‘Ghana Calls’ but Who Benefits? Year of Return 2019
On 16th October 1995, a massive crowd of mainly Afrikan men in America gathered at the National Mall in Washington DC to lay to bear economic and social issues affecting Afrikans in America as a result of neglect and domestic terror by the system made to benefit white people. This was dubbed as the Million Man March. The crowd present has been estimated to be anywhere around 400,000 to 1.1million people depending on which source you trust. However, for this massive crowd of Afrikans to come together, city buses and trains were overloaded; in fact, businesses around the area mainly white owned laughed all the way to the bank.
Fast forward to 1st May 2017. The US Congress passes a bill to establish a commision which is tasked to plan and facilitate activities to remember 400 years of enslavement of Afrikans. As this bill and conversations around it seems to suggest, enslavement of Afrikans began in 1619. A falsification of consciousness indeed! If we are to be rational and see history as a continuous flow of events recorded, undulated throughout space and not beginning when a curious european found his way to Afrika, then, we come to know about the Zanj Rebellion recorded to take place in 869 ACE. This revolt by enslaved Afrikans from what is now known as East Afrika went on for over a decade in where is now considered South Iraq in the eastern hemisphere. A cause and effect. An enslavement of Afrikans and a revolt, the first to be recorded. Enslavement of Afrikans could not have began 400 years ago.
One may defend the congress of USA saying theirs is a remembrance of the forceful removal of Afrikans from their motherland and taken across the Atlantic to the Americas. To such a gentle reader I plead patience and a much more intentional study of history. Let me briefly mention San Miguel de Guadalupe, the first settler community of europeans in continental America suffered a revolt from Afrikans enslaved in 1526. Also between 1570 and
1609, Gasper Yanga an Afrikan maroon warrior led a series of successful revolt in what is now known as Veracruz, Mexico. These are but just a few examples to point out how ludacris the myth that enslavement of Afrikans began 400 years ago. For souls wanting to believe this european propaganda, I can only wish them well.
At a fanciful suit and tie event in September 2018 at the National Press Club, Washington DC, the president of Ghana Nana Akufo Addo launched the Year of Return 2019 urging Afrikans in the diaspora to come home as visa acquisition were going to be laxed (not removed) and granting repatriates Right of Abode, a legal name for Taxation without Representation. Never
again will Afrikans be enslaved, the president blurted out with a calm demeanor as if Black people enslaved in various parts of North Afrika, from Morocco to Egypt were not Afrikans.
The end of 2018 saw quite a number of Afrikans famed in the Hollywood scene led by Boris Kudjoe who is of Ghanaian descent. Here, the luxurious European owned hotel Kempinski played host to the launch of the festival that intended to bring Afrikans in the Diaspora back to their roots. The curious may ask, what flights did we come here with? Which banks will be profiting of our transactions? Which hotels in Accra hosted our celebs? We could go on but my hope is my point has been made. The danger of the Year of Return 2019 will be our lack of criticalness towards the act and how I see things, this event is another form of economic cooperation between the Governments of Ghana and the USA.
I stand on the shores of Oguaa, now known as Cape Coast. My view presents me with the slave dungeon out of which many of our people upon capture were imprisoned in the most unholiest of circumstances and exported to the Americas. For some reason, it has been giving a white coated paint job, a visual reminder of history being whitenized. It is here, many diasporans come to embrace the gloomy history of our past. Of such encounters however, the Government of Ghana profits massively as one is required to pay a fee before entering. I find it uncanny that the dungeons that truncated the ancestral legacy of many diasporans now sees them pay as much as a european. It is same in many public spaces. For Ghanaians, in the colonial sense of the word, the fee is much lower. It was in hope that the Year of Return will see us address some of these moral imbalances for granting the right of return is to recognise that the Black Diaspora is essentially a part and parcel of the millions of Black Afrikans on the continent. In this recognition, our actions must be as loud, if not louder, as our words.
So long as our coming together economically benefits our oppressors, our shoddy attempts at an undefined ‘return’ would only make our oppressors laugh all the way to the bank. Now if the Year of Return 2019 will be anything to go by, it would be an honest strive to return to ourselves, back to our way, the way. Thus, we will eschew the fanciful dinners in the name of
launches by a few class of Afrikans and commit to doing the serious and tedious task of re-membering ourselves throughout time and space. This also means re-telling our history in its accuracy and not propagating lies of 400 year old myths. Our educational curriculum on both ends of the Atlantic as well as globally will be seriously questioned and restructured. Our return
will be mental, physical, emotional, psychological, economic, spiritual as well as physical. If we do not do the serious and arduous task we should not be surprised once we see coca-cola, kempinski or british airways sponsor a “return” of Afrikans in the Diaspora. This is truth and we can only change it by facing it.
In the auditorium of the National Theatre of Ghana in February, I witnessed a musical dance-drama recently. Araminta! Harriet Tubman Lives… was the beautiful baby of the collaboration between a number of Afrikans on the continent and in the diaspora. The production celebrated the actions of Araminta known famously as Harriet Tubman not only to free herself but other Afrikans as well. These are some of the blessings I see in the Year of Return if the opportunity is utilized. A connection of our consciousness amongst ourselves to build and create. We have been shown the door, it is up to us to walk through it.
To bring to rest my thoughts, let me address briefly would-be-returnees. Care must be taken that in our pursuit of a connection we do not further alienate ourselves. This means we must be critical and thoughtful of our travels. To those who thirst to return but cannot for whatever reason; if the joy of movement feels unattainable this year, let our souls not despair but find
comfort in anticipation as we slowly and steadily ‘gather’ ourselves. For our eventual return will not take a year but will be a lifelong journey.