You are in Ghana. You are trying to find and create home. There is a plethora of hotels and lodgings yet you need a place to stay, and not just any place, a family and network of people to hold and support you while you transition and try to make Ghana home. This is where Palace Afrika places itself. Situated at Oyarifa, on the highway towards the Aburi mountains and about 40minutes away from Kotoka International Airport, Palace Afrika is a family lodge created by Prince Agbemble to facilitate that integral process of Diasporan connection and re-integration to Ghana.
When one gets to Palace Afrika, one is drawn into the lodge by the bright colours adorning the walls. A network of plants carefully planted and placed in pots adds to the rich colourful tapestry of the space. A testament to Afrikan cultures also is depicted in the bas-relief sculptures emanating from the walls. Living spaces sit on either side of the facility allowing for a courtyard space which hosts the central kitchen and a communal eating space serving as its spine. It is here, Prince invites people to come host their events in the spirit of ubuntu. Should one decide to stay, the lodge has rooms designed for various needs. There are apartments in the lodge should one come as a group. The apartments hosts two bedrooms with toilets and baths, a living area and a kitchen. Single rooms with toilets and baths are also featured as well as a studio apartment and a gym. One will be amazed how a single plot of land is able to host all these which stand in testament to Prince’s creativity.
In a country where many would feel the need to leave to seek greener pastures, Prince is always keen to share his story which is quite the opposite. Having spent a copious amount of time outside the shores of Ghana, Prince decided to return and create something in Ghana, his land of birth. He expresses quite gleefully “Many people think I made my money outside. No, I made my money here” meaning Ghana. Prince upon returning to Ghana managed a few gyms in Accra as well as trained a few personal clients. It is from this venture he made his money to create Palace Afrika which now seeks to help others who move find their foot in the country. For Prince, he wants to see more of Diaspora returnees move out of Accra and create opportunities in other areas other than the capital.
The Director of Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Akwasi Awua-Ababio honoured an invitation by Prince and met with him, musician Zakisha Brown and a few sisters from the Diaspora in the lodge over a delightful vegan meal prepared by Chef Imara at the lodge. In hearty conversations, Mr. Ababio amongst many other things expressed his gratitude to Prince for creating such a space to support the Diaspora. Other returnees who had stayed and were staying at the lodge expressed similar sentiments about how homey and helpful staying at the lodge has been.
To sum up, let me quote Nana Patrice Lumumba’s words which is emboldened on the wall of one of the bedrooms in Palace Afrika. It says “Afrikan unity and solidarity are no longer dreams. They must be expressed in Decisions” and Palace Afrika is such a spatial family decision created by us and for us.
Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President hosted a High Profile Delegation from eSwatini on 7th June, 2021 in the Auditorium at Jubilee House. The team made up of government officials from eSwatini were led by Ms. Jennifer Neves, Under Secretary – Administration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to learn about Ghana’s strategies towards effective mobilising of the Diaspora.
Welcoming the team to Jubilee House, the Director of Diaspora Affairs Mr. Akwasi Awua-Ababio mentioned the Diaspora was a huge asset and the biggest asset any country has outside of its shores. Thus it was important to effectively strategise to leverage this resource in ways which are mutually beneficial. He further elaborated some ways which Ghana has engaged the Diaspora including the Diaspora Roadshow events and the Homecoming Summit.
Ms. Jennifer Neves also shared the excitement of the team as they were learning a lot in Ghana and mentioned her team was eager to go back home and apply many things they have learnt from Ghana.
In an engaging question and answer session, some issues which arose included how Ghana has been able to manage the trust deficits between home countries and their Diaspora to which Mr. Ababio responded it was important to at all times utilise consultations and stakeholder engagements to allow for the Diaspora to feel included in governance and policy formulation. Moreover, there were discussions around the operations of the Office as well as how to effectively collate a comprehensive database of one’s diaspora.
Deputy-Director, Mad. Nadia Adongo Musah also shared some of the work Diaspora Affairs has done thus far and encouraged the team to push to have their Diaspora champion causes for their Diaspora.
On Tuesday, 1st June 2020, the Diaspora Affairs Office led by Deputy-Director Nadia Adongo Musah led a team from the Diaspora to pay a courtesy call on former President H.E. J.A. Kuffour in his home at Peduase. Inclusive in the team were music artist Zakisha Brown, her mom, Victor, his wife and their kids.
Zakisha Brown shared her admiration for the ex-President and expressed her appreciation for his contribution in ensurng that she and many from the Diaspora now feel welcome in Ghana. Victor also thanked the ex-President for his contributions towards climate action and invited the ex-President to be a part of a global conversation on climate action.
H.E. J.A. Kuffour also shared his appreciation towards the Diaspora Affairs Office for the engagements witht the Diaspora and mentioned to the Diasporan team that he is happy to be part of any project which centers mankind as that is his priorty.
The visit forms a part of the Diaspora engagement by Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President and ensuring the Diaspora who move to Ghana feel welcome in the country.
On Tuesday, 1st June 2021, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Inaugrated a national committee to steer the agenda and events of Beyond the Return. The event was held in the Banquet Hall of the Jubilee House.
The 15-member committee will be co-chaired by the Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Dr. Ibrahim Awal and Minister for Finance Ken Ofori-Atta. Other members of the committee are Minister for Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako – Atta, Director of Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President, Akwasi Awua Ababio, Assistant Commissioner of Immigration (ACI) Edith Penelope Arhin, Regional Commander for the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), Representative of the Ghana Tourism Federation, Madam Stella Appenteng and Professor Esi Sutherland Addy, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Yofi Grant, Private sector representative, Kwame Acheampong Boateng, Media Majique’s Reginald Laryea, Rabbi Kohain of the Diaspora Coalition, Mrs. Worwornyo Agyeman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Dominic Afriyie Agyemang of the Ministry of Interior and a representative of the Ghana Tourism Authority to be determined.
Spelling out their mandate at the Inaugration, H.E. Akufo-Addo charged members of the committee to design and implement effective strategies to boost trade, encourage tourism and remove constraints which hinders tourism activities in places in Ghana.
Founded on 7 pillars, ‘Beyond the Return’ ‘A Decade of African Renaissance’ is a 10-year project building on the success of the “Year of Return” to grow Ghana’s tourism industry, showcase its investment potential, and solidify its Diaspora engagement programs.
The RUNWAY GHANA team paid a courtesy call on Mr. Akwasi Awua Ababio, the Director of Diaspora Affairs on Wednesday 26th May 2021. The meeting, held at his office in the Jubilee House, Accra was to officially introduce the brand RUNWAY GHANA to the Office and also to establish a business
relationship between RUNWAY GHANA and the Diaspora Office. Founded in 2016, RUNWAY GHANA brings together stakeholders in the fashion industry including models, fashion designers and customers to collaborate, and share ideas on how to make the industry better and beneficial for everyone involved.
“The main goal for RUNWAY GHANA is to build a sustainable fashion business in the long term coupled with building global fashion mentors out of [Ghana’s] local fashion homes. This we have demonstrated and showcased to the world by bringing all fashion stakeholders on one platform and have further built direct relationships between clothing companies, models, fashion designers and their customers locally and on the international front,” remarked Mr. Wisdom Akwesi Ababio, CEO of RUNWAY GHANA while extending his appreciation for the meeting.
Responding, Mr. Akwasi Awua Ababio assured RUNWAY GHANA of the support of the Office of Diaspora Affairs. He also shared his excitement towards the initiative which is determined to boost the textile industry.
The team from RUNWAY GHANA further presented an achievement award to Mr. Akwasi Awua Ababio honouring him for his contribution towards the merging and the business sustainability of Ghanaian fashion through Diaspora engagement.
The annual event is set to showcase Ghanaian fashion, music and art through its enactment of social, cultural and economic initiatives including Buy Ghana and Wear Ghana. Other activities planned for this year includes New York Fashion Week as well as a workshop to educate participants on business opportunities in the fashion industry while shedding light on the fashion industry and emerging fashion designers through a collaborative catwalk and exhibition.
The 28th of April, 2021 saw the Director of Diaspora Affairs, Akwasi Awua Ababio pay a working visit to the office of Complete Farmer in East Legon, Accra. This followed a visit by the founder Desmond Koney to the Jubilee House a week prior to introduce his platform to the Office. Complete Farmer founded by Ghanaian, Desmond Koney is an end to end digital agriculture platform which enables industries across the globe to source for agriculture commodities and also allows for individuals to participate in the agriculture value chain. The company is made up of a pan African team of young professionals from engineering, business, agronomy, finance and marketing backgrounds.
Giving Mr. Ababio a tour of their office, Desmond Koney explained how the platform works. Users sign up on the website and select which crops they would want to farm as well as the acreage, all from the comfort of being behind their digital devices. With over 12,000 acres of farm cultivation across Ghana, Complete Farmer takes this request and outsources the farming project to their farmers, about 350 in number. Farms are selected and cultivated on based on extensive research and data to ensure high quality yield. The platform uses satelites and sensors allowing for users to view and get comprehensive updates on their farms at any place and at any point in time. Upon harvest, users are notified. The platform not only includes farmers but a buyer market place as well. Thus, users are assured of buyers and can also determine how many bags they would want to sell and to whom. Complete Farmer currently ships high quality agriculture produce to the Netherlands, Germany, China, India, Sinagapore and United Arab Emirates. The platform currently farms soy beans, maize, ginger, carrots, sweet potatoes, chilli pepper, groundnuts, cassava, sesame seeds and pineapple.
The Director of Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Ababio commended Desmond Koney and his team for instituting such an initiative in agriculture. As this initiative also intersects with the Government of Ghana’s drive to encourage agriculture, Mr. Ababio assured Desmond Koney of support from the Government. He also mentioned the platform is an initiative which can be recommended to people in the diaspora as it will allow for those not in Ghana to be able to invest in farming without being here. Moreover, those in the country who would want to get into farming but do not want to get into the physical act could also take advantage of the platform. Mr. Ababio further assured Complete Farmer of the support and future engagement with Diaspora Affairs to introduce the platform to members of the Diaspora.
Queen Afua and her wellness team paid a visit to the presidency on 24th March, 2020 upon the invite of the Director of Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Akwasi Awua Ababio. Arriving with her entourage, they were ushered in the conference room where they met with the Director, Deputy Director Mad. Nadia Adongo Musah, Presidential Advisor on Health Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Deputy Chief of Staff Emmanuel Adumua-Bossman and staff of Diaspora Affairs.
Mad. Nadia welcomed and introduced those present. Queen Afua shared her appreciation towards the reception she had received on her visit to Ghana. This she mentioned has touched her that she will be bringing with her in August during her birthday about 100 people from the Diaspora for a wellness event. She further shared her intentions of setting up a Global Centre for Wellness in Ghana where healing will be done holistically and with herbs. She went on to introduce some of her products to officials present and signed her books making a presentation to the officials present.
The Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr. Nsiah-Asare expressed his pleasure in meeting Queen Afua and her team. He lauded Queen Afua’s intentions to set up a Wellness Centre in Ghana noting the need for a more holistic approach to health issues. For the Deputy Chief of Staff, Adumua-Bossman the presence of Queen Afua and her intention to set up a wellness was a benefit accrued from the Year of Return. He further assured Queen Afua of the Government of Ghana’s support to enable Queen Afua fulfill her intentions.
Members of Queen Afua’s wellness team also shared their appreciation towards the reception they had received thus far and were looking forward to the spiritual journey ahead of them as they set out to visit various places in Ghana.
In preparation for the newly appointed Ambassadors and High Commisioners to represent Ghana abroad, the DIrector of Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President Mr. Akwasi Awua Ababio was invited to make a presentation on the topic “Diaspora Engagement for Development” on Wednesday, 14th April, 2021 at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in the Dr. Obed Asamoah Conference Room.
The Director during his submission reiterated the importance of the Diaspora to Ghana as they carry powerful assets which when harnessed can help transform the nation. Mr. Awua further highlighted the important role the Office of Diaspora Affairs plays in ensuring there is a framework which can be structured and instituted to allow the country effectively engage and include the Diaspora in nation building. Moreover, the Office he mentioned was working with the National Identification Authority to make a database of Ghanaians living in the Diaspora.
As a result, he shared with the newly appointed envoys the Diaspora Engagement Policy which is in the pipeline, a comprehensive document which had been compiled following stakeholder consultations in various countries including the United States, France, Germany, U.K., Canada and Nigeria. Mr. Ababio urged the Ambassadors and High Commisioners designates to make it a point to reach out to the Ghanaian Diaspora and to make Ghana a place of interest for them not only to move back but at the very least invest in financially. The historical Diaspora was not left out of the discussion. Here, Mr. Ababio mentioned the country may have to in the forseeable future develop an orientation programme to better manage the expectations of all those who desire to return or move to Ghana.
In an engaging question and answer session with the newly appointed envoys, some issues raised included: addressing issues of irregular migrations; ensuring Ghanaians in the diaspora can vote; dual citizenship; and an appeal to have the country be cautious in how it deals with the identities of others who have been called to return to Ghana. An appeal was also made to have Diaspora Affairs work closely with Ghana’s missions abroad.
Mr. Ababio further briefed the Designates on the Year of Return, its successes and challenges and further highlighted the Beyond the Return agenda.
As part of her visit to Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President Canadian-born Jamaican artist Zakisha Brown met with the Deputy Director, Nadia Adongo Musah. In this meeting, Zakisha responding to the Deputy Director shared her reasons for moving to Ghana expressing the affinity which her mom and her found Ghana during the Year of Return 2019. Moreover, the love and support she received from people in Ghana towards her and her music has been phenomenal which has moved her to come produce her debut album in the country as well as film the visuals.
The Deputy Director acknowledged the creative arts as integral to the Return of the Diaspora which Ghana had called out for and shared the immense opportunities which exist and can be tapped into in Ghana. Nadia further encouraged Zakisha to incorporate the beautiful scenery in Ghana into her music videos and in doing so must also place emphasis on the Northern parts of the country which also encapsulates a beautiful and critical story of our past rarely told.