December is now the month of return for the diaspora.
You may be wondering why many of your social media friends end up in Ghana in December and into the new year. Since 2019, thousands of Africans from the diaspora retreat to the country after President Nana Akufo-Addo officially announced and launched the "Year of Return" campaign in late 2018, in hope of encouraging people of African descent to reconnect and unite on the very soil many of our ancestors were taken from hundreds of years ago.
The annual occurrence has now turned into what many would consider a bucket list experience. There are dozens of concerts, people party and celebrate into the early morning hours, and now, Black American celebrities are getting in on the action by hosting their own events in Accra during that time.
From the outside looking in, it may seem as though people are only flocking to Ghana in December to be a part of a trendy social opportunity. But, what many may fail to see is the reconnection with ancestral land that is happening—especially for Black Americans.
"Ghana is a place that gives us the opportunity to recharge and realign ourselves before heading back into the new year," Dr. Alexander Oladele says. "I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to Ghana four times and each time I visit, I always come back with a deeper sense of connection with members of the local community and the Black diaspora at large. It’s a trip I highly recommend everyone takes."
For Shandorf Yirenkyi Jr. making the trip to the West African country brings a sense of peace as soon as he steps off of the plane.
"Ghana is such a settling setting. I feel an immediate sense of peace and warmth when exiting Kotoka Airport, so much so that I only book one-way flights when coming to Accra. Yes, there’s the nonstop turn up, but there’s so much more to the Ghana in December experience. From watching the sunrise on Labadi beach on New Year’s with a beach full of people and experiencing Makola Market where a shop worker may randomly break into a happy dance because there’s Afrobeats playing, to leaving the busyness of Accra in exchange for a road trip to Aburi or the Volta Region," Yirkenyi Jr. says.
"All of us from the diaspora all come together as one and willingly choose to spend our December/January holiday time in a culture-rich country. That holiday time is usually spent with our families, and instead we get to reunite with our distant relatives from all over the world as a family collective," Yireknkyi Jr. adds. "I am an American born U.S. citizen and growing up my Ghanaian parents would always promise me they’d take me to Ghana to visit. Ultimately, that broken promise never happened. Maybe that was a good thing because I then took it upon myself as a grown adult in 2018 to seek out my roots on my own. Being of Ghanaian descent, I grew up knowing how awesome Ghana has always been, but the personal joy it brings me to see my friends who’ve visited recently love Ghana in the same way I do is priceless."
EBONY recently spoke to rapper Vic Mensa about his ties to the country. While his father is Ghanaian, and Mensa has visited the country several times as a child, he now better understands his need—and duty—to reconnect with his family's homeland while also exposing others to its beauty.
"I now understand what a privilege it is to be able to keep my connection to my ancestry and culture. It’s an immense honor to know my history, the language of my people and so much more," he said. “Black Americans have become detached from the Mother Continent, not just physically but also mentally, as shown throughout history. But, it’s time to accept who we are as African people.”
The Chicago entertainer—along with Chance the Rapper—will host the Black Star Line Music Fest January 6, 2023, in the country’s historic Black Star Square. Mensa says it's his contribution to further reunite Africans on the continent with those of us in the US. He shared he will also use the opportunity to expose more Black American entertainers to Ghana in hopes that they, too, will want to continually reconnect with the Mother Continent.