The 19th August 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves in America. The residing president of Ghana has since marked this the year of the return, encouraging descendants from their ancestors to “come home”. Late last year, Boris Kudjoe and his friends came to Ghana to celebrate the full circle festival and I believe that an event will be held this year over the Christmas period with a host of American celebrities celebrating in the country which many of their ancestors once called home. In the meantime, we have had the likes of Steve Harvey, Danny Glover and Samuel L Jackson passing through Ghana.
Now before I go on, I want to say I am not hating on anyone. I have always felt that Ghana had for a long time under utilised the tourist industry so I am glad that many of my African American and Caribbean cousins are not only visiting Ghana and countries in Africa but they are also shining our shores in a positive light. I am also glad that the tourist industry is finally booming and this source of revenue is finally coming into the country. I am extremely glad now when I listen to Black American’s talk about Africa, they no longer see it as one big country and appreciate that there are countries such as Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana. It is also good to see that they are looking into their African ancestry to pin point exactly which country they come from. In addition, I had seen a divide between “Africans” in America and “African Americans”, the gap seems to be closing much like black people in UK.
My issue is that firstly, our current President is becoming another “Celebrity-in-Chief”, he appears to me to be so fixated on the USD revenue flow that it may be to the detriment of the people who are hustling to keep themselves afloat, already, the cost of living in Ghana is I believe the highest in Africa with wages not matching the cost. Yes it is great that there is a KFC in Ghana, but lets face it KFC is for the affluent unlike here in the UK where you can get a decent meal with your change.
My fear is that with this new wave of tourism, the price of goods will sky-rocket (because that’s what we do), if the money was going into the hands of the people, I wouldn’t even mind, but only a small percentage of the population would benefit and it is not usually Paa Kwesi who is bagging your grocery’s at the supermarket.
Ghana has extended her hand to our cousins in the Caribbean granting them visa free access to the country. That is wonderful, for those of us wanting to renew our Ghanaian passports, could they consider dropping the price of the passport renewal. We are paying double the price here for the privilege of holding our black books as it is for the (pre-Brexit) burgundy ones. Look after us small Mr President, that’s all I am asking.
My final issue is those of us in the Diaspora wanting to come back to Ghana. We may not have the fat wallets to invest in a factory, but we have skills that we can contribute to the growth of the country. I believe that I have said this more than once. Yes the year of the return is not for the likes of me that knows where I am from, but we are here and we want to contribute in our own little way.
As I said, I believe the year of the return is a brilliant initiative but there is still so much more that can be done and I pray that this initiative doesn’t just benefit the fat cats at the top but for us all.
For those of you who will be celebrating Christmas in Ghana, enjoy, it looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun.