As Donald Trump marked the 400th anniversary of American democracy in Virginia, in southern Ghana, US House speaker Nancy Pelosi and 13 members of the Congressional Black Caucus were observing the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in Virginia. The lawmakers visited the Cape Coast and Elmina slave castles, where hundreds of thousands of captured Africans were forced onto ships never to return.
The US delegation to Ghana included civil rights icon John Lewis and Ilhan Omar, two on a long list of politicians of color at the receiving end of racist remarks by the current US president.
Ghana, a significant place of origin for enslaved Africans in the Americas, has launched a year-long commemorative initiative called “The Year of Return”. Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo said at the Washington DC launch in October 2018 that the commemoration is meant to encourage people of African ancestry to make the “birthright journey home for the global African family.”
Leading civil rights leaders including Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King attended Ghana’s Independence Day celebration on Mar. 6, 1957 as its first president Kwame Nkrumah laid a pan-Africanist vision that transcended the shores of Africa.
Since then, Ghana has been home to African Americans thinkers and activists including Maya Angelou, Rita Marley, W.E.B Du Bois and George Padmore. Du Bois and Padmore are buried in Accra.
On Twitter, congressowman Ilhan Omar, who was raised in a Refugee camp in Kenya after her parents escaped the civil war in Somalia, wrote that she was happy to return to Mother Africa.
They said “send her back” but Speaker @SpeakerPelosi didn’t just make arrangements to send me back, she went back with me ✊🏽
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) August 1, 2019