaced many families in Africa by carrying away many of its able-bodied children, men and women in ships to plantations in the Americas, Europe, the Carribean Islands and Asia. The abolishment of slavery after a duration of about 200 years has unsettled many people in the diaspora who have African roots about their history, culture and heritage.
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo inaugurated the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” for Africans in the diaspora, as a gesture to unite Africans on the continent with those in the diaspora. The “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” is an official invitation to the global African family to visit Ghana and experience some of the historical sites during the slave era. One of the main goals of the Year of Return campaign is to position Ghana as a key travel destination for African Americans and the African Diaspora.
For those visiting Ghana for the first time, this is an amazing opportunity to explore Ghana’s rich cultural heritage. Ghana is divided into 16 regions with well over 100 ethnic groups, each with its own unique cultural heritage. Some popular ones you should consider exploring are:
- Kente Weaving
Kente weaving is one of Ghana’s most sacred and cherished trades that is deeply rooted in tradition. It is believed that two friends from a town called Bonwire (a leading town for the production of Kente in Ghana) had their weaving lessons from observing a spider weave its web. They replicated the spider’s weave which resulted in them weaving a beautiful raffia fabric. The Asantehene did not hesitate to adopt the fabric for all Asantis as a national cloth for special occasions like funerals, festivals, naming ceremonies and marriage ceremonies. Afterwards, the production was improved but the name “Kente” was retained. Bonwire, located 18 km off the Kumasi – Mampong road, has since become a settlement with hundreds of Kente weavers.
Agotime Kpetoe is a cluster of villages located near the Togo border in the Volta Region of Ghana renowned for producing kente cloth for generations. Agotime is known to have the highest concentration of kente weavers in West Africa. The weavers have formed an association where the kente weaving skill is learned and passed down to younger generations. The indigenous people of Kpetoe insist that their forefathers introduced the Kente cloth long before the Ashantis did. In fact, the people of Agotime hold an annual kente festival to showcase new techniques and innovations in the kente Industry and also attract tourists to the region.
You have never really celebrated festivals if you have not experienced the Aboakyer festival. The festival is typically celebrated by the people of Simpa in the Central region of Ghana to commemorate a safe journey from Timbuktu to their present location in Ghana. According to tradition, their god (Otu) requested human sacrifice annually in exchange for its protection over the people. Members of the royal family and slaves were sacrificed to appease the god till a more humane alternative was sought out with the advent of civilization. The “wansan” (deer) became a practicable and more acceptable substitute after the initial alternative of capturing a live leopard resulted in more loss of lives than the sacrifice of a single slave.
- Elmina Castle
The Elmina Castle was built by the Portuguese in 1482 but later colonized by the Dutch in 1637. It is the oldest European structure in sub-Saharan Africa and served as a holding place where some 30,000 slaves were traded annually before they were shipped overseas. Slaves were typically captured inland, then brought to the outpost on an arduous journey that often lasted many days. Thousands of slaves – both men and women – were chained outside and forced to stand in the blazing sun. They could be made to lift heavy cannonballs as punishment and women were often raped by the guards.
Slave traders would cram more than 1,000 slaves, with no water or sanitation, into a space that could barely fit 200 people. These dungeons were uncomfortably cramped, filthy, and outbreaks of malaria and yellow fever were common. Food was scarce and disease was rampant.
Prisoners sometimes had to spend up to three months in such unsanitary conditions before they were shipped overseas. At the seaboard side of the castle is the infamous ‘Door of No Return’, which was a portal where slaves boarded ships that would take them on the treacherous journey across the Atlantic ocean.
There is never a dull moment in Ghana all year round. These are some of Ghana’s popular destinations where people can relax and have a good time.
The Chale Wote Street Art Festival is a platform that brings art, music, dance and performance out into the streets of Jamestown – a neighbourhood decorated with colonial buildings and corrugated iron shacks. The festival targets exchanges between scores of local and international artists and patrons by creating and appreciating art together. Since 2011, Chale Wote has included street painting, graffiti murals, photography, theater, spoken word, interactive art installations, live street performances, extreme sports, film shows, a fashion parade, a music block party, recyclable design workshops and a lot more. It brings together thousands of people to Ghana’s capital for an electrifying week of festivities to showcase the rich culture and honour the country’s great history. The festival typically takes place in August every year.
William Edward Burghardt DuBois was an African-American civil rights activist who became a citizen of Ghana in the 1960s. He was known as the ‘Father of Pan-Africanism’. The centre, where he and his wife once lived, became the final resting place of the American-born crusader for social justice. The centre houses his personal library and a small museum with a handful of personal effects such as his graduation robes.
The couple’s mausoleum is surrounded by Asante stools, a seminar room, a restaurant, a gallery, an amphitheatre and a research centre for Pan-African history and culture. The Centre remains a lovely memorial to Dr. DuBois, his collection of relevant works and its awakening influence and interest aroused in the community, Africa, the diaspora and the world at large.
Lou Moon Lodge is an exceptionally beautiful and unique beach resort in Axim, one hour from Takoradi in the Western region of Ghana. It is built entirely from local materials, with every detail carefully designed to be in harmony with the environment.
Lou Moon Lodge celebrates the extraordinary natural beauty that surrounds it with its large and carefully manicured park. The lodge is nestled on the shore of a private beach cove offering rare protection from the ocean waves, and creating an idyllic natural swimming pool, safe for all ages to swim in.
The Lodge is wrapped by a peninsula and dense forest, creating a beautiful setting and a rare backdrop of nature at its best. Lou Moon is the ultimate get away for tranquillity, natural beauty and exclusive boutique comfort.
Buka Restaurant is a delight-some African restaurant tucked away in Osu – a neighborhood in central Accra known for its busy commercial, restaurant and nightlife activity.
Buka serves a variety of fusion dishes from Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Nigeria and Senegal. Diners can relax on the outdoor terrace and watch their choice of meats and fish being grilled in the open-air, or decide to shelter from the heat in their air-conditioned indoor restaurant whilst enjoying fresh coconut milk.
Buka is decorated in neutral colors, with furnishings made from woven bamboo, giving it a truly authentic feel. Try the fresh fish soup, jollof rice, grilled guinea fowl and fried plantain for a scrumptious feast to share between two or three people. If you are looking to have a taste of fine local food in Ghana, then you should by all means visit the Buka restaurant.
PUTTING DOWN ROOTS
If you are a returnee who is interested in putting down some roots in Ghana or establishing a connection to the motherland, you may be looking for investments opportunities that are long term and rewarding. Real estate investments is a good bet for someone who wants a life long relationship with Ghana.
It is a great way to grow personal wealth and one of the safest investments anyone can ever make. One can invest in real estate by buying a property, renting it out and becoming a landlord. One advantage of investing in property is that you have full control over your investment unlike other forms of investments such as stocks and bonds.
Real estate in Ghana is a booming business that promises a good return when one commits long-term since the value of property increases over time. Land prices in Ghana have soared up because of its high demand by foreigners and expatriates seeking stellar investments in Ghana.
Ghana has more cultural tolerance than some other African countries, making more immigrants flood the country. As a result, more retail and commercial properties are moving into the country.
Ghana has a history of national economic planning but housing has never really being a major factor to be considered. It is now recognized that the housing sector is a key driver of economic growth, thus, a National Housing Policy is under preparation in that regard.
Investing in real estate in Ghana is a sure way to key into Ghana’s fast growing economy.