(Reprinted from Ghanaweb News Service) Elmina(C/R), Aug. 2, 2006 – History was made on Wednesday, when the “Anyemi”, Africans living in the Diaspora, led by “Mensuon” (horn blowers), walked in droves through a symbolic “Door of Return” at the Elmina Castle, to enact their return to their roots. This was the highlight of the launching of the ‘Joseph Project’, which aims at reconnecting Africans in the Diaspora with their homeland. After going through the symbolic Door of Return, to defy the Castle’s “Door of no Return,” through which their ancestors were taken, the ‘Anyemi’ were taken through healing rituals during which they washed their hands with water and cinnamon leaves, to cleanse them of their pain and suffering. A ram was slaughtered while the elders sprinkled mashed yam and eggs around as part of the ceremony. The climax came when relatives of the “immortal Josephs”, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Mosiah Garvey and Bob Marley were enrobed in Kente cloths to signify the coat of colors presented to Joseph in the bible, for their struggle against slavery.
Addressing the people, the main architect of the ‘Joseph project’, Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, former Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, said the event was the culmination of a series of “activities, actions and interactions” spearheaded by Ghana to re-establish Africa as “a nation of all Africans, capable of delivering on the promise of God to Africans and the African people”. He said the purpose of the project was to make the 21st century the African century and that the government was inviting the Diasporans to make the return journey to reconnect with the land of their ancestors and their brothers and sisters in the homeland.
Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey described the project as a hope of rebirth, an outreach and a gateway of reaching out to those in the Diaspora. He said monuments would be erected in Accra in memory of the ancestors to serve as a pilgrim centre, where the ‘Anyemi’ would visit once in their lifetime to reverse the “Door of no Return.” This he said would be the first step of reunion and reconnection, adding that it would also help them to trace their roots and get to know more about the edifice of the slave trade, such as the slave markets, castles, forts and the rich culture of Africa. A delegate from Cameroon, King Douala Belle, who represented the kings of Africa, lauded the project and said Africans “should not keep quiet until all Africans in the Diaspora come back to their roots to help in the development of the continent.” He held that before the slave trade, there was no division among African states and that the time had come for Africans to pool their resources for the total development of the continent. Odeneho Gyapong Ababio, president of the National House of Chiefs, apologized to the Anyemi for the role Ghanaian and other African traditional rulers played in the slave trade. He recognized the gesture of some of the Anyemi who had come to invest in the country and urged them to encourage others to return to their motherland.
Nana Kodwo Condua VI, Omanhen of Edina traditional area, lauded the “Joseph” project and expressed his joy at the return of the Anyemi. “As people with one common destiny, we should come together to charter a new course that would benefit our people,” he said and promised free land for those who intend to stay back and invest in the area.