By: Nana Aduba-Amoah
2019 highlights the 400th year since the first enslaved Africans set foot on American soil, and the annual Ghana festival in Washington Park this past weekend honored its ancestors through the theme of “Akwaaba: the Year of the Return,” as a public invitation to revisit the cultural traditions of the West African country.
“This particular year marks the 400 years of slavery, so the President of Ghana was actually here in Washington to launch the year of return to Ghana,” President of Ghana National Council of Chicago, Paa Kwasi Sam, said in a recent interview with NBC Chicago.
Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, formally declared 2019 “the Year of the Return,” at an event in Washington DC, as an initiative to encourage slaves of ancestors to emigrate back to Africa, according to an article by AfricaRenewal.
The Ghana Festival, hosted by the Ghana National Council of Chicago, was extended for two days in celebration of this theme for the first time in 18 years. From Saturday, July 27 through Sunday, July 28, festivalgoers scoured throughout the park to enjoy traditional food, cultural activities, and performances from artists such as Samini, Ben Brako, including gospel artists like Minister Bernice Acheampong. The annual festival attracts over 5,000 people every year, according to an article Diaspora Network Television (DNT).
“It was great,” said Priscially Owiredu, who attended the festival on both days and looked forward to reconnecting with her family friends. “The energy was great. I saw family and friends I hadn’t seen in a while. It was a two-day event so it was nice to go to both.”