President Nana Addo of Ghana coined 2019 as the ‘Year of Return’ for Africans living in the diaspora. This statement was solidified when many members of the diaspora Joined German born American actor Boris Kodjoe who is of Ghanaian descent for his Full Circle Festival that took place during this past festive season of 2018. African American celebrities rang in the New Year in the motherland; getting a chance to see Africa from a lens not set up by western ideals. They were able to see what Africa really is and what is has to offer giving them a sense of pride knowing that they are descended from a place with a rich history of culture and people.
Many of the notions presented around Africa in the west are surrounded with war and poverty and political unrest, and even though these are areas that need improvement, the positive things taking place on the continent are often over looked. Those who attended the festival did not have a firsthand experience of the above mentioned ills, which is why some of them were shocked upon arrival because it was totally contrary to what they have been hearing about Africa for so long.
One individual in particular who was in awe of the beauty of Ghana was rapper Diggy Simmonds, who is the son of one of Hip Hop’s most iconic figures, Run from Run DMC. The many pictures he posted to his social media portrayed his love for his home that he visited for the first time. He stated that the ideas he had about Africa made him reluctant to visit, as they were influence by what he saw in the media. He posted a photo of himself on his Instagram in traditional Kente garments with a very inspiring caption expressing a great sense of pride as he was able to see a different portrayal of Africa, giving him a better sense of self as he got a first-hand look at where and what he is descended from. It will be stories like these expressed by those who visit the continent and boast of is beauty that will help to influence other Africans abroad to want to come and experience it for themselves.
Viola Labi who is a Canadian woman of Ghanaian descent returned home to establish her clothing company ‘Woven’ with the intention of bringing attention to Ghana’s fashion industry through the use of traditional garments. Her years of working with luxury retail brands in Canada have given her the experience she needs to build something reputable in Ghana, and with President Addo opening the doors for those in the diaspora to come home, she is taking advantage of it. Her aim is to create high-quality and innovative products in Ghana to dispel the belief that African products are not up to par with European products. She learned that a European fashion tech brand uses re-engineered fibers like orange peels to create luxury textiles. Ghana is a place rich in produce, so if it can be done in Europe, it can be done there too. Even The name Woven she chose to name her company after expresses this new feeling of unity being felt in Ghana as the word means to unite in a cohesive whole. The invitation to Africans to come home and interact with the people of their homeland allows Africans on a global scale to have a sense of togetherness, defeating the ideas that Africans home, and Africans abroad do not accept one another, but instead see themselves as one and the same.
This past Full Circle Festival has many individuals in the diaspora looking at Africa in a much different light, and with narratives created by individuals such as Diggy Simmonds, and success stories such as that of Viola Labi it is likely that President Addo’s mantra as ‘The year of Return’ will be fully supported as others in the diaspora will make a trip back home to gain their own experience of what is really going on in Africa.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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