Beyond the Return is the follow-up to 2019 successful “Year of Return” campaign.
The Year of Return was formally launched by President Akufo Addo in September 2018 in Washington D.C., where he officially invited Ghanaian and African descendants to come “back home” and reconnect with their African roots. 2019 marked in fact exactly 400 years since the first enslaved African arrived in Jamestown Virginia.
At that event, President Akufo-Addo said “We know of the extraordinary achievements and contributions they [Africans in the Diaspora] made to the lives of the Americans, and it is important that this symbolic year – 400 years later- we commemorate their existence and their sacrifices”.
The level of success achieved by the “Year of Return” campaign in 2019 was unprecedented. It attracted about 200,000 people from around the globe to Ghana. Also a lot of celebrities such as actor Boris Kodjoe, rapper Cardi B., comedian Steve Harvey, model Naomi Campell, author Luvvie Ajayi and footballer Memphis Depay responded to President Akufo-Addo’s invitation and joined the year of commemoration. They all came to experience their own “African heritage”.
Travellers took part in many events organized in different regions of the country. There were cultural festivals, art exhibitions, music performances and of course tours to the historical slave forts. Millions of dollars were injected into the economy and the Ghanaian government can look back with much gratitude and satisfaction. Indeed, Ghana left an everlasting impression on its visitors.
But the Year of Return was not a one-time occasion. As a matter of fact, it was set up with the aim to build a permanent bridge between the country and the descendants who can trace back their roots to Africa. With the initiative “Beyond The Return, The Diaspora Dividend”, the government invites the Diasporans to come and work, study and invest in Ghana, contributing to the further growth and development of the country. In 2019, already more than 120 repatriates responded to that call and obtained citizenship. Also, a Diaspora Engagement Policy is in the pipeline to be launched.
The key organizers of Beyond The Return, aimed at leveraging the successes of the Year of Return, have announced “A Decade of African Renaissance”. With this new theme they have formulated 7 pillars, for the next ten years, to grow Ghana’s tourism industry, showcase its investment potential, and solidify its Diaspora engagement programs. Under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture, the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) will coordinate the project for a successful implementation of the “Beyond the Return”. GTA will work in conjunction with the Diaspora Affairs Office of the President, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Finance, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Ghana Immigration, and other key stakeholders.
If there is one thing that has become clear after so many travellers, so many activities and even more social media posts, it is that indeed, a new generation, who sees and experiences Ghana as the next frontier, has proven to be ready for a longstanding connection.
THE 7 PILLARS OF BEYOND THE RETURN
Experience Ghana will facilitate creating memorable experiences through Sankofa and healing journeys, events, festivals, entertainment, nightlife and December in Ghana.
PROMOTE PAN AFRICAN HERITAGE
Pan African Heritage & Innovation will focus on promoting Pan-Africanism & Ghanaian heritage. The pillar will also develop pilgrimage tourism infrastructure around sites of memory.
INVEST IN GHANA
Invest in Ghana will facilitate special investment programs such as the Sankofa Savings account, ease the requirements of doing business, and identify land investment opportunities for diasporans.
DIASPORA PATHWAY TO GHANA
Diaspora Pathway to Ghana will see to the adoption of legal and policy frameworks on visa acquisition (e-visa) and the institution of a diaspora visa. It will facilitate key diaspora pathway programs such as citizenship, educational and work exchanges, residence and work permits.
GIVE BACK GHANA
Give Back Ghana will foster a new sense of community service and giving. Service areas will include tree planting, community clean ups, technical training, community enhancement projects, and the diaspora giving framework.
Celebrate Ghana will create a sense of national consciousness anchored on key cultural festivals unto the national calendar, and promotion of domestic tourism.
Brand Ghana will create marketing campaigns to promote Ghana as a hub for the African renaissance and craft a new international narrative on Ghana.