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400 years after, Ghana’s “Year of Return” inspires mass return to motherland2 minutes read

More than 100 African-Americans granted citizenship by Ghana at a time when the US struggles with identity and racial tensions

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400 years after, Ghana's "Year of Return" inspires mass return to motherland

It was the late reggae legend, Peter Tosh who, in one of his records, crooned along the lines of “I don’t care where you come from, as long as you’re a black man, you are an African”.

That statement has been subject to conjecture over the years, but one fact that is undeniable is that many African-Americans and Afro-Americans have expressed interest in tracing their roots back to the continent from which their ancestors were captured into slavery centuries ago, and to aid this quest, the Ghanaian government recently granted national citizenship to 126 African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans.

In a year that has been tagged “The Year of Return” by the nation formerly named Gold Coast by colonialists, this could prove to be the biggest gesture of fellowship so far that has been extended to people of colour living in the diaspora.

The event which was marked on November 27, 2019 in colourful fashion as the new citizens dressed in traditional attire, is made more significant by the fact that 2019 makes it exactly 400 years since the United States officially opened its harbours to slave ships for the first time.

To its credit, Ghana has always been at the forefront in attempting to reconnect African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans to the African continent.

READ: ‘Year of Return’ attracts African-American tourists to Ghana

In 2001, the Ghanaian government passed the Right Of Abode Law, which confers rights on anyone of African ancestry in the Americas to stay in Ghana indefinitely. In 2016, former President John Mahama had 34 African-Americans naturalised into Ghanaian citizenship, and in June 2019 current President Nana Akufo-Addo embarked on a five-nation tour of the Caribbean to promote the “homecoming” initiative.

It has been suggested that beyond its socio-cultural nuances, the move to extend citizenship to people in the diaspora also serves to boost Ghana’s tourism potential and influx of human capital, with the Afro Nation and Afrochella festivals – scheduled for December – expected to attract many young blacks from North America and the Caribbean.

This suggestion is valid, and economic gain is to be expected, but what is more important is how the opening of Ghana’s doors to diasporan Africans is totally in line with Pan-African values, and this move is one that Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, would have been proud of.

In a world where African-Americans are struggling with identity amidst the racial tensions that still haunt the United States, an offer of free citizenship by an African nation couldn’t have come at a better time.

The continent is by no means perfect, but it does provide a home for those who are frequently made to feel like they don’t belong in America, and evidently, these people are grabbing the chance to reconnect to the home of their ancestors, with both hands.

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Culture & Tourism

10 Safety and Security Tips You Should Note as You Travel this Christmas

Stay safe during your travels this festive period.

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Safety travel tips for the holidays

You can’t wait for Christmas to come. You’ve made or are currently making plans of how to make the best out of this Christmas season away from home in a vacation you’ve dreamt about all year long. December is finally here, you remember how you’ve googled the best destinations to travel to and how you finally made a choice. It’s a wonderful feeling.

There’s no doubt that travelling during the festive period can be a whole new level of excitement. However, it’s easy to lose your guard and get caught up in the thrill of Christmas adventures and/or shopping. While you get busy thinking about living your best life away from home, make sure that you don’t neglect travel security with these safety tips.

While you are preparing for your December vacations, like many, you may think you have it all sorted. Do you really have everything sorted out? Let’s look at a few things’ travellers like you should consider when travelling

Here is a list of 10 safety and security tips that may come in handy as you make final preparations for your December getaway.

Pre-travel research

As you begin to book your travel, research the destinations you will be visiting beforehand. Take note of risky areas and places you would need to seek out assistance for. Familiarise yourself with emergency numbers and take note of specific country restrictions such as electrical outlet wattage, local customs, traditions and holiday schedules.

The idea here is that while you’d be a stranger visiting the place, probably for the first time, you don’t want to end up being embarrassed or be robbed of a valuable possession. So, research and get a deep insight into the area, the people and be sure of the places you must avoid while vacationing there.

Pack smartly as you travel this Christmas

Only take what you need for the trip and where possible, leave valuable jewellery, clothing and other items at home. According to worldaware.com, “While you should leave unnecessary valuables at home while travelling, it’s important to know how to keep important items as protected as possible”.

Do not leave your valuable items like jewellery in checked bags. They should be in your possession either within your hand luggage or better still, in a waist belt or neck bag. It is equally ideal to have a change of clothes in your hand luggage. This will come in handy if your checked bag(s) gets missing or stolen.

Communicate with family during your trip

As you plan to make that trip, it is also important you tell family and friends about your travel plans and share your itinerary with them beforehand. Make plans for how family, friends and acquaintances can contact you while you’re away. Check-in periodically with family/friends as a basic precaution.

communicate with family and friends as you travel
A young woman makes a phone call while travelling. Photo credit: Shutterstock

During your vacation, you may change hotels, get on a cab or use other means of transport. You can always share your location with family and friends using the share location feature of Google Maps. If you’re using any cab/ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft, you should also share your trip with a few family members or friends.

Arrive early at the airport on your travel date

Allocate plenty of time to pass through security checkpoints as high travel volume during the holidays is likely to increase delays. Ensure you have obtained all necessary documents prior to departure including country-specific visas. Where you’re not clear, ensure to get clearance before the day of your trip. Call the airline you’re using or call the agent that helped with your flight/hotel booking.

Prearrange transportation throughout your trip

Typically, this is best done through your hotel or host. App-based rideshare services are also often an acceptable method of travel, though this can vary by location and local restrictions. If using taxis, make sure they are officially licensed. Remember to always share your transport routes and destinations with family and friends.

young man hails a cab while on vacation
A young man hails a cab while on vacation. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Don’t stick out or draw unnecessary attention while on vacation

People who look like they’re from out of town are especially vulnerable to crime, so try to blend in as much as you can. Be discreet when looking at maps and approach people carefully if you need to ask for directions. Maintain a low profile to prevent drawing attention to yourself and avoid obvious displays of wealth.

Travel in groups this Christmas

It’s pretty much easier to rob one person than a group of people. So, where possible, plan your trips and vacations in a group. Asides being safer, travelling in a group could be much more fun than you could have travelling solo especially if visiting a foreign language country. So, before finalising your travel plans, find out if there are any organised group packages to your chosen destination.

africans vacationing in group
Africans vacationing in groups. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Know your surroundings and stay current

When on vacation, you should be extra sensitive. If something or someone seems out of place, listen to your gut instinct and remove yourself from the situation or seek help. Stay informed of what’s happening in the area you’re travelling to. 

Never carry a lot of cash on you as you travel

Avoid carrying and using too much cash while travelling. As you make plans for your Christmas vacation, consider obtaining a pre-loaded debit card not tied to any of your bank accounts back home. Always keep a small separate amount hidden somewhere on your person in case of emergency. Avoid carrying valuables including tablets, laptops or expensive cameras when out for the day.

Be wary of public Wi-Fi while on your vacation

When you use public Wi-Fi, hackers looking to steal valuable information can access your data including credit card information. If you do need wireless internet service, set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that will allow you to access the internet securely while travelling. You can learn how to stay safe or set up a VPN while using public Wi-Fi here.

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Culture & Tourism

6 of the best travel destinations in Africa

Africa is beautiful. Discover places you wouldn’t believe are in Africa.

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best africa travel destinations
Pyramids of Giza. Photo Credits: Jacques Sierpinski / Aurimages

There is no gainsaying that Africa is mother nature’s favourite as the continent is blessed with immense natural and mineral resources. From deserts to savannahs, rainforests to mountains and waterfalls, name it, the mother continent has it all. No wonder the continent caught the attention of European navigators and explorers who could not resist the diverse richness of Africa. 

The continent plays host to the widest variety of natural wonders, fauna and flora as well as peoples and cultures. Among the many endowments are the natural and historic destinations spread all over the continent. Here is a list of 6 natural destinations you just cannot afford to miss.

10 African Destinations you must visit

The Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga, South Africa

The canyon which could easily be adjudged the most beautiful canyon in the world stretches a distance of 25 km to the north of the Drakensberg. This beauty of mother nature is located in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. The canyon, which consists mostly of red sandstone is located in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. According to Wikipedia encyclopedia, the highest point of the canyon, Mariespskop is 1,944 metres above sea level. This is about 6,378 ft. The lowest point where the river leaves the canyon is slightly less than 561 metres (1,841 ft) above sea level. Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world and the second-largest in Africa. It is also presumed to be the largest green canyon on earth because of its lush subtropical foliage. 

Now, you may wonder, why it made the list as one of the best travel destinations in Africa. Well, here are a few of the reasons:

  1. Bourkes Luck Pothole: the impressive rocks of the Bourkes Luck Potholes offer tourists an exciting view as it is close to tourists’ viewpoint. 
  2. Hippo Trail: this magnificent trail into the Blyde River Canyon is worth every second of your time spent on hiking on it. So, lace up your hiking boots and hit the Hippo Trail. 
  3. God’s Window: need just the perfect photo souvenir to take home from the Canyon? Then think no more! Get your phone or camera and walk down to God’s Window for your beautiful pictures. You’ll get the opportunity of capturing panoramic views that spread all the way down to the Kruger National Park. You can even see Mozambique from this point! 

Ensure you wrap up your stay in South Africa with a tour of the Blyde River Canyon next time you visit.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania 

You have denied yourself a great deal of adventure and pleasure if you are a safari lover but have not visited the beauty that lies in the East African country of Tanzania. Tanzania’s oldest and largest national park, Serengeti National Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It hosts the world’s most spectacular annual wildlife migration, which comprises of about two million wildebeest as well as thousands of Zebras.

It is also credited for hosting Africa’s largest lion population, with an estimate of 3000 lions. Other wildlife in the Serengeti includes buffalos, elephants and giraffes. The Serengeti National Park will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. 

Etosha National Park, Namibia

Located in Namibia, in southern Africa, is the Etosha National Park. The country’s flagship reserve is best known for the vast dry pan for which it is named. It’s prominent for its role in preserving black rhinos, leopards, elephants and lions. The best time to visit Etosha is during the dry season. Any time from April to October is perfect. But tourists can also visit during any other time. There are both government-run camps and exclusive camps for accommodations.

Siemens National Park, Ethiopia 

Formed by the massive erosion that affected the Ethiopian plateau for many years, the Siemens National Park has transitioned from erosion rubble to one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. Adorned with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp cliffs, Siemens National Park is home to a number of rare animals such as the Gelada baboon, the Simien fox and the Walia ibex, a goat found nowhere else in the world. 

The proof of the pudding is in the eating they say. So for you to fully capture the idea  and appreciate all that Siemens National Park has in stock then you should start rescheduling to include Ethiopia on your travel to-do list 

Yankari National Park, Nigeria

The large wildlife park which is located in the south-central part of Bauchi State, in Northern Nigeria covers an area of about 2,244 square kilometres. It is home to several natural springs. It is also famous for the many varieties of flowers found there. 

For decades, Yankari National Park formerly a reserve, has played host to thousands of tourists. The park has been ranked as the most popular tourist destination in Nigeria. Because of this, the park plays a significant role in the development and promotion of tourism and ecotourism in Nigeria. It is one of the most popular eco-destinations in Africa.

Kruger National Park, South Africa 

Located in the Northeastern region of South Africa lies the Kruger National Park. This park which is widely adjudged as one of the largest game reserves in Africa is famous for its high density of wild animals. These animals, referred to as the big 5, are lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. But the park is not the exclusive reserve of the big 5 as hundreds of other animals also inhabit the plains of the park. It covers an area of 19,485 km. Kruger National Park is the right destination for your getaway trips if you really want to walk on the wide side.

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Art

Millions of fans thrilled with Cardi B’s Africa tour

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Cardi B attends the Swisher Sweets Awards Cardi B With The 2019 "Spark Award" at The London West Hollywood in West Hollywood, Calif.(Photo by Billboard: Leon Bennett/FilmMagic)

It was all buzzing in Lagos and Accra during the weekend as Cardi B visited. 

Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar, popularly known as Cardi B was on a 2-nation African tour from Friday 5 December to Sunday 8 December.  She performed in Nigeria on Saturday and in Ghana on Sunday. 

There is no doubt the Grammy-Award winning rapper enjoyed every bit of her time in the 2 West African countries. She kept millions of fans all over the world thrilled with her energetic activities which she regularly updated via her social media posts.

In Nigeria, the 27-year-old’s performance went down on Saturday night at the Livespot Festival, held at the Eko Atlantic City, Lagos.

Performing alongside Cardi B at the festival was Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Teni, Patoranking, Joe Boy, Niniola and a host of other Nigerian artistes.

The beautiful rapper dressed in Nigeria’s national colours from hair to toe, to deliver an electrifying performance to the delight of her teeming Nigerian fans. 

She performed some of her hit songs like ‘I like It That’, ‘Girls Like You’, ‘Bodak Yellow’, ‘Money’ among others.

The Chief Creative Director of Livespot36 – the organizers of the festival, Dare Art Alade, while speaking at the largely-attended festival said:

“We know how much love the fans have for Cardi B and this was one of the reasons we chose to give fans a special experience to see the queen of hip-hop live in Lagos. However, we also are aware of the massive appeal of some of our Nigerian music acts. The show will definitely have been incomplete without these music stars, and this is why we all had a great time at Live Spot Festival”.

Cardi B who was quickly nicknamed Chioma B in Nigeria did not just come to Nigeria to perform and leave with her paycheck. She showed massive love for the country and her beautiful people. She visited motherless babies’ home with several gifts.  

She also had a swell time clubbing in some of the famous clubs in Lagos. At one of the clubs, she reportedly splashed a whooping 3 million naira. 

Nigerians do not waste time in returning any love shown to them. The comely rapper genuinely showed her love for Africa and this easily gained her endearment from millions.

Cardi B left Nigeria on Sunday to Ghana where she was received with equal love and energy. 

However, some Ghanian celebrities had earlier complained that they were snubbed by Cardi B when they came to her hotel to have a ‘Meet & Greet’ with her and she did not show up but she later cleared the air on what happened, saying she was not informed about the meeting and immediately promised to meet the guest celebrities.

She is expected to return to the United States on Monday.

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