Is this the independence Nkrumah dreamed of?

Our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa, said Nkrumah on Ghana’s Independence Day.

He also said: “As I said in the assembly just minutes ago, I made a point that we are going to create our own African personality and identity. It’s the only way that we can show the world that we are ready for our own battles.”

What is the African identity and personality today if not the glorification of division and self-hate against each other. We are so divided that the dream of African unity is moving farther from us. The attempt to erase the border lines failed, the African passport became useless, even regional groups are powerless and we spend time to meet as a “union” to drink tea over a dream of a united continent our leaders don’t even believe in.

Nkrumah didn’t say it will come easy. “I made it quite clear that from now on – today – we must change our attitudes, our minds, we must realise that from now on, we are no more a colonial but a free and independent people. But also, as I pointed out, that also entails hard work.”

The African youth can make a change and help regain the lost African identity. The West cannot tell our story but ourselves. This is the time for a new Africa, the Africa Nkrumah dreamed of and it starts with you and me.

We are the only ones who can define our destiny.

Happy 64th Independence Day Ghana!

Happy birthday Osayefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

Happy birthday to the Man of the Millennium Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The man who gave Ghanaians and Africans hope of a better country, continent and race. He put hope into action and realized some of the dreams yet envisioned by his peers. His dream lives on and his actions continue to speak louder even in our political dispensation. His “ghost” continues to fight his opponents who can’t move on after years of defeat and opportunity to change the narrative. Indeed, Nkrumah never dies! ✊🏿✊🏿✊🏿

Africa’s largest ancestry DNA reveal takes place in Ghana as 250 Americans retrace a 400-year slave route

Jamestown to Jamestown participants at the Jubilee House, Ghana’s seat of government — Photo: The Adinkra Group

As dozens of African Americans gather at the Chesapeake Bay in Hampton, Virginia, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship of enslaved Africans to English North America in 1619, some 250 African Americans also gathered across the Atlantic Ocean in Ghana where the first ship left Africa.

At an emotional ceremony at the Cape Coast Castle, one of about forty slave castles built in the Gold Coast (Ghana), over 70 families discovered their ancestry during the African Ancestry DNA reveal which is arguably the largest ever in the continent.

AfricanAncestry.com used its most comprehensive database of indigenous African genetic sequences in existence to trace their ancestry back to specific present-day African countries and ethnic groups of origin dating back more than 500 years ago – the only company that can do that.

“We intentionally planned for it to happen at the same time history tells us the ships arrived in the US. To touch the water on both sides of the globe where the ships landed and from where they left 400+ years ago helps to sustain the paradigm shift we feel of Africans throughout the diaspora longing to return at the tectonic plate level under the ocean floor through our bodies on earth up through and above the clouds with thunder and lightning,” says Diallo Sumbry, President and CEO of The Adinkra Group, curators of the historic Jamestown to Jamestown trip to Ghana in partnership with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Diallo Sumbry speaking at the African American Business Summit — Photo: Akosua Tyus Ali

He told Face2Face Africa in an interview that: “The return is spiritual in nature but manifests itself physically as it requires our bodies to physically return in order to envoke all our senses. Our spirits have been longing to return for a while,” adds Diallo Sumbry who is also Ghana’s first African-American Tourism Ambassador.

The historic Jamestown to Jamestown trip, co-facilitated by Sunseekers Tours and the Ghana Tourism Authority, enabled 250 people including actor, Danny Glover, to go on the tour from Jamestown, Virginia, to Jamestown, Accra, to trace their ancestry.

Danny Glover at a durbar in Accra

It started with a prayer vigil and candle lighting ceremony on August 18 in Jamestown, Virginia, where the English ship, White Lion, “brought not anything but 20 and odd Negroes” as noted by John Rolfe, the plantation owner and official overseeing the colony, the 250 African Americans visited the Smithsonian Museum of African American history before moving to Ghana aboard a South African Airways flight.

They were welcomed with a royal durbar in Ghana which was joined by Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the chiefs and people of Jamestown, Accra. It was followed by a two-day African American Business Summit and a black-tie gala.

After the African Ancestry DNA reveal in Cape Coast, the participants visited the Assin Manso Ancestral Slave River Park aka the “Last Bath” and they performed a similar ceremony as in Jamestown, Virginia, where they captured water from the James River and wrote a message to their ancestors in a notecard and placed in a bonfire.

“Most participants felt the range of emotions that many feel when they visit. Anger, sadness, confusion, anger, frustration, humility, gratitude, anger and a sense of relief when you understand how much resilience this requires and distance from which we’ve come,” Sumbry explains to Face2Face Africa.

“There was a family which was from the Akan people of Ghana. A grandmother, mother and two daughters. Three generations found out their maternal lineage came from Ghana,” he adds.

The participants visited other sites and events in the country including the Akwasidae festival in Ejisu, the Kumasi craft villages in Ahiwaa, Ntonso Craft Village, Bonwire Kente Weaving Village, Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, W.E.B. DuBois Centre in Accra and Arts Center among many other places.

“Jamestown to Jamestown was designed to be a tremendous success and a cornerstone of the Year of Return which I believe we’ve accomplished with the partnership of African Ancestry. More importantly, the impact after the partnership with the NAACP is what makes this journey and mission historic,” says Diallo Sumbry.

Before their departure on August 28, the African Americans are expected to keep a lasting memory of the journey in their hearts and maintain their connection with the continent where their ancestors called home.

Jamestown to Jamestown participants at the Jubilee House, Ghana’s seat of government — Photo: The Adinkra Group

“This is just the beginning. The Year of Return still has a long calendar of events but we have already begun the planning for Jamestown to Jamestown next year to make it twice as big, better and impactful,” Diallo Sumbry hinted in anticipation of many more visits by the Diaspora.

Meanwhile, in Hampton, Virginia, a bell-ringing event was observed, ringing simultaneously for four minutes, one for each century. Also, in the same spot where the first 20 captured Africans arrived in the U.S., people whispered prayers to them and to the ancestors who did not survive the voyage. They sent those thoughts floating with flower petals in the Chesapeake Bay, reports CNN.

This article was first published by Ismail Akwei on face2faceafrica.com

America was truly founded in 1619 when African slaves first landed in Virginia – NYT

Historical Marker — Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer

In commemorating 400 years since over 20 enslaved Africans first landed near Point Comfort in the British Colony of Virginia in August 1619, the New York Times has launched The 1619 Project to highlight slavery and the contributions of black people in America’s founding.

“It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are,” says the NYT.

The project spotlights a collection of essays, criticism and art about how the America we know today didn’t start in 1776 — it started in August 1619, when a ship carrying enslaved Africans landed in Virginia, it added.

A dedicated page displaying captivating photographs of black struggles and compelling phrases and headlines linked to quotes, poems and essays of black Americans published on the portal takes readers through thought-provoking topics and memories.

Some of the essays touched on how black Americans made the country a democracy; the brutal nature of American capitalism linked to the plantation; race being the reason America doesn’t have universal health care; black music being the sound of freedom and the barbaric history of sugar among other subjects.

The United States of America officially observes July 4 as independence day in commemoration of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, when the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies at the time were no longer subjects of the British monarchy and were now united, free, and independent states. It actually occurred on July 2 but the declaration was delayed for two more days.

However, slavery was abolished by the 13th amendment which was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865. This means when independence was declared, the majority of black people in the U.S. were not free. They worked to build the country which rarely acknowledges their contribution. Hence, many African Americans do not celebrate independence day.

In Africa, Ghana is the only country that has tried on multiple occasions to return black Americans back to the home of their forebears. However, the multiple attempts in the past decades to settle African Americans in Africa failed due to an unwelcoming environment contrary to the promised land.

The West African country is giving it another shot in 2019 with The Year of Return programme which has already seen hundreds of African Americans visit Ghana to experience the history, culture and tradition upfront.

As part of the yearlong celebrations, the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has conferred citizenship on 200 members of the African-American-Caribbean Diaspora group currently settled in the West African nation.

This comes years after the country passed the “Right of Abode” law which allows any person of African descent to apply and be granted the right to stay in Ghana indefinitely.

This was followed by the launch of the Diaspora Affairs Bureau under the foreign affairs ministry in 2014 to manage the migration and engage the diaspora to provide a sustainable link with various government agencies to achieve development and investment goals.

As at 2014, over 3,000 African-Americans and people of Caribbean descent are estimated to be living in Ghana. The Diaspora Affairs Bureau has expedited the acquisition of the permanent residency which was earlier delayed by bureaucratic processes. It took some applicants years to get their official documentation when it was supposed to take six months.

Many resorted to renewable resident permits and marriages with Ghanaians to stay and work fruitfully in the country. Rita Marley, the wife of reggae legend Bob Marley, was the first person to be granted the indefinite stay in Ghana in 2014, 14 years after the law was passed.

In 2016 alone, 34 Afro-Caribbeans were granted Ghanaian citizenship to enjoy full benefits as Ghanaians. Those who have stayed on appreciate the warmth and peacefulness of the country despite the few cultural setbacks like being regarded as more American and Caribbean than African despite years of living in the country.

Former Ghanaian President John Mahama with some Afro-Caribbean people who were granted citizenship in December 2016

Ghana was home to pan-Africanists like George Padmore, Maya Angelou, W. E. B. Du Bois, Pauli Murray among others who emigrated after the country’s independence in 1957 after establishing a friendship with the first president Kwame Nkrumah who himself had studied in the United States.

This article was first published by Ismail Akwei on face2faceafrica.com

Africa has finally realized the 1960s dream of integration after launch of single market

Leaders of 54 African states that signed the AfCFTA into operation in Niger.

July 7 of every year will now be celebrated as the Day of African Integration by the African Union to commemorate the operational launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, the world’s single largest free trade market.

AU leadership unveiling the commemorative plaque marking the Extraordinary Summit on the AfCFTA in Niamey, Niger

It was put into force on July 7, 2019, at the African Union (AU) Extraordinary Summit on the AfCFTA in Niamey, Niger, by 54 member states except for Eritrea which is still hesitant. Nigeria and Benin decided to sign the agreement at the last minute after stalling for months due to concerns raised by local businesses.

This milestone has been lingering since the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 which had African independence leaders divided on how Africa should unite.

Ghana’s first president Dr Kwame Nkrumah led the Casablanca Bloc formed after the second All-African People’s Conference in Addis Ababa in 1961 to push for a federation of all African states to be called the United States of Africa. They included the leaders of Algeria, Guinea, Morocco, Mali and Libya.

The United States of Africa concept was opposed by some leaders of other independent African states including Senegal’s Léopold Sédar Senghor and the leaders of Nigeria, Liberia and Ethiopia. They were referred to as the Monrovia Bloc and wanted unity to be achieved gradually while Africa remains a continent of independent states.

Leaders of the 32 independent African states divided between the two blocs honoured the invitation of Haile Selassie in 1963 for the meeting that was a deciding factor for Africa’s unity.

The Casablanca Bloc stood by Nkrumah’s philosophy that “Africa must unite now”, as Egypt’s Nasser, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria and Sekou Toure of Guinea denounced “impe­rialists” and “colonial exploit­ers” at every opportunity.

The Monrovia Bloc thwarted the possibility of an immediate union with the argument that no matter how good it sounds, unity won’t work unless economic cooperation is achieved.

The host, Haile Selassie, added his voice saying the leaders must move step‐by‐step toward unity as “tradition cannot be abandoned at once” and the disagreement to a union by the people could frustrate progress toward coopera­tion and development.

A 1964 New York Times report stated that: “Africans would disagree on im­mediate union because they fear Nkrumah’s driving ego­centricity might lead to his becoming the first, and per­haps permanent, ‘president’ of a United States of Africa.”

The Emperor’s astute voice successfully gained the signatures of all the 32 independent African states on the charter that established the Organisation of African Unity on May 25, 1963.

OAU Founders, Photo: Medium

44 years after the attempt to create a Union Government during the founding of the OAU, the opportunity came up once again at the 9th Ordinary Session of the newly formed African Union (AU) in Accra, Ghana.

The agenda was to debate the creation of the Union Government that will lead to the formation of the United States of Africa as adopted by a 2006 study. The study proposed a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans.

Those in support of the Union Government included Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.

The heated debate in Accra failed to institute the Union Government but the heads of state agreed to accelerate political and economic integration, strengthen the organs and institutions of the AU and then set a timeframe to establish a Union Government with the involvement of Africans and the diaspora.

Since then, teams have been set up in 2007, 2008 and 2009 to review the recommendations and give the green light for the transformation of the African Union Commission into the African Union Authority to pave way for the Union Government which will be led by a president, vice president and secretaries.

All the teams have since deferred their assignments and the dream of a United States of Africa still lingers but that of economic integration has been realized with the historic African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

Egyptian President and AU chairman Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the AU summit in Niger

“The eyes of the world are turned to Africa. AfCFTA will reinforce our negotiating position on the international stage. It will represent an important step,” said Egyptian President and AU chairman Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the African Union (AU) Extraordinary Summit on the AfCFTA in Niamey, Niger.

The AfCFTA will create a single continental market for goods and services; enhance free movement of business persons and investments; enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploiting opportunities for full-scale production.

It will also enforce the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union, expedite the regional and continental integration processes and exploit opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources.

With the commitment of all countries, the AfCFTA could bring together the 1.2 billion African population with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2.5 trillion to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods, with 10 per cent of “sensitive items” to be phased in later.

This agreement was first introduced in January 2012 during the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The member states adopted the decision to establish the Continental Free Trade Area by 2017.

The free-trade zone should be operational from July 2020, AU trade and industry commissioner Albert Muchanga told the AFP. Ghana has been chosen as the Secretariat for the AfCFTA.

This article was first published by Ismail Akwei on face2faceafrica.com