In September 2018, when Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo declared 2019 the “Year of Return” for Africans in the Diaspora, a new spark was ignited to unite Africans on the continent with their brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. At the time, 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.”
However, what has since been demonstrated is that the Year of Return extends far beyond a finite milestone celebration. Most importantly, it has unearthed a realization among Africans and Diasporans of a need for stronger cultural and economic exchange and bridge-building to be continually cultivated and amplified – beyond the return – for the benefit of communities locally and globally.
From WACO’s transformational time in Ghana in December 2019 – whether being welcomed by the President and First Lady, to visiting heritage sites including the Cape Coast Castle Slave Dungeon, to participating in service projects to help empower the people of Ghana and more – everyone returned with new perspectives on how to continue the work and purpose to elevate African heritage and culture and connect Black people in the U.S. to others across the Diaspora and on the continent.
Via both the annual Wearable Art Gala and year-round programming, WACO is a prime vehicle to bring this objective forward – showing, sharing and curating the global evolution and influence of the African experience, contributions and culture, from the African continent to North America, South America, the Caribbean and beyond.