The Year of Return: A Journey Back to Africa


Asiedua Adu-Gyamfi

The Ghanaian skyline.

Asiedua Adu-Gyamfi

Culture is the art of who we are, it’s what defines our way of life, and what makes us so similar but different. Even though culture is what, most of the time, defines us, we sometimes lose track of what it is, and we lose track of an important part of us. Well, what happens when one has lost what defines them? We try to find a new definition and then we completely lose sight of the things that made us different from the rest. In 2019, African Americans were given the opportunity to find what defined them, to find their culture and heritage. This opportunity was called “The Year of Return.” The current President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, announced this big event in 2018 and declared the whole of that year to be The Year Of Return. This title is indeed familiar during the times of slavery when our dear people were put through the doors of no return in the castles of Ghana, and all around Africa. Now, the question that automatically comes up for this event, is why? Well, we already know that it was to help African Americans who have indeed lost their heritage to find it. Another reason was to ensure that after over 400 years, Africa could gain one of the most important things they lost during slavery: their people.

In the August of 2019, the beloved African-American television star, Steve Harvey, filmed his adventure in what he called “My Motherland”. On his emotional journey, he visited one of the most famous slave castles, The Elmina Castle. During his tour of the castle, Harvey broke down in tears, hearing about the pain and trauma his ancestors went through. When he came back to the United States, he shared his experience, and he talked about how hard it was seeing the dungeons that the British people stripped away what defines them, their heritage, and culture. Not only did Steve Harvey share his experience, but there were several celebrities who went on a similar journey, such as Idris Elba. On his trip to Ghana, Elba celebrated and embraced his Sierra Leone and his Ghanian heritage. The famous supermodel, Naomi Campbell, joined this event and visited Ghana, took shots of the beauty of where she calls home. Lastly, I would love to mention, Diggy Simons, the actor. Diggy Simons shared his experience in Ghana as feeling free. He talks about the emotions he went through standing on the grounds his ancestors were shackled in, killed in, and abandoned in. Overall many of these celebrities shared their experience of feeling free, comfortable, and safe.

In conclusion, the year of return has impacted various African Americans in various beneficial ways. For the Year Of Return, Ghana has become one of the top hot spots to travel in Africa. In December and during summertime is when they get the most tourist. The President, Nana Akufo-Addo, wants people to know that every year, every month, and every day is a year of return for everyone. We should feel at home at places our heart belongs, it’s difficult to be in foreign countries and the struggle is real. The good thing is there’s always a chance to go back home. From these lessons, we’ve had various Africans, and African-Americans move to stay in Ghana permanently.