Pastor Mensa Otabil has said although he does not know what motivated the government of Ghana to mark this year as the Year of Return, the theme of ‘return’ really strikes a chord with his spirit.
The “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” declared by President Nana Akufo-Addo, is a major landmark marketing campaign targeting the African-American and diaspora to mark 400 years of the first enslaved African arriving in Jamestown, Virginia.
Speaking at the launch, President Nana Akufo-Addo recalled Ghana’s early pan-African leadership role and pledged that: “Under my leadership, Ghana will continue to ensure that our hard-won pan-African reputation is not lost. Making Ghana the focus of activities to commemorate the landing of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies in North America is, therefore, a huge opportunity to entrench Ghana’s leadership.”
Already, very notable diasporans of Ghanaian descent such as WWE Champion Kofi Kingston, Idris Elba and Boris Codjoe have visited.
Also, African-American actor Michael Jai White visited Ghana early this year.
Additionally, African-American musician Jidenna and actress Rosario Dawson, have also been to Ghana.
A lot of activities have been earmarked for the Year or Return such as the Black History Month with the African-American Association of Ghana, Back2Africa Festival, Ghana Independence Day Celebration, the pan-African Student Summit, JaGha Reggae Festival and Heritage Paragliding Festival in Kwahu.
Others are Black Prophet Homecoming Celebration, PANAFEST, GOD BOX Spiritual Pilgrimage, Chale Wote, Afrochella, among others.
The Ghana Tourism Authority, and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture are working in partnership with the Office of Diaspora Affairs at the Jubilee House, the pan-African Historical Theatre Festival (Panafest) Foundation and The Adinkra Group to steer the year-long Year of Return celebrations.
Speaking about the Year of Return on the first day of the International Central Gospel Church’s Greater Works annual programme on Monday, 29 July 2019, the church’s founder, Pastor Otabil, said: “People in Ghana may not feel it much but African-Americans and Africans in the diaspora are commemorating the 400th year of the first slaves to land in America. The first recorded Africans to land in America were about 20 or so.
“They landed in August 1619 and they started a 400-year process just like the children of Israel.
“I am aware that our government has designated this year as the Year of Return. I’m not so sure what prompted that declaration because sometimes you may not know the intent of that.
“However, the theme of return resonates with my spirit and I believe that this year is the year of return in so many ways; it’s a year for your return, it is a year for my return. Last year, at Greater Works, we gave indications that God is doing something great on our continent of Africa. I believe fully without any shadow of doubt that God has opened a door of return for Africa”, the General Overseer of ICGC said.
Pastor Otabil also said it was high time Africans had a yes-we-can spirit. “We Africans must also say: ‘Yes we can’”.
In Pastor Otabil’s opinion, “We don’t need a favourable President in America or a favourable Prime Minister in Britain for us to prosper. Yes, we can; yes, we can enter; yes, we can return from inferiority complex; yes, we can return from working to build other people’s nation; yes, we can return to dignity and honour; yes, we can return to blessing and favour; yes, we can return to healing and deliverance”.