Just one week ago, hundreds of African American travelers descended on Kotoka International Airport to begin their Year of Return, both anxious and excited about what – for many – would be their first time in Africa.
Nothing could have prepared the experience that would soon bond them for life. From Accra to Cape Coast to Kumasi, the group went through a transformative journey that individually would have been impressive but together was unprecedented and invaluable. Strangers became sisters, fathers became mentors, children became playmates and a generation of the Black diaspora found their home.
“What an amazing, life-changing experience this trip has been! I not only have a renewed sense of identity but a commitment to the betterment of my people. Thank you NAACP and the Adinkra group for making this possible,” said a participant named Christine.
“Thanks to the partnership of NAACP and Airbnb, I have been afforded the opportunity of my life never to be forgotten,” said another traveler, Peggy. “I make a pledge to spread my education and experience and stay a part of this movement. When needed I can be called upon to assist. Thank you so much for this heartfelt and unforgettable journey.”
Peggy and Christine’s comments ring true for other travelers that joined them. This group laughed together, cried together, traveled together, and sometimes even bargained together, but most of all, they found themselves together.
Look back on the trip’s best moments
“It wasn’t until our first day, that we realized that we came on this trip with a purpose — with a goal of understanding our ancestry and to embark on a journey much much greater than ourselves.” – Jamila Ross, @Airbnb host. #JamestownToJamestown @Essence: https://t.co/Ga6OikI8q3 pic.twitter.com/evuSJlVENE
— Derrick Johnson (@DerrickNAACP) August 27, 2019
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In the bowels of the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, there’s a dungeon built beneath the church chapel, where kidnapped and enslaved Africans could hear the devils above worshipping their god, while those below languished in misery until the slave ships arrived. I stood there, in that place, and inhaled deeply, swallowing mouth fulls of last breaths, and I almost choked. I could taste every bead of sweat and pain and blood and loss. I ran my fingers across the jagged walls and could feel their scarred flesh and bowed spines. The ancestors whispered, telling me to wipe my tears. And I did. They told me to walk through the Door of No Return and down the steps to where their feet last stood on African soil, before they boarded ships headed to the hell of the new world, and to take a fist full of soil, to exhale, to lift my face to the sun and to be strong, because they were, and to do what they could not. And I did. I walked back up those steps and through that door. I returned. Later that night the moon sat high above the town, sending streaks of white light running across crashing waves. And we smiled as the cold water lapped over our toes. As the tide chased us up the shore we laughed louder than we had in a long time, loud enough for the ancestors to hear. We were home and we were free. . . #yearofthereturn #1619 #jamestowntojamestown #freedom #capecoast #ghana #theancestors
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