Boris Kodjoe a Hollywood actor of Ghanaian descent afforded his closest friends a once in a lifetime experience when he took them along to the inaugural Full Circle Festival in December.
This fest falls in line with Ghana’s historical efforts to strive for black independence on the continent cannot be overstated. From Yaa Asantewaa to Kwame Nkrumah, the nation’s history projects the eminence of bold-hearted personalities that contested western imperialism. Anchored at shores and coastal areas are pages of bloodied slave activity that cannot be unwritten. The experience of living the moment and seeing for oneself the history in motion can be whole wounding yet cathartic experience that words do not sufficiently express.
The Full Circle Festival was the first of its kind a “coming back home” reconnection to the roots of some of the stars of Black Hollywood in the year in which the world was commemorating four centuries since the beginning of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The festival which was organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture feeds into the government’s “Year of Return” which was launched to advocate for the return of African diasporans to return to their roots and ancestry.
Highly celebrated African American musicians, actor and actresses including Michael Jai White, Adrienne-Joi Johnson, Nicole Ari Parker, Anthony Anderson Rosario Dawson, Diggy Simmons, Anthony Anderson, Jidenna, Idris Elba and a host of many others were all present for this exciting journey to Ghana.
The intense inflection captured in the posts of their celebrities on Twitter and Instagram highlights the meaningfulness of their time in Ghana.
Boris Kodjoe reminisced the opportunity to literally walk the path of his deceased father.
AJ Johnson who celebrated her 56th birthday in style at the Royal Senchi in Ghana in reflection of the experience expressed gratitude and said she would be back home soon.
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*swipe left* 2018 was a year of highest ONLY GOD blessings and valleys deeper than ever before filled with loss. I knew all of it was allowed in my journey to build my more. Not just because I know that’s how God works but I could feel it. Through it all I felt more evolution more elevation more physical strength- more mind expansion and I KNEW more patience and more increase was my destiny. As I started the new calendar year yesterday and my personal new year today- I understand that there is sooo much more for me to do and receive... yup the more FOR me requires more FROM me so in preparation God has me here-in Africa- in the spirit filled waters of Ghana- surrounded by my #fullcirclefestival tribe and all their love and support-restoring myself-recommitting myself -confirming- receiving all that is my inheritance left for me by HIM through our ancestors. As these sacred waters wash over me. I cry for them. They died in these waters- they were unknowing what was next as they were chained to cross these waters. I feel their love and gratitude that I have not forgotten them or their journey and I have a firm grip on the torch they pass. It has taken 400 years but I’m here-my mom and dad didn’t make it but IM here UNCHAINED- I am evidence of the full circle- I have broken the myth behind the enslaved African’s door of no return. I am here- I returned and I’m claiming- Owning- celebrating -standing in my power- ready to walk in it even bolder than before...and THIS is the best birthday gift EVER!!!! Happy RE birthday to me. Amen #Jan02 🎂🎂🎂🎂🇬🇭
Talented award-winning rapper, Diggy Simons, could not hold his distaste for the media portrayal of the African continent admitting that the experience was truly an eye opener.
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Perhaps I’m ignorant. Perhaps I have been for some time now. Many of my perceptions, or misperceptions rather, were overdue to be rightfully shattered. It’s a shame—as one with many friends from Cameroon, Nigeria, and other countries throughout the continent of Africa—that I have remained so unaware. These friends raved about their homelands, and somehow their praise fell upon deaf ears, in part due to that as a child, Africa, to me, seemed branded as less than alluring. The media and my societal narrative has often viewed Africa with a lens of violence, poverty, and underdevelopment. This portrayal has caused generations of Africans to abandon their own heritage and traditions. During my trip to Ghana, I can’t say I’ve ever felt more comfortable in a space. I don’t think I stopped my Shaku from the time I got off the plane. Every stereotype that’s been perpetuated never pointed to me feeling this free. I was also fortunate enough to visit the slave dungeons in Cape Coast—small quarters where over a hundred of my potential ancestors were held captive on any given day with no nourishment, suffering in their own feces and urine. As heartbreaking as it was to stand on those grounds, my takeaway—apart from feeling both inspired and devastated—was a galvanized sense of pride. I felt as if I gained a more authentic and emboldened sense of self, furthering my own understanding of endurance through my ancestors’ plight. Thank you to @boriskodjoe @nicoleariparker @badassboz @thedebonairdisciple @nathanyahhalevi for the introduction to my truth. My year couldn’t have began with more clarity. 📸@joshuakissi styling: @nana.kwasi.wiafe
Mike Hill called out all Africans in diaspora to come back home; “Please visit Ghana and feel what I felt for yourself”
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I can’t stress enough how powerful and amazing my experience was in Ghana. The trip was capped by one of the most emotional events of my life, touring the Cape Coast slave castle. This is where many Africans spent their last days in Africa before being shipped off in bondage or killed. Thinking about the atrocities these men, women AND children endured and the conditions they had to stay in makes me emotional even now. It is a memory that will never leave me but also one that pushes me to be a better representative of my people, knowing what my ancestors went thru. I’m so thankful for my time there and the great people, including @cynthiabailey10 & many others that were there. Please visit Ghana and feel what I felt for yourself. 🇬🇭 #fullcirclefestival2018
Coming back to Ghana for Hollywood actor, Michael Jai White was also crowning moment for him as he was enstooled a chief of Akwamu, a privilege he values more than Knighthood by the Queen.
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Since my life changing trip to Ghana I’ve received much love but I’d like to focus on the minority of haters right now. I know some negative eyes are reading this looking for any excuse to reject what I say. I could take the easy route and reject negative folks but they are the ones who might benefit the most from what I have to say and besides- I love them too. Hell...we American blacks are SUPPOSED to think negatively about connecting to our homeland because that’s how we were conditioned to think! We’re SUPPOSED to think; all Africa was, was slavery when only an extremely small portion of the continent was even involved in the slave trade. We’re SUPPOSED to see Africa as starving people and jungles. We may call ourselves African Americans but we are truly disconnected from Africa. I say WE because I’m not excluded! I thought “my people” came from South Carolina which I now see, is as stupid as a Chinese man saying his people came from Ohio! I tracked my heritage and South Carolina was only a small part in the journey of my people that began in Ghana, a place that had kings well before Europe had theirs. For me to be appointed by the King Odeneho Kwafo of Akwamu is far more relevant than if I were knighted by Queen Elizabeth who’s royal bloodline doesn’t go back as far. Ghana is the 8th African country I’ve visited. They’ve all been astoundingly beautiful, with classy and very educated people who speak more languages than we do. To the negative folks-Maybe you can begin to direct that anger toward the mindset that finds comfort in you hating your own people and threatening for you to unite with them in solidarity. I believe the original culprits are long dead but their policies are alive and well. Jews visit Israel, Italian and Irish Americans proudly visit their homelands and no one seems to have a single negative thing to say! They have a country that loves and embraces them and WE HAVE A WHOLE CONTINENT THAT LOVES AND EMBRACES US! In Africa, a voice commands him to look around. The Voice: "Do you see any niggers?" He answers meekly “No.” The voice: "Do you know why? Because there aren't any." -Richard Pryor
The festival included a breakfast meeting with president of Ghana, H.E. Nana Akuffo Addo at the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel Accra, visits to many of Ghana’s history and leisure sites as well as various displays of nation’s rich culture and pride. Hopefully next year the event can grow in attendance and influence.