It’s been an incredible journey thus far and it’s only been day 2. 2019 is the “Year of Return” to Ghana as it marks 400 years of the slave trade. Actor Boris Kudjoe of Ghanaian descent stormed Ghana with 40 celebrities to enjoy the rich culture and heritage of this country. Tour Guide Kat St Thomas, that would be me; stormed Ghana with 21 KATTRAX celebrities to not only enjoy the rich culture but to learn as well as be reminded of those that fought to make this country what it is today,
My subject, “Forward Ever, Backward Never” was a quote of Ghana’s 1st Prime Minister and President, Kwame Nkrumah. After clearing Immigration and Customs, we were met by our guide, Elvis. Again, I’ve been so blessed to have such a knowledgeable guide who is clearly passionate about what he does. Once settled on our very nice and spacious air conditioned bus; he immediately began to tell us of the horror our ancestors faced being captives, then eventually smeared with Shea butter and branded with a sizzling branding iron and how the only ones that knew water to shower off the urine, feces, menses were the women that faced being raped by their captors. Yes, tears welled up in his eyes and we felt his pain. It was quite sobering to hear such an account. As we rode in silence to our hotel, we intently paid attention to the narrative. We drove past a statue called the BIG SIX. They were 6 leaders of the United Gold Coast Convention; the leading political party in the British Colony of the Gold Coast. They were detained by the Colonial authorities in 1948 following disturbances that led to the killing of 3 WW II veterans. They are pictured on Ghana’s currency.
As we arrived at the hotel, drummers and dancers welcomed us and then we were taken to a meeting room and given a brief orientation. We felt the love. They even arranged for a banker to come to us to exchange our U.S. dollars for GHS Cedis. Who gets that kind of treatment? The hotel is 5 star and WOW – with out words!
The next morning after breakfast was our city tour. The first stop was the W.E.B. Dubois Center for Pan African Culture where Dr. Dubois (an academic and civil rights champion) spent two years working on a Pan African encyclopedia under the invitation of Kwame Nkrumah. We had a guided tour through the center and saw the FBI file they had on him because he was suspected of having communist ties. We also stopped by the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and visited his resting place.
Quite a full day, a short time to chill at the hotel and then reservations at one of the hottest clubs in town, +233 ( Ghana’s area code). It was an outdoor setting, the weather was perfect, and the jazz was on point. They feature some of the best musicians in Accra. A sister, Sandra Houston, joined the band on stage. She is sensational, belting out jazz standards like “How High the Moon” and some Anita Baker tunes, “Been So Long” and “Good Enough”. A dear friend from JOBURG, by way of Pittsburgh a Gemologist, Brenda Joyce, who was invited to South Africa years ago by Nelson Mandela to teach cutting and polishing diamonds now a citizen of Ghana met us at the club. She too, a vocalist in her own right, joined the band on stage. Brenda was instrumental in connecting our Gail Kelly with a rep from an orphanage to present 30 childrens dresses she made from pillow cases. It’s been a fantastic time and I’m feeling and lovin’ the vibe.
Tomorrow will be an emotionally charged day as we make our way to the infamous Forts, Castles and Slave Dungeons of Ghana.