IT was a proud moment for Ghana and an experience of the country's rich culture for Diasporans at the Marhaba Festival as they took to the stage to participate in various cultural displays.
For many of the Diasporans, the festival was symbolic of their love for their heritage and the desire to identify with their ancestral roots even after 400 years of their departure from Africa through the Atlantic Slave Trade.
Not even their inability to be in tune with the rhythms of the drums could deter them from moving their bodies to traditional dances like Adowa, Kpanlogo, Borborbor and Damba which earned cheers from other patrons.
Speaking with the Graphic Showbiz, representative of the Diasporans, Kwame Ntono, who had earlier wowed the audience with some Twi phrases in his welcome address, congratulated the organisers of the Marhaba Festival for creating an opportunity for people of African descent to experience their culture.
“This moment is very emotional and spiritual not just for me but my brothers and sisters here today. The enthusiasm and level of energy displayed today are proof that we are happy to be back to our roots.
“This is our culture, traditions, customs and beliefs we were denied 400 years ago and there is obviously a spiritual connection to do this. This shows that before the advent of the white man, Africans had their way of life in worship and other forms of living and we must be proud of it and not try hard to be them,” he said.
The Marhaba Festival which came off at the Accra Tourist Information Centre was attended by the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr Akwasi Agyeman and players in the tourism industry.
The Festival included a durbar of chiefs with delegations from the Volta, Greater Accra, Northern, North East and the Ashanti regions.
Chiefs from different regions represented well at the Marhaba Festival
Some of them were Alhaji Omar Yakubu, Gonja Chief for Greater Accra, Nii Alabi Dzenge, Nungua Mankralo and Vice President of Nungua Traditional Council, Nana Osei Bannor, Adontehene of Asante Kokofu, Alhaji Osman Jackson, Greater Accra Mamprusi chief and Bona Professor Yakubu, Council of State member representing Dagombas.
In her address, the Tourism Minister said Ghana had the highest number of forts and dungeons in Africa and it was not a coincidence that it was the first African country to officially invite people of African descent back to their roots.
She acknowledged the contribution of the Year of Return to Ghana’s tourism sector and indicated the sector’s commitment to create an enabling environment for growth.
“The vision of the Ministry is to promote tourism pivoted on Creative Arts to create more employment and revenue generation,” she stated.
The Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister exchanges pleasantries with some of the patrons
The CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority Mr Akwasi Agyeman congratulated the Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF) for Marhaba and said, “it was one of the 78 activities endorsed under the umbrella of ‘Year of Return’.
The Chairman for the occasion, Daasebre Ewusi VII, Vice President of the National House of Chiefs and the Special Guest of Honour, Lepowura Alhaji MND Jawula, representing the Buipewura shared similar views on the spiritual significance of the Year of Return to people of African descent.
Marhaba, means ‘Welcome’ in the Dagomba language and according to the President of GHATOF, Madam Bella Ahu, it will be a yearly event to host Diasporans to rich Ghanaian culture.
Earlier, there had been a fraternity welcome event at Prampram Beach on Thursday as part of the three-day festival which ended on Saturday, July 20.