People from across the country arrived for the Durbar of Chiefs during Ghana Tourism Federation’s (GHATOF) Marhaba Festival. It was a colourful display of the culture and heritage of Ghana as each Chief arrived with their entourage. This was a festival unlike any other because it was about bringing together people of Ghana, with those from the diaspora who have travelled to Ghana from around the world. Some have been living here for many years, while others are here because of the call from the president for ‘Year of Return’.
Our team spoke with a young woman from the U.S. named Kya who is here on a visit with her grandmother. Her grandmother has been living in Ghana for more than 10 years and owns property here as well. Kya has really enjoyed her time in Ghana and was even given a local name during the first day of the Marhaba Festival when a naming ceremony took place Prampram on 18th July. She said the first time she came to Ghana she was an 11-year-old and cried tears when she had to leave. She knew at some point she would come back.
At the first day of events in Prampram on the 18th July, people from the diaspora were also taken on a boat and locals stood on the beach pulling a rope tugging them towards the shores. Vanessa, one of the women on board, said she first thought it was a simple re-enactment. Once the welcome ceremony of being on the boat started, she felt the spiritual connection and the symbolism of being brought back to the shores of Africa was significant. “The ceremony was touching and very emotional for me, I’ve been here for 26 years and I haven’t experienced anything like that.” She said that even though she has been in Ghana for so long, it always excites her to see people making the decision to come and visit or live.
Barbara Oteng Gyasi, Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture was in attendance at the event. She delivered a keynote speech “It’s always exciting to see the beautiful display of our culture..” she said, “I would like to thank the leadership of GHATOF for organizing and planning this event which brings together our brothers and sisters of the diaspora and Ghanaians to celebrate our beautiful culture.” She was joined by Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority and Coordinator for Year of Return, Akwasi Ababio, Director of Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President and Chairman of Year of Return Steering Committee.
People from the diaspora where thrilled that such an event took place that gave them a chance to connect and experience Ghana’s rich heritage. Seeing Chiefs from the Northern Region was particularly exciting since we often see the culture of the southern parts of Ghana on display in Accra. They wanted people to know that in the north, they fought against the Europeans who captured people and eventually took them through the slave route.
The final day of events featured a Business to Business Investment Forum where people could get information about doing business in Ghana. It featured speakers and experienced business people in Ghana who offered key strategies and information for investing in the country.