Kingston 27 January 2019 – The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, says Jamaica endorses the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019”.
The “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” is an initiative of the Government of the Republic of Ghana which is intended to encourage people of African descent to visit Africa.
Speaking at the Caribbean launch of the Year of Return in Kingston on Sunday (today), Minister Grange said:
“Jamaica looks forward to a successful Year of Return and we will work with Ghana towards a successful year. Jamaica observes the International Decade of People of African Descent and so it is all very timely that we work together.
“We are connected. Ghana was a major hub for the transatlantic slave trade from the 16th to the 19th centuries, and we are happy that you have opened the door this year for people in the African Diaspora to return.”
“And as Jamaicans, we’re proud to see that our Reggae music will form the soundtrack for the Year of Return.”
The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture of Ghana, Her Excellency Catherine Afeku said it was important to begin the Year of Return programme for the Caribbean in Jamaica.
Minister Afeku said:
“This is the Maroon country where liberation struggles started even before Independence. So we started here for symbolism. We want to invite you home, but we want to invite you coming back with that sense of strength that you are a descendant that survived.”
Minister Afeku said the Year of Return was an opportunity to highlight the strength of African peoples who survived the transatlantic slave trade.
According to her, “We have scientists who are the descendants of slaves, we have astronauts who are descendants of slaves. We have the Bob Marleys who are the descendants of slaves. We have the Usain Bolts who are the descendants of slaves. That is a positive story.”
The Ghanaian Minister is encouraging Jamaicans to make a pilgrimage to Africa, beginning with her country, even once in their lifetime.
“Ghana is opening its arms. Ghana is opening its doors. We want you to come and take a heritage that belongs to you. So it is not a favour, it is yours. We are here to assure you that you can make a home on the continent starting with Ghana,” said Minister Afeku.
Minister Grange said consideration is being given for direct flights between Jamaica and Ghana in support of the Year of Return initiative.
The year-long celebrations include music and food festivals, summits, investment fora and product exhibitions.