Thursday, August 2, 2007
Reasons for the ‘Joseph Project’
By: VICTORIA ANTWI SARPONG
AND Joseph made the son of Israel swear an oath and said: “God will surely come to your aid and then you must carry my bones up from this place”. (Genesis 50:25). (Hebrews. 11: 14) reads ‘By faith Moses when he had grown up refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter’.
These quotations speak volumes about human nature and the bond of relationship.
A sense of belongingness is deep-seated and could never be explained. Everyone wants to be with his own people event after death as the above statement of the biblical Joseph at the point of death and the behavior pattern of Moses indicate.
Moses though was privileged to be raised by Pharaoh’s daughter (Princess for that matter), at the time that his own people were in captivity he wanted to be associated with his own people, no matter the circumstances.
These analyses connote the need for Africans to create an enabling environment for our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to visit the motherland.
People draw a lot of inspiration from the story of Joseph in the Bible. A young and the most favoured child among the 12 children of Jacob, he was sold into slavery by his own brothers.
After years of suffering in agony Joseph bounced back into great prominence in a foreign land. He did not however pay evil for evil but forgave his brothers and saved them in trying circumstances.
These are the tenets of the ‘Joseph project’ that would be launched by the Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations this August. It deals with slavery, Forgiveness and Celebration of Excellence.
The “Joseph Project” is the first component of the “AKWAABA ANYEMI” programme that seeks to unite the African family and make the 21st Century the African Century so that the positive spirit and strength of African peoples will be released in a focused manner to emancipate Africans in the entire world. But due to the yawning gap created by over 400 years of slavery, this laudable idea could only be realized if some critical issues are addressed.
This is where the Joseph Project comes in to:
*Draw a comprehensive education process for both Africans in the homeland and those in the diaspora to ensure that we minimize the cultural shocks and conflicts that have occurred in the past as natural developments because of over 400 years of separation.
For example, there is the need to educate Africans in the homeland to address our brothers and sisters who visit as “ANYEMI” sister or brother in stead of calling them “OBRONI” The fact is when they are in their places of abode they are referred to as blacks so for them to come to Africa and be referred to as OBRONI is what they find irritating.
A ‘Healing Ceremony’ will be held to reconcile the African family. The motive of the ceremony is to ask for forgiveness in the same way Joseph forgave his brothers. We have to forget about the past and protect what we have now.
*Create a nationwide Pilgrimage Route from the north to the south of Ghana to expose the Slave Route to those who come to experience it. The route has been identified with the help of renowned Ghanaian historians. It passes through towns such as Pikwiri Nama- Paga, Salaga, Nalerigu, Gwullo, Bono Manso, Assin Praso, Assin Manso, Elmina and Cape Coast. The package can be offered to visiting diasporas.
*Work on the institution of a Diasporan Visa to facilitate the visit our brothers and sisters.
*Access the possibility of having a DNA Map that wills enable diasporans who take a DNA test have the opportunity to reconnect to their families in Africa.
*Celebrate African Excellence – this will accord due recognition to diasporans who have risen above slavery to heights of pride and excellence in the world.
The mere fact that we have survived the atrocities of slavery attests to how strong the spirit of the black race is. In the same way the biblical Joseph was able to rise above his chains so has many people risen above slavery.
We have immortal Josephs like Martin Luther King, Harriet Truman, Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley among others. These people made a mark in their lifetime despite the fact that their ancestors were sold into slavery. We also have living Josephs in all spheres of life. This is what needs to be celebrated and draw inspiration from such iconic personalities that no matter the circumstances one finds himself/herself one is more than a conqueror if one persists.
It is no surprise that Ghana is spearheading this event as we are on record as the first country south of the Sahara to gain independence. Our first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, reached out to all Africans in his time and is credited as the one who initiated the idea of a Union Government of Africa. Ghana is also the first country to celebrate Emancipation Day in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora.
Most of the Slave ports and castles, about 40 in number, are located on the coast of the country and it is believed that about a quarter of slaves passed through this country en-route to the unknown. It is therefore imperative to reverse the Door of no Return’ written on the last door that our kith and kin passed through to the unknown to the ‘Door of Return’.
This is the very reason why we are appealing to our kith and kin in the diaspora to visit the Homeland at least once in a lifetime or undertake a Pilgrimage every year as the Moslems visit Macca.
A’ wall of Return’ has been erected at Assin Manso in the Central Region where it is believed slaves had their last bath, for all returnees to etch their names and the names of their ancestors on it. This is to signify that one has returned to the ancestral land.
The Joseph Project has a lot to offer to all peoples of the black race. It is a rallying point to mobilize resources, talents, skills etc. of the black race for the betterment of Africans as a whole. Everyone should therefore be part of this historic event as it unfolds this August and the years to come to lift the banner of the continent.
In celebrating such event we should guard against the re-occurrence of any form of slavery and say to ourselves:
NEVER, NEVER AGAIN SHOULD SUCH A BARBARIC ACT HAPPEN TO ANY RACE.
The writer is Public Relations Officer,
Ministry of Tourism and Diasporan Relations.
The Ghanaian Times - Thursday, August 2, 2007 Page: 9