Africa Greek Week is quickly approaching and plans to bring African Americans, Caribbeans and people from the Ghanaian diaspora back to Ghana to celebrate the Year of Return. Many of them are members of the nine historically Black Greek letter organizations, that are known as Fraternities and Sororities. Together they make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council and collectively are referred to as “The Divine Nine.” During a time when segregation was at its peak, black people stuck together through creating a sense of comradery in these fraternities and sororities. They were and continue to provide a strong sense of sisterhood, brotherhood and support for a lifetime once a person becomes a member.
The Divine Nine includes the following with their respective dates they were founded:
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (1906), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (1908), Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity (1911), Omega Psi Phi Fraternity (1911), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (1913), Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity (1914), Zeta Phi Beta Sorority (1920), Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority (1922) and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity (1963). Each is rich in history and continue to have a strong influence on the African American community.
Maurice Cheetham, who is the Founder of African Roots Travel and a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, is one of the lead organisers of the upcoming African Greek Week set to take place 1st-7thJuly 2019 in Ghana as part of Year of Return activities. Kwab Asamoah, of Kustom Looks, is his partner and co-organising the event. Cheetham said, “The Divine Nine was simply started to create a common bond, to have community and a sense of community service. It provides a place for young men and women to thrive.” When asked why he thought it was important to have an African Greek Week event during the year of return, he said, “Our purpose is to bring individuals from the Divine Nine [to Africa] and bring them home to come to Ghana and celebrate the year of return. We want them to see everything that Ghana can offer.” His excitement was evident when he spoke about the value of having people from all walks of life come and see the continent with their own eyes.
Maurice expressed why it’s so important to dispel the many negative stereotypes often reported by mainstream western media about countries like Ghana. He wants to take the opportunity to help create experiences that show the positive aspects of Ghana. To show the visitors what a safe country Ghana really is and how rich it is in culture and tradition.
Africa Greek Week has planned several activities for the people who will be travelling into the country. “We want to provide them with historical and cultural experience,” Cheetham said, “…helping them feel the link to the history of Ghana and its people.” The event participants will have the opportunity to explore some of the popular sites including Independence Square, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park & Mausoleum, Boti Falls, Shai Hills and a tour of the Cape Coast dungeons. “We don’t’ expect it to be a large event because this is our first event like this. We wanted to make sure that we could manage the cultural interaction on an individual level. With too large of a crowd we can’t do that.”
Cheetham stressed how important it was to have their group really be amongst the people. He feels it’s the best way to truly experience the country. “This is going to be the first celebration of bringing people from the Divine Nine all together on African soil,” he said. He explained that they have chapters of the Divine Nine all over the world. They always stay connected and maintain that sense of community no matter where they are. “We have people coming from China and the Caribbean to experience African Greek Week.”
The community service element is perhaps the most important part of the 7-day event. They want to not only bring people from abroad to experience Ghana but to also make an impact in the lives of young people. “If you come here and don’t make some type of impact on Ghanaian youth, then you have not touched Ghana because the youth are the future of the country and we want to combat some of the negative things the media shows.” The Spinal Awareness Golf Tournament will be an opportunity to raise money for a good cause while socializing in a relaxed setting. The final night will also feature the African Wear Soiree at Rehab Beach Club giving everyone an opportunity to have a good time and be dressed in their best African attire.
Africa Greek Week promises to give travellers the best cultural experience while also taking in modern Ghana. Cheetham is excited and looks forward to making this an annual event.