I have posted below a lecture I wrote for week seven of my West African History course. The lecture is designed to take about 1 hour to deliver. It is about the subject of diaspora tourism in Ghana from the 1950s to the present.
This lecture is the first part of a two-part series that explores the rise of diaspora tourism in Ghana since the time of Kwame Nkrumah in the 1950s, and especially since the 1990s, when the Ghanaian government, under then president Jerry Rawlings, began a national campaign of diaspora tourism. This campaign was based on the so-called “Slave Castles” or “Slave Forts” of Elmina and Cape Coast. This lecture is intended to explore the context behind Ghana’s embrace of diaspora tourism. It traces that context to social and political upheavals of the 1950s and 1960s. In particular, we cover African decolonization, the rise of African History as an academic discipline, Transatlantic Civil Rights Movements, and the growth of Pan-Africanism. The lecture traces Ghana’s history of making overtures to diaspora communities, particularly African-Americans, from the 1950s to the present. We talk about how diaspora tourism in Ghana has been shaped by this audience–what African-American expatriates and tourism have demanded of this industry and how the Ghanaian government has attempted to meet and manage these demands.
This lecture sets up the second part of the series. In this part, we have a seminar on the question of how Ghanaians have responded to the rise of this diaspora tourism industry. The starting point for our discussion is the work of the anthropologist and historian Bayo Holsey. We read chapter 7 of her 2008 book Routes of Remembrace. The chapter is called “Navigating New Histories.” In it, Holsey draws upon an eight-year period of research in Ghana to “discuss reactions of Ghanaians who have been exposed to diaspora tourism to both the slave trade and to the notion of a transnational black community.” Her findings further highlight the complications and nuances of diaspora tourism in Ghana.