Year of the Return Ghana 2019 Checklist
In Washington, D.C., in September 2018, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo declared and formally launched the “Year of Return, Ghana 2019” for Africans in the Diaspora.
At that event, President Akufo-Addo said, “We know of the extraordinary achievements and contributions they [Africans in the diaspora] made to the lives of the Americans, and it is important that this symbolic year—400 years later—we commemorate their existence and their sacrifices.”
The paradox of being an African-American is that we occupy spaces where we are not considered citizens. So I love the idea of Ghana taking the lead to help African-Americans claim their ancestral space. The events include blockbuster festivals event shopping etc all year.
Are you getting excited!!!
Here is a multi-step checklist to get you ready for The Year of the Return 2019
Visa and Passport Information
Getting a Visa for this visit depends on your Nationality. It is very important that you start with your application once you’ve made up your mind about travelling and make sure your Visa does not expire while there.
You can apply for and get a Ghana visa from your nearest Ghanaian embassy or consulate. The application form is available at the Embassy’s website: www.ghanaembassydc.org (under a visa and consular affairs)
Ensure you have a current and Valid Passport, with an extended expiration date. Always make sure, your passport would not expire four months before the end your trip. It is advisable to make several Photocopies of your passport and Visa. This is a safety precaution, should you lose your passport or Visa.
Now for what to Pack!
1. Mosquito net
Unless you’re staying in an air-conditioned hotel while in Ghana or your volunteer/guest accommodations have one, it’s a good idea to bring your own mosquito net.
2. Malaria pills
As mentioned above, malaria is a serious disease, and it’s extremely important to bring your pills. (you are required to take them a few days before you arrive and a few days after.) Some side effects are of concern.
3. Insect repellent
Not to beat the malaria drum too loudly, but not getting bitten by mosquitoes in the first place is really the key. A high-end insect repellent will help with that.
4. Imodium, Advil/aspirin, etc.
Two words: Travelers’ Diarrhea Some pharmacies do not sell any pain relievers or other medications that westerners would be familiar with. Keep all of your Malaria prevention and toiletries safe in one waterproof bag.
5. Light, breathable clothing and a rain slicker.
The Ghanaian weather was hot and humid! There can be epic downpours: thunderstorms, wind, and great swaths of water. Apparently, in the dry season, that sort of thing doesn’t happen at all. Light, breathable and modest clothing is recommended, including shorts. Don’t forget a bathing suit if you’re travelling to the coast.
You’re in a tropical country and most days—even during the rainy season—are full sun!
7. Good walking shoes/sandals
I love Keens, so I brought my Keen walking sandals. Most days I wore my sandals, but I was thankful for my walking shoes especially when I went to Kakum National Park and hiked there. I recommend bringing flip-flops too because in most Ghanaian homes, it is polite to remove your outside shoes when entering and also, they are good for showers.
Kumasi and Kakum National Park, as well as the Cape Coast, have quite a few places to explore from markets—Kejetia in Kumasi—to hiking around the park. A good daypack that can hold the essentials is a great idea.
9. Bottled water
Ghana has a pretty unreliable water system, which means it is not safe to drink the water, not even when brushing your teeth. So it’s essential that you always have bottled water. Bring these easy to pack foldable reusable water bottles. Vendors also sell filtered water in small plastic bags.
Ghana mostly has the three-pronged, UK style outlets, so bring an adapter.
I took my iPad, which had a few digital books on it and was useful when there was the Internet. Most hotels will have WiFi, but if you’re staying in someone’s home, don’t expect it. I ended up buying a little WiFi router, which worked quite well for my iPad and iPhone.
12. An open mind and a great attitude about schedules
Don’t expect everyone to have the western style adherence to time. If someone says they’ll meet you at a particular time, don’t panic when they don’t arrive more than a half hour later. Learn to expect it.