Saturday, September 8, 2007
The Joseph Project
By: John Bosco Tieyiri
(Ghana Tourist Board)
THE Joseph Project is an initiative of the Ghana government to the Diasporans to return home and re-connect with their people to pursue programmes and projects to develop the African continent.
The Project represents a concept comprising a series of programmes and activities being “spearheaded by Ghana to re-establish the African Nation as a Nation of all Africans, capable of delivering on the promises of God to Africans and the African people”.
The project was launched at Elmina on August 1, 2007 by the former Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey. It was at this launching that many people saw a manifestation of how deeply the Diasporans wish to reconnect with their folks back in Africa.
If the Project can’t boast of any significant influence it has had on the Diasporans, the cheerful and smiling faces that greeted all and sundry at the Elmina Castle as they symbolically filed through the “Door of Return” to signify their return from slavery was enough. One could see a reconciled expression on the faces of the returnees who are poised to help in the rebuilding of the African continent into its status quo.
This article sees the Joseph Project as an initiative capable of breaking cultures of Africa in order to re-unite all Africans, both locally and those in the diaspora.
Indeed, Africa is made up of various cultures and ethnic groupings and for that reason, different values and beliefs are bound to exist among them. Among the 52 countries in Africa, there are different cultures and ethnic groupings and for that reason, different values and beliefs, not to talk about different languages.
It is not easy to bring such people under one umbrella without the tendency of promoting tribal and ethnic conflicts among the African people. Nevertheless, the Joseph Project has proved to be culturally neutral – it does not seek to promote a particular culture except to defend the African values and beliefs and to help restore the pride of the Africans.
Africans in the diaspora are beginning to let go the differences in cultural and ethnic values and beliefs and re-unite irrespective of where one can trace his or her ancestors. They have unanimously chosen Ghana as their motherland – pressing hard to redefine the cosmopolitan characteristics of Africa. This was amply demonstrated at the launch of the Joseph Project. They are prepared to return to Ghana with their earnings to invest in the Ghanaian economy – an economy representing African interest. Most diasporans have already started investing in various sectors of the economy, especially in the tourism industry.
To them if the enabling environment is created back at home with rule of law and other pro-investment laws put in place and upheld, they have the duty compelling enough to invest more in the African economy in order to usher the continent into the middle income earning status that it dreams of becoming.
In an interview at the launching of the Joseph Project, Mrs. Ann Marie Charles de Silva, Chairman and Director of Caribbean Atlantic Holdings Ltd who also serves on the International Board of PANAFEST, revealed that she has Indian blood but lives in the Caribbean. She has decided to make Ghana her permanent home.
Responding to a question as to whether the Joseph Project has any positive impact at all on the cultural values of Diasporans, Mrs. Ann Marie de Silva said the project has a “tremendous influence in breaking the cultural differences that exist among the African people”.
In a survey of a cross section of the returnees, who were sampled to find out how the diasporans could make Ghana their homeland, about 85 per cent of them did show a strong interest and desire to make Ghana their motherland irrespective of what ethnic background one is identified with.
The Spectator - Saturday, September 8, 2007 Page: 23