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Tourism Minister clarifies ‘Year of Return’, Central Region buzz

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The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, has justified why Central Region has been the focus of the Year of Return, Ghana 2019.

Taking her turn at the Meet The Press series in Accra, Thursday December 19, she dismissed claims that people from the diaspora didn’t visit other areas of the country.

The Year of Return is in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the slave trade, she noted, and the Central Region is the location of the forts and castles which were the conduits for the slave trade.

“When encaptured Africans were brought from the north, they were retained in the castles and boarded ships to go to the Americas,” she said, adding that, “when we have our brothers and sisters coming from the diaspora, they want to visit these sites.”

“That is why it seems as if all activities have been centered in the region.”

“But aside from visiting the forts and castles, some of them also visit other areas. Just that when they engage with the forts and castles, the emotions that come out is most often carried in the media. When they go to other places like the Ashanti Region or the Eastern Region to participate in durbars of chiefs, to visit the museums of the Ashanti kingdom and all that, it does not get much publicity,” she revealed.

“Most of the publicity is around the celebrities when they visit the castles and the emotional response,” she added.

In September 2018, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo declared and formally launched the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” for Africans in the Diaspora, giving fresh impetus to the quest to unite Africans on the continent with their brothers and sisters in the diaspora.

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.”

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