By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]

Four centuries ago Africans were taken from the Ghanaian coast and shipped to the Americas, and now 400 years later the country is calling her descendants back home.

At a luncheon on Sept. 28, American and Ghanaian dignitaries, Pan African advocates, spiritual leaders and the President of Ghana His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, launched The Year of Return Ghana 2019.

His Excellency Nana Addo Dankway Akufo-Addo, president of the Republic of Ghana, addressing the audience at the Year of Return Launch Program, Sept. 28, at the National Press Club in Northwest, Washington, D.C.

The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) under the Auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture along with the Office of Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the President, the PANAFEST Foundation and the Adinkra Group of USA hosted the program at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The goal is to get African Americans to return to Ghana and have a transformative experience of connecting with the continent from which they were taken 400 years ago.

President and CEO of the Adinkra Group, Diallo Sumbry explained that the collaboration with Ghana should “have an impact at least nine generations deep,” and if not, “then we’re making a serious misstep right now,” Sumbry said.  “We have an opportunity.  It takes work, it takes commitment and it takes sacrifice.”

The President of Ghana dedicated “the ceremony to the memory of the prodigal son,” because he was lost and found.  As the leader of Ghana, the President welcomed the lost children of Africa and people of any descent seeking to learn more about the country’s rich history.  He also said he would try to ensure that the acquisition of visas becomes easier.

The President and other dignitaries, like Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin) and Rep. Sheila Jackson- Lee (D- Texas), mentioned the importance of welcoming people of all races to see the important sites in Ghana.

“I will imagine, that when the return starts, there will not [only] be people who look like me, and in this nation I hope that America will rise to the point where we glorify in each other’s history,” Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) told the crowd.  The Texas congresswoman rushed to the National Press Club after having been in a Senate Judiciary committee listening to critical testimonies and debates and voting on the decision to do an FBI investigation into Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual harassment allegations.

As someone who studied abroad in Ghana, Jackson-Lee said that those who have the opportunity to return there are bound to have a transformational experience.

“Those who have never been- that if they go- there’ll be a certain coming of age, that will be grander than we’ve ever imagined,” she said.

The congresswoman said the invitation from Ghana to return for a historic and transformational experience makes for a strong union.

“The continent which I honor and Ghana with its amazing history, will be in the forefront of galvanizing and cementing this wonderful relationship between the nation of the United States of America, the people of the United States of America and the great Republican nation of Ghana with this wonderful President and First Lady, who [are] leading us into the 21st and 22nd century.”

Events surrounding The Year of 2019 include the “Bra Fie” Concert hosted by Damien Marley, son of celebrated reggae artist Bob Marley, in January, a Homecoming and Investment Summit in June; Panafest and Emancipation in July, Ghana Carnival in November and Afrochella in December.

In partnership with the Adinkra Group, artists such as The Crossrhodes with Raheem DeVaughn and Wes Felton, the band Black Alley and Farafina Kan will be returning to Accra, Ghana, Feb. 25- March 8, where they’ll perform. Through the Adinkra Group, legendary go-go band Backyard, also returned to Ghana and performed.  As part of Friday’s luncheon program, guests had the opportunity to view the trailer for a film documenting Backyard’s trip to Ghana called “Back2Africa.”

The many celebrations and performances is a means of celebrating “the resilience of the African spirit,” the Minister of Tourism the Honorable Cather Afeku said.

Diallo Sumbry is the U.S. Coordinator for the Year of Return and can be reached at [email protected] and (240) 389-4044.