This year has been declared the “Year of Return” marking the 400th Anniversary of the first ship carrying enslaved West Africans to Jamestown, Virginia.
The year of return is an important opportunity to celebrate the resilience of black people on both sides of the Atlantic. Hence the call for people to come to their ancestral homes in the Year of Return.
In remembrance of the event which has been described as humanities greatest injustice against black people, Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo has declared 2019 as the “Year of Return” for people of African descent in the Diaspora
The aim of this initiative is to bridge the relationship gap between Africans and their brothers and sisters living in the Diaspora as well as helping them retrace their roots. So far, as we mark the year of return, some world acclaimed Hollywood celebrities have visited Africa, specifically Ghana to trace their ancestral roots.
Below are world known celebrities who have been to Ghana so far as part of the Year of Return.
Samuel Leroy Jackson in Ghana
World-acclaimed American film actor Samuel Leroy Jackson, popularly known as Samuel L. Jackson visited Ghana and Gabon in August 2019 – where he believes his own ancestors came from to trace his root and also shoot a documentary on slavery.
The “Kingsman: The Secret Service” star actor, who has been visiting West Africa filming a documentary on slavery, was first spotted at the +233 Jazz Bar giving a speech.
Titled “Enslaved”, the upcoming documentary has since taken him to Gabon, where the actor has traced his own ancestry.
The series, created by documentary outfit Associated, will chart the horror of slavery through underwater archaeology.
Producers are commencing on the production at a time that Ghana is celebrating the Year of Return.
Journalist Simcha Jacobovici (The Naked Archaeologist) is in charge of the series which will retrace the harrowing sea voyage that brought millions of Africans, including Ghanaians, over hundreds of years, to a life of slavery.
The documentary and its host Jackson, who is a licensed diver, will go in search of the sunken slave ships that went down with their human cargo.
The 70-year-old actor is a recipient of critical acclaim and numerous accolades and awards.
Danny Glover in Ghana
American actor Danny Glover has also touched down in Ghana as part of the Year of Return.
The film director and political activist who arrived in Ghana on Tuesday, 20 August 2019, was received at the Kotoka International Airport by a dance ensemble who treated the entourage to some traditional Ghanaian music and dance.
Accompanied by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Mr Glover and his entourage embarked on the trip as part of the ‘Jamestown to Jamestown’ event to commemorate Ghana’s Year of Return to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia.
Mr Glover told journalist upon his arrival that: “Ghana is great. We think about Ghana and the great kingdoms, the Ashanti Kingdoms…[Ghana] is an area of an extraordinary moment in human history, not just the history of the last 300, 400 years but human history”.
The 73-year-old actor urged the authorities to evaluate “what we [can] do in elevating Ghana’s story [and] its presence in the 21st century and its citizens in the 21st century as a strong component of change, of development [and] of growth”.
As part of the trip, Mr Glover and his team are expected to visit Jamestown in Accra, as well as Cape Coast and Elmina castles in the Central Region, where slaves were kept before their departure from the shores of the country during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
The Year of Return: Steve Harvey in Ghana
American comedian and television host, Steve Harvey, has joined the array of African American diasporan who have visited Ghana learn more about their roots to slavery.
The comedian arrived with his family and visited the various tourist sites including the castles where slaves were kept to learn more about Ghanaian music and also about the African roots.
Steve Harvey, has recounted the “real pain I felt going back to Ghana’s slave castles”.
Harvey visited the Elmina Castle in Ghana’s Central Region on Saturday, 17 August 2019.
The producer and radio personality visited the historical relic built by the Portuguese in 1482, as part of a tour of Ghana in commemoration of the Year of Return to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia.
The overwhelmed comedian, who was taken to the dungeons that held the slaves before departure from the shores of Ghana in the then-Gold Coast, was later seen sitting on a stone with his head bowed down in grief.
He later took to Instagram and stated that he “could feel my ancestors on me”.
“Powerful beyond words that I can explain. I encourage as many of you as possible to go home for your ancestors. Their strength is in each of us and we must honour their ultimate sacrifice in all that we do”.
Meanwhile, very notable diasporans of Ghanaian descent such as WWE Champion Kofi Kingston, Idris Elba and Boris Codjoe have visited the country.
Also, African-American actor Michael Jai White, musician Jidenna, and actress Rosario Dawson have all visited Ghana.