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President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, centre, greets students and other persons in Kingstown on Wednesday while Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, right, looks on. (iWN photo)
President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, centre, greets students and other persons in Kingstown on Wednesday while Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, right, looks on. (iWN photo)

Four centuries after the Atlantic Slave Trade began, the president of Ghana is inviting the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to visit the African nation this year, which Accra has declared “The Year of Return”.

Delivering a public lecture on Wednesday at the beginning of a two-day official visit to SVG, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said 2019 marks 400 years since the first recorded arrival in the Americas of slaves from West Africa.

“They were taken to the Commonwealth of Virginia in what subsequently became the United States,” he told a public lecture at the SVG Community College Villa Campus.

Akufo-Addo said those were the first of 20 million Africans who would be abducted from central and western Africa and brought in slave ships on the most perilous journey in history: The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.

“It is important to all of us: those of us on the continent and those of us who were brought here that we find a way of testifying that never again are we going to allow ourselves to be subjected to such a dehumanising experience,” Akufo-Addo said.

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Ghana has inaugurated “The Year of Return” to commemorate the commencement of the Atlantic Slave Trade and to reinforce its commitment that never again will Africans be traded like commodities.

“It’s a programme I launched in Washington in October and there are a series of events taking place this year which will commemorate that fundamental experience.”

Akufo-Addo said talking about the Year of Return and inviting Vincentians to visit Ghana for the commemoration was one of the three reasons he had come to SVG.

“The Ghanaian people are very excited about the possibility that their brothers and sisters from the Caribbean will be joining them this year; also from North America and the Americas in general to be joining them this year. We want you to feel very welcome and come and taste a little bit of Ghanaian hospitality. You will not regret it. I can promise you that.”

He said that in 1957, when Ghana obtained independence, many leaders from the Americas were there, including Martin Luther King, Cheddi Jagan, and Forbes Burnham.

On that occasion, Ghana pledged itself to the pan-African project: bringing all the people of African descent across the world to form an important bloc in the world “so that we can protect ourselves and also gain the necessary strength to be able to develop in peace,” said Akufo-Addo who came to office in January 2017.

He said that since Ghana’s independence, the pan-African project has been a major part of Ghanaian public policy.

“And we are saying to ourselves that this year, which is the Year of Return, gives us that opportunity to revive and revisit those goals and values.”

“The celebrations in Accra are going to be an occasion for us to hold hands again and to say that the linkages that we have reasserted are linkages that will not be broken, and the linkages that will mean that together, you on this side, we on the continent, will work together to grow ourselves with one clear understanding: at the end of the day, black people all over the world are judged by what goes on in Africa.

“I’m sure you know it. So many times people are telling you, you see what is going on there; they are doing this, that — all of that is an effort to demoralise you. At the end of the day, if Africa works, you work, and we are determined that with your support and encouragement, Africa will work, and work, and work, and work again.”

Akufo-Addo said he was also in SVG to reciprocate a visit by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to his nation last November.

“He came and you know how he is. He turned out to be very big hit in Accra. And when he was there, he came to visit me. We began a conversation about what we, in Ghana, and you in St. Vincent and the Grenadines can do to up our relationship and also the connection between us in Africa and you here.”

The third reason for the visit was to continue with Gonsalves, the conversations that began in Accra about strengthening economic relations between the two countries.

“It’s important for all of us to recognise that there is great potential for all of us in the relations between those of us in the south and that the relations of exploitation that we have had systematically with the north can be replaced by fruitful and productive relations between those of us in the south,” Akufo-Addo said.

The Ghanaian leader was making his second visit to SVG, having come about 17 years ago, when he was his country’s attorney general.

“This visit tells me about how extensive the transformation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been in these 17 years since I was last here, beginning with the airport.

“I came to a rather small airport so, I was a bit disconcerted when I came to this one and saw this big new modern airport. And that was an indication that, indeed, significant transformation is taking place here under the leadership of Dr. Gonsalves,” he said, referring to Argyle International Airport, which was opened in February 2017 — some seven years behind schedule.

Akufo-Addo also congratulated SVG on its election, last Friday, to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, the smallest country to ever secure such a position.

 “That is very strong testimony as to how the world, the international community values and regards St. Vincent and the Grenadines and you should be appropriately grateful for that recognition,” he said of the accomplishment, which would see SVG sitting on the UN Security Council for the 2020-2021 term.

Regarding accomplishments in his own country, Akufo-Addo said that his government abolished senior high school fees, resulting in some 300,000 more young Ghanaians attending senior high school.

“It’s an important step for us as we are determined to make sure that our entire population is educated as quickly as possible because we believe that it is human beings, educated human being that transform society, not the gold you have in your soil or the products you have in your lands or the oil you have offshore your country. It is human beings, properly formed, properly motivated, properly engaged who are those  instruments of change in the 21st Century and we want Ghanaian youth to be at the forefront of that change,” he said. 

He told the students at the SVG community College that they are competing against their peers across the globe “and that is the paradigm that we want to imbibe in you so that we can all reach for the sky and make of ourselves, here in the Caribbean and on the African continent what we should make of ourselves — developed and prosperous and progressive and forward looking”.

On Wednesday, Akufo-Addo also addressed the national assembly during a special sitting of Parliament, planted a tree at SVG’s historic botanical gardens — the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.

He had a private audience with Ghanaians in SVG, met with Gonsalves with whom he co-hosted a press conference as well as attended an official reception at the office of the Prime Minister.

The visit forms part of a tour of the Caribbean that includes stops in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Jamaica.

Akufo-Addo will tour Argyle International Airport on Thursday before departing SVG.

Ghana and SVG established diplomatic relations on Aug. 1, 2008.

Since then, both countries continue to strengthen the relationship to foster greater prospects for trade, people-to-people exchanges, and cooperation in oil and gas, agriculture, education, health and tourism, as well as investment opportunities, the Agency for Public Information said.

7 replies on “Vincies invited to visit Ghana in this ‘Year of Return’”

    1. Jolly Green says:

      There is still Trokosi slavery practiced in Ghana. Shrine priests accept little girls from families to remove the sins against the families. When the girls reach puberty, even before sometimes, the priest has sex with them. they become his sex slave serving at the altar.

      They say it has stopped but it has not, it continues.

  1. Making friends and influencing people are the stock in trade of conmen the world over but as the euphoria and exuberance of our U.N election fades and the reality of our having to come down to earth again in dealing with our very real day to day problems of food on the table, lack of proper health care, poor roads and a broken civil society where only the regime’s connected gets justice, the Ralph Gonsalves administration will no doubt be having talks with their Venezuelan, Cuban and other anti-American President’s counterparts be they in South America, Asia, Europe, in America itself or Africa but is this Ghanaian President one?

    In the U.S.A fresh from his Migrants Agreement with Mexico, the U.S president, Donald Trump says that he is now looking into the possibility of granting asylum or Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan migrants. Therefore, is the prospect of an American conflict with Iran or the Maduro Regime of Venezuela more or less likely? This is one of the questions that the Ralph Gonsalves regime here in St Vincent and the Grenadines are having to now ask themselves.

    But as the suffering Venezuelan populace of the Maduro regime scuttles about the country looking for petrol for their vehicles, the Venezuelan health care system continues to deteriorate apace through their ongoing economic crisis that stretches back to the days of Hugo Chavez with the said U.N having recorded that over 4 million Venezuelans leaving the country over the past few years.

    Previous American presidents had vowed to stop the Iranians from acquiring Nuclear weapons however “Iran’s ayatollah claims US ‘couldn’t do anything’ to stop his country getting nuclear weapons as he vows never to negotiate with Donald Trump.” Yet another pending security issue for the U.N security council but is it one for Vincentians too?

    Ralph Gonsalves delusion is although St Vincent and the Grenadines is a little impoverished backward Mino, he being on the Security Council for two years from January 2020, that he somehow can play a big role in influencing world events on the behalf of St Vincent and the Grenadines, although all this would be to the neglect of the real problems that face us Vincentians on our day to day basis, such as our lack of gainful work, good health care, poor living environment and the ongoing broken economy here.

    Therefore, with so much of those same woes and anguishes that are affecting the Venezuelans populace affecting us here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, one has to continue to ask these most pertinent of questions of the Gonsalves regime.

    Have the Gonsalves regime got their priority, right? Seeing we are where we are, should not their quest be for the Vincentian people’s health, wealth and prosperity first, over and above of all others and their problems? Should he and his regime be putting our own house in order before embarking on seeking to solve the world’s problems?

    Why are the problems of Iran, Cuba, Hamas in Gaza or those in Venezuela of more relevance to our elected officials than those of us suffering Vincentians? Why must Vincentians continue to suffer deprivation as a result of a delusional individual who lords it over the nation as a dictator like any medieval feudal monarch? Is our ancestral slavery now our undoing, being used as the Cat’s paw by nefarious individuals determined to exploit our weakness and gross ignorance?

  2. Jolly Green says:

    Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo ancestors sold our people into slavery and Ralph Gonsalves Portuguese ancestors bought them, shipped them and sold them to Brazil where most of them went, the USA was only a minor player in slavery compared to Brazil. Gonsalves ancestors were the very first Europeans to but African slaves. The Portuguese were the first to ship slaves across the Atlantic.

    Ghana captured and sold more slaves and the Portuguese bought shipped and sold more African slaves than any other countries.

    In 2002, Ghana, West Africa. The Archbishop of Accra [Ghana] Charles G. Palmer-Buckle apologized on behalf of Africans for the part Africans played in the slave trade, and Bishop John Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee accepted the apology.
    Ref: Tom Roberts, Ghanaian bishop offers apology for Africans’ part in slave trade, National Catholic Reporter, 13 September 2002.

    2017, February 2, Ghana: A plaque at Elmina Castle [installed] shows the role African chiefs played in the slave trade and apologizes for letting it happen in the first place.

    The history is there for all to see

    1441, Antão Gonçalves [Anthony Gonsalves] was sent by Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal to explore the West African coast in an expedition under the command of Nuno Tristão. As Anthony Gonsalves was considerably younger than Tristão, his duty was less exploration than it was hunting the Mediterranean monk seals that inhabit West Africa. After he had filled his small vessel with seal skins, Gonçalves, on his initiative, decided to buy some Africans to return to Portugal. With nine of his crewmen, Gonçalves bought the Africans. Antão Gonçalves became a leading 15th-century Portuguese explorer and slave trader when he bought Africans from a beach in North West Africa. He is also known as the first European to buy Africans as slaves from black slave traders.

    On the three occasions I have been to Africa I found disrespect from Africans when they knew I was from the Caribbean and my ancestors were slaves.

    Ghana has thousands of slaves even today, how dare Gonsalves try and pull this nonsense on Vincentians.

    Ghanaians sold us, Portuguese bought us, never forget that.

  3. Ricardo Francis says:

    Jolly Green, Peter Binose have made similar comments in the past. I endorse what you are saying, in the general context of speaking. I will add that there are wealthy AFRICAN families to this day who are still very wealthy as a result of SLAVERY. The President of Ghana, I believe may have that lineage.

    The re-enslavement of our people right before their eyes. There is always more than what the eyes can see.

    King Jaja of Opobo, was an AFRICAN/NIGERIAN who once lived in St. Vincent. and who was a slave trader of Opobo, which is, now, considered part of modern day Nigerian. He lived in two different properties in St. Vincent: one the properties (now demolished) is at FORT Charlotte and the land, now, has a home that belongs to the DASILVA family.

    João Gonçalves Zarco (John Gonsalves) was the first person to settle in Madeira. The Gonsalves in SVG are originally from Madeira, Ralph Gonsalves is a descent of John Gonsalves. The Gonsalves lineage, as I understand the facts, were at one time, in history, as far back as 70 BC, WARMONGERS.

    The gullible and the ignorant shall always be taken for a ride by these leaders since the gullible and the ignorant fail and or are too lazy to do the research. GOD SAVE US ALL!!!

    Ralph Gonsalves does not like the representations and presentations that I continue to make. Ralph Gonsalves can go fly a KITE.

    Ricardo Francis, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Waiting and in the Making

    1. Jolly Green says:

      Ricardo seeing as your Ralphs cousin you should know more about him, or at least as much as the most informed. Can you answer the following please?

      Has he been offered honorary position as a Shrine priest? Could there be any truth in that or is it just another of those stories?

  4. Ricardo Francis says:

    Jolly Green, I am Ralph’s nephew and cousin (twice). Ralph is my father’s (sperm donor) brother. My attachment to the family was by the way of my grandmother, Theresa Francis( Ralph’s mother). I have the last name, Francis, because of my grandmother.

    I do not have any knowledge and or information about Ralph being an honorary SHINTO (shrine) priest. There is nothing about Ralph, the Pharaoh leader that surprises me. Ralph will and shall do anything to satisfy his ego.

    It will all come out in the open, someday. It is believed that Ralph has his unofficial ambassadors everywhere and anywhere are spreading false information and making negative representations about persons who are critical of Ralph and the ULP.

    My story is an open secret. The world shall know all the facts, someday.

    I shall be Prime Minister with the blessing of the Great and Good Lord and the confidence of the Great and Good people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

    I am, very fearless and courage.

    Ricardo Francis, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Waiting and in the Making

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