Year of the Return was a successful tourism initiative designed by Ghana to encourage African Americans and others within the African diaspora to visit the country marking the 400th anniversary of the first documented arrival of slaves from West Africa to America as a hub of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The campaign sparked dialogue around African Americans embracing their lost roots but also if they should consider relocating to the continent to seek more opportunities in addition to escaping the systemic racism they face in the United States. Amid the recent protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others in the news, a Ghanian politician recently extended a hand of welcome to those who want to leave U.S. behind.
Last week, a ceremony honoring the death of George Floyd was held at the W.E.B Du Bois Memorial Centre for Pan-African Culture in the city of Accra. Barbara Oteng Gyasi, a local politician and member of Parliament, spoke out after the racism in the United States to offer solidarity with African Americans abroad, offering them refuge in Ghana.
“We gather in solidarity with brothers and sisters to change the status quo. Racism must end. We pray and hope that George Floyd’s death will not be in vain but will bring an end to prejudice and racial discrimination across the world,” Oteng Gyasi said, according to Newsweek. “We continue to open our arms and invite all our brothers and sisters home. Ghana is your home. Africa is your home. We have our arms wide open ready to welcome you home…Please take advantage, come home, build a life in Ghana. You do not have to stay where you are not wanted forever, you have a choice and Africa is waiting for you.”
Since the success of the tourism initiative, the government had planned to continue to build on it with a new program “Beyond the Return” which aims to encourage investment in Ghana, specifically targeting African Americans.
“We feel that given the wealth that African Americans and black Americans have, given that spending power, travel budgets of blacks in America,” Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority. “We felt that it’s about time that we start that conversation that, instead of moving to any other destination, come back to where you came from.”