It's called the "Year of Return," where people of African descent are encouraged to go to Ghana to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans were brought to what became the United States. This week, a delegation from the U.S. civil rights organization National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is in Ghana visiting the sites of their ancestors.
It was a last-minute decision for Morandon Henry to come to Ghana. So far, the NAACP board of directors member has found his visit inspiring, emotional and rewarding.
He is part of the group of almost 300 touring Ghana this week. On Thursday, he and some members visited the former home of W. E. B. Du Bois, the African American civil rights activist, historian and a co-founder of the NAACP who moved to Ghana in his later years. Today, his home is a museum and his final resting place in a leafy suburb of Ghana's capital, Accra.
“It is monumental, because he is one of the founders of our organization. And just to come and see the work him and his wife did when they came to Ghana was monumental for me. It was emotional, but just to see it in person was life-changing for me,” Henry said.
The group has met with the president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, visited significant cultural and historic sites and taken part in business and labor forums. NAACP President Derrick Johnson says the journey is about reconnection.
“It's an opportunity for the NAACP, our member supporters and African Americans to reconnect with Africa to ensure that the African diaspora strengthens over time. But more importantly for us, to understand the journey that brought us to America,” Johnson said.
Judy McKoy who is from the U.S. state of California had traced her ancestry to West Africa and wanted more people to see Ghana, a nation she found to be beautiful. She is behind the push to see Ghana and other African nations as top tourist destinations. Ghana hopes to attract half a million people for the Year of Return.
“This is a beautiful place to come. I would come over and over again, and I hope everyone is getting that message that when you go on vacation, it's not just to Eurocentric countries. Africa is a continent to be reckoned with,” McKoy said.
The Year of Return campaign was launched by President Akufo-Addo in Washington, D.C., in 2018. So far, a number of high-profile visitors have made the trip to Ghana, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who visited last month.