International Event THE YEAR OF RETURN

By Tsadenna G. Assefa, October 01, 2019

It has been 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on the shores of James town, Virginia. When Europeans were shipping off Africans to the Americas and Europe, they had set up 32 slave forts and castles along the shores which had dungeons where they kept their ‘human commodity’, until the ships that would take them across the ocean arrived. When the ships arrived, the slaves that survived the indescribably inhumane treatments would be led through a small door called the ‘door of no return’. Those doors have since been changed to the ‘door of return’, in celebration of the Year of Return that attempts to welcome people of African descent to Ghana.

The Year of Return was launched by President Nana Akufo-Addo at an event in Washington, DC on September 2018. The president said that the year of return will commemorate the sacrifices and existence of the Africans in the diaspora and encouraged resettlement and reunion of the African diaspora with their African brothers and sisters. This was done in an attempt at the realization of the first Ghanaian Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah’s dream of welcoming back Africans from all over the world.

The year-long celebration has already hosted many homecoming events and cultural festivals. These include Wax Print Festival; Jamaican Homecoming Festival and the infamous Chale Wote.

The biennial Pan African Historical Theatre Festival (Panafest), which is held in Cape Coast, also coincided with the Year of Return celebrations and ran from July 24th to August 2nd. Panafest was founded on the grounds that theatre and arts, in general, are powerful tools of communication and healing. And this will aid in creating new expressions, commemorations and platforms for dialogue that will aid the continent in reaching greater heights. But the Year of Return celebrations will continue until the end of the year.

September will see a series of events such as the Nkrumah memorial series which started in 2010 commemorating the deaths and celebrates the achievements of many African activists. It is also a platform where many pan African issues are discussed.

Another event is Taste of Afrika, a musical event that will welcome many African musicians across a dozen or more African countries.

The month of October will host a major share of events by hosting Ghana: Remember the Times Exhibition which will run from 04 October to 06 November focusing on the global reach of Ghanaian culture. There will also be the Youth in Tourism Festival between the 10 and 12 October where youth in the tourism sector will be able to network and share experiences under the slogan ‘My Culture, My Pride’. And there will also be the Global Year of Return Kumasi Festival that will focus on the Ghanaian influence on Caribbean culture, and it will run from 29 October until 02 November.

The celebrations resume and the Ghana Carnival will take over the streets of Accra on 02 November showcasing Ghanaian culture through flamboyant attire, music and dance. The other November event is the Roots Reggae Festival which will celebrate the unity and strength in bridging the diaspora divide.

By far the most anticipated event of the year is the Afrochella Festival. Afrochella which debuted in 2017 will be held in Accra on the 28 December this year, and it will be one of the last events of the Year of Return. The festival which will showcase some great artists from across the continent will also showcase Ghanaian food and urban culture.

The Year of Return was organized by The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) under the Patronages of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture in collaboration with many private and government initiatives. The authority organized this event motivated to make Ghana the hub for millions of Africans in the diaspora that are looking for a safe haven and a sense of belongingness in reaction to their social exclusion based on their race.

The year of return is organized to assert power over African history and attempts to promote the narrative that slavery is a tragic event that changed the trajectory of African history, and African descendants in the diaspora should not be defined by it. It also celebrates the resilience and strength of Africans and encourages the African diaspora to return to the Motherland.

The Year of Return’s events are not limited to the events listed in this article. For more information, visit