(note: I've made spelling and grammar corrections)
The Ghana Joseph Project...
The Ghana Government intends to use the year 2007, 50th Anniversary of the country’s independence, to celebrate African excellence and to inaugurate the Joseph Project. Ghana will use the year to bring together, more closely, people in Ghana and brothers and sister in the Diaspora, and establish herself as the true Homeland for Africans in the Diaspora.
Over almost 400 years, millions of Africans were transported across the Atlantic Ocean from West and Central Africa to the Americas. Almost as many as survived the crossing died during the journey.
The Atlantic Slave Trade remains the greatest example in history of man’s inhumanity to man. The memory of it can never be erased and so many of its negative consequences continue to weaken us today.
Nevertheless, it happened and we are not wise enough to question God’s wisdom about why it happened. However, we believe that the time has come for us to gather some strength from this otherwise cataclysmic event.
Those of us who believe this take our inspiration from the story of Joseph in the Bible. For we believe that God loved Joseph and yet saw him cast into the hell of slavery and brought out in triumph, to magnify the scale of his favour.
Genesis 37:28 “Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt”. 45:26-28 “And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not; and they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived; And Israel said, it is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die”.
Africans in the Diaspora
While it is miserably true that there are far too many Africans held down by the legacy of their chains, it is also true that there are many, like Joseph, who have risen and are shining examples of the best of the human spirit and of what man can achieve. History is replete with the names of those who rose not only above their chains but rose above those who sought to chain them.
Today there are, by God’s will, many such distinguished people so many diverse fields who continue to be held high and to inspire us all.
Ghana the Homeland
Ghana is a nation of similar achievement to those luminaries. Ghana was the first African colony to gain its independence. The Black Star of Africa inspired and drew inspiration from the fight for the full emancipation of Africans in the Americas, especially the Civil Rights struggle in the U.S in the 1950s and 60s.
It is in Ghana that the remains of the late W.E.B. Dubois are interred. Ghana has also struggled and continues to struggle for the full emancipation and dignity of the black race.
Ghana today is a beacon in Africa of good governance: Ghana is the example of the capacity of the African to manage his/her own affairs in a decent, humane, disciplined and respected manner. Ghana is a natural inspiration for African pride.
Ghana is a natural choice to spearhead the research into the slave trade and telling the real story of what happened. From Mauritania to Angola where the slaves were taken, Ghana lies at the centre.
There are some 40 forts, castles and trade posts that were used in the transportation of the slaves still existing in Ghana. Far more in Ghana than in the rest of West and Central Africa combined. Many of those in Ghana are well preserved.
Ghana has dedicated itself to finding out the full story of the evil trade and making sure that this truly African story is told by Africans. Ghana has set up a Multi-Sectoral Committee to research and trace the slave route. There are historians, archaeologists and restorers working together on this. Routes that captives took have been identified, where they bathed, ate, camped, and existed to the Americas.
In addition to being Ghana’s 50th Independence Anniversary, 2007 is also the 200th Anniversary of (1) The Act of March 2nd 1807, passed in the U.S., which forbade trading in slaves with Africa.
The Act of the British parliament in 1807 abolished the Slave Trade with their colonies. This had an immediate impact in South America leading to the trade being declared illegal in Venezuela and Mexico in 1810, Chile and Argentina in 1812. 1807 is thus recognization (a recognizable?) and acceptable date for the abolition of the Atlantic (slave trade).
As every Muslim must visit Mecca at least once in their lifetime so we want to establish a pilgrimage to Ghana, one that every African in the Diaspora must undertake at least once in their lifetime.
For our Pilgrims there will definitely be sadness and anger in the homecoming pilgrimage but yet it will be an upliftment, a catharsis, a self re-discovery – a Strengthening. They will reverse the journey that started with the “Door of No Return”.
Once in Ghana they will retrace the route from the coast to the areas where people were hunted. They will visit the Slave markets, the baths, and the rest stops on the long journey to the slave lodges, forts and castles from where people departed through the “Door of no Return”.
This part will be painful. But we will attempt to lift up hearts.
We will build in one of these slave castles, from which our people were shipped out supposedly never to return, a museum dedicated to those Africans in all walks of life who triumphed over slavery, who triumphed over every diversity, who triumphed and continue to triumph over those who sought to enchain them: - we will build a monument to The True Joseph. At this monument you will relive the story of Mary MacLeod Bethune… (note: I'm thinking they mean to include more names here -Chike)
All those of blessed memory and you will also meet the Josephs of today, those still alive, whose lives are an inspiration to us, whose lives are blazing torches of the true African spirit. Here you will find the inspiration to overcome all of life’s challenges.
Here we will share the strength and power and inspiration of those who rose to triumph.