2019 marks 400 years since the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade, the horrific voyage that transported Africans against their will to work as slaves in the West.
To mark the historic anniversary, actor Boris Kodjoe, Idris Elba, Naomi Campbell and other A-listers traveled to Ghana to visit Akwamuhene Odeneho Kwafo Akoto III at the Bogyawe Palace, Akwamufie where he was conferred a citation for “leading our kinsmen home.”
“My special thanks go to Boris Kodjoe and his colleagues for coordinating this all-important trip which I believe is by divine design,” said the Akwamuhene Wednesday at an emotionally-charged ceremony.
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During a speech he delivered at the event, he apologised on behalf of the African ancestors who contributed to the slave trade, then offered to start afresh in the new year with a renewed perspective on all Ghana has to offer.
“Today forms part of the new awakening. The beginning of our joint resolve to create a continent that we can all feel pride in calling our ancestral home. In many ways, we are grateful for the opportunity to heal and grow together as people united by both blood and purpose.”
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He then transitioned into the significance of Ghanaian names, starting with Kodjoe’s.
“In our culture, we have names for the particular day of the week a child is born. Kodjoe is derived from Kojo, the day name given to a male born on a Monday.”
He continued: “Our names are also our zip or post codes. They lead us directly to our ancestral homes, clans and family compounds,” adding that “no matter where an individual is born or raised in the world, as long as their parents give them their traditional first name or surname, that individual will always find their way directly back to the family they hail from here in Ghana.”
In a Facebook post written Tuesday, Kodjoe expressed gratitude for ringing in the new year in the country.
“Happy new year. I am so grateful to start my year in this amazing place with these incredible people around me. I feel blessed in my heart and empowered in my spirit. Thank you all for this transformative experience. I love you all.”
Kodjoe’s trip to the Palace is part of a week-long occasion called the Full Circle festival. The holiday, presented by the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Business Development and the Office of Diaspora Affairs, served as an opportunity for American and British Africans to gain a better connection to their roots.
“Ghana’s tourism industry will no doubt benefit from this historic event; and perhaps this is a glimpse into the emerging role of effective, dynamic traditional leadership. Long live Akwamuman. Long live Ghana!”