31.07.2006 General News

Ghana, United States Virgin Islands Establish Linkage

Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister for Tourism and Diasporean RelationsMr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister for Tourism and Diasporean Relations
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A ritual dubbed: "Reconciliation ceremony" was last Saturday performed for a ten-member delegation from the United States Virgin Islands by the Osu Traditional Council as a sign of acceptance back to the homeland.

The ritual is also aimed at healing the emotional pains of the past as a result of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, which robbed Africa of her human resources.

As part of the reconciliation ceremony, people from the US Virgin Islands were given local names, they were moved to and fro at the entrance of the palace and made to jump over a bowl of water containing leaves.

Leaves were hanged around their necks, amidst drumming and dancing, while certain recitals and libation was poured to communicate to the ancestors that their descendants had returned home to reunite with the African family.

It is believed that some of the slaves shipped from the Christianborg Castle were taken to the Virgin Islands, formally the Danish West Indies, hence establishing a link between the people of Osu and those in the Virgin Islands. Indigenes of the Osu Traditional area led by the traditional rulers in the area and the Minister for Tourism and Diasporean Relations, Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, joined the group to visit certain historic houses believed to accommodate slaves and houses of African heroes.

Among houses visited were the house of Tetteh Quarshie, the man who brought cocoa to Ghana, the Richter family house, the Wulff family house and other houses that showed evidence of the slave trade. The ceremony is part of this year's celebration of emancipation on the theme: “Our Heritage, Our Strength," and a sub-theme, "Honouring our African Heroes." The Reconciliation Ceremony is a rehearsal of the 2007 celebration of Emancipation where the ceremony would be done to climax the "Joseph Project," a programme aimed at facilitating the spiritual return of over 30 million Africans living in the Diaspora.

Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, addressing a durbar to precede the reconciliation ceremony said Ghana had started a movement towards the emancipation of Africa since no African is fully emancipated. "Africans are not yet free of our history, we will never be free if we do not come together as a people," he said, advising the gathering to see people from the Diaspora as brothers and sisters.

He said the people are the original “been-to” who left us because of the slave trade and have returned home to unite with a larger family.

The Minister said there was the need to create a situation where "we forgive one another for the wrongs done in the past and move ahead to develop Africa." "We need to enter the future with true love, a bond of friendship and freedom for each one and bring back the experiences and wealth of our brothers scattered all over the world to rebuild Ghana and Africa", he said.

Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey called for closer collaboration between Africans and those of African descent outside the continent to attract investment and development into Africa.

Nii Nortey Owuo III, Osu Manste, explained that the reconciliation ceremony was a formal attempt to make atonement for the part played by Africans in the infamous slave trade.

"Hopefully, we shall make a fresh start in our relations with you and all of the brothers and sisters in the Virgin Islands as well as the black communities in Americas and the Caribbean," he said.

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