Monday, March 26, 2018

Please Help Us Fund Travel Scholarships for the Spring 2018 Charlottesville Delegation to Winneba!

A total of 56 Charlottesville residents will be traveling to Winneba from April 30-May 10, 2018 to explore the origins of slavery and the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.  There are no city tax dollars going toward this trip.  Travelers must pay out of pocket to participate, and there are some local residents who wish to go but cannot afford the cost.  The Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, has launched an online fundraising campaign to provide 10 full or partial travel scholarships for this amazing journey.  To read in their own words about why the scholarship recipients want to travel to Africa, or to help with a financial contribution toward this important cause, please see  All donations are fully tax-deductible and greatly appreciated!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Charlottesville Group to Travel to West Africa to Explore the Origins of Slavery

Charlottesville, VA, 1/15/18: The Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation, a non-profit organization which supports mutually-beneficial collaborations between the international Sister Cities of Charlottesville, USA and Winneba, Ghana, has announced that it will be organizing a delegation of Charlottesville-area residents and community leaders to visit Winneba in spring of 2018. The primary focus of this trip, which is the fifth official delegation from Charlottesville to visit Winneba since this Sister City partnership was established in 2009, will be to explore the origins of slavery and the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Ghana was one of the main transit points for the slave trade and has done a remarkable job of preserving the history of that horrific era. 

A general interest meeting for anyone who may wish to participate in this trip will take place on Tuesday, January 30, at 7:00pm in the McIntire Room on the 3rd floor of the downtown library. 

“The debate over the Confederate war monuments in our city parks has obviously been a deeply divisive one,” says Dave Norris, former Charlottesville Mayor and co-founder of the Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation. “Having said that, there seems to be broad agreement among people on all sides of that debate that Charlottesville needs to do more to memorialize the slave experience in our community. Enslaved African-Americans constituted 52% of our local population at the outbreak of the Civil War and played a major role in building this city and its university, but the only public acknowledgement of their existence here in the city is a small and easily-overlooked sidewalk plaque at the site of the slave auction block in Court Square. We hope this trip will inspire folks in the community to do more to tell their story and honor their memory.” 

Newly-elected Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker will be leading the delegation to Winneba. Approx. travel dates are April 29-May 10, 2018. As part of the trip, participants will visit a series of historical sites relating to the slave trade and speak with Ghanaian historians and folklorists about the history, economics and societal impacts of slavery. Group members will also have a chance to experience the vibrant culture of modern-day Ghana, including participation in Winneba’s internationally-renowned Aboakyer Festival. This annual event features three days of music, dancing, marching, drumming, local cuisine and colorful rituals, along with a lively competition where ceremonial Asafo warrior groups go out into the bush to catch and bring home a live deer. Cost per person to participate in the trip will be $2,000, which includes airfare, travel visa, ground transportation, lodging and meals. The Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation is hoping to raise funds to provide several full or partial travel scholarships for individuals who wish to participate but cannot afford to pay out of pocket. 

For more information, please contact Dave Norris at or (434) 242-5165.

Friday, January 20, 2017

New Year's in Winneba

From Dec. 27, 2016 to January 12, 2017, Dave Norris, former Mayor of Charlottesville and current Executive Director of the Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation, took a solo trip to Charlottesville's Sister City of Winneba, Ghana to advance several initiatives of mutual benefit to Charlottesville and Winneba.  What follows are a few photos and recollections from that trip.


There are two things you should know about how Ghanaians celebrate the turn of a New Year.

Watch Night service at
Anglican church in Winneba
First is that New Year's Eve in Ghana is primarily a time for church-going, not for partying.  They call Dec. 31 "Watch Night," and starting around 8pm, all the churches are packed.  The worship service goes on for hours, and the singing, praying and dancing become more and more impassioned as midnight nears.  Around 11:45pm, all the lights in the sanctuary are turned off.  A very intense prayer session follows in the dark.  At the strike of midnight, the lights are thrown back on and the praise music roars to a crescendo.  After a few minute of fervent thanksgiving and jubilation, the churches empty out and everyone makes their way home.  Watch Night is also commonly known as "Crossover," and everyone who attends the service is deemed to have cleansed their souls as they crossed over into the New Year.                              

Fancy Dress Festival 2017
Second, at least in Winneba, is that New Year's is a time for masquerading.  On January 1 (or the following day, if Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday, as it did this year), Winneba hosts a massive Fancy Dress Festival (or Kakamatobi, in the local tongue) in which hundreds of townspeople get decked out in elaborate costumes and stage uproarious performances before thousands of onlookers in one of Winneba's main squares. A group of 24 UVa students & faculty on a McIntire School of Commerce study tour of Ghana were able to spend the day in Winneba and experience this year's Fancy Dress Festival. Despite the heat, a good time was had by all. Stilt-walkers, brass bands, drummers, jesters, acrobats and more...the carnival goes on for hours, with four teams of masqueraders vying for top honors.  It's a long-running tradition with some pretty interesting roots.

Why did the Ghanaian 
chicken cross the road?  
To escape the Harmattan.
It's impossible to talk about New Year's in Ghana without mentioning the weather.  On top of the typical high temperatures that one encounters in Ghana (80s and 90s every day), January in Ghana is dry season.  In my two weeks in Ghana, I did not see one drop of rain.  I did experience the dreaded Harmattan though.  Harmattan is a sandstorm that originates in the Sahara Dessert and sweeps down to the Gulf of Guinea and leaves everything in its wake covered in a thin sheath of dust.  The air is thick and hazy and everything feels desiccated.  

Weather conditions aside, it was a delightful journey and a wonderful way to usher in the New Year!

Monday, July 6, 2015

UVa School of Architecture Presentation -- "Winneba: Lagoon City"

Over the past year, Prof. Nancy Takahashi of the UVa School of Architecture, along with several other colleagues from Ghana, the U.S. and the U.K., has been working on an interdisciplinary environmental protection/sustainable development project in Charlottesville's Sister City of Winneba, Ghana. This Friday, July 10, the group will present a project overview and discuss their initial findings. Open to the public.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Please Join! March 26 Reception & Silent Auction to Benefit Winneba Trip

Please mark your calendars and plan to join us for a special event to strengthen ties between Charlottesville and our Sister City of Winneba, Ghana.

On Thursday, March 26, from 5:00-6:30pm at Feast! (416 West Main St.), the Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation is holding a reception & silent auction to raise funds for an upcoming trip by a Charlottesville community delegation to Winneba in May. Enjoy some tasty refreshments, see some friendly faces and place your bid on some lovely auction items! There is no cost to attend.

Many thanks to the amazingly talented artists and other generous donors who contributed items for our silent auction! Items up for bid on Thursday will include:

* Painting by Lee Halstead
* Pottery by Nancy Ross
* Painting by Darrell Rose
* Silkscreen print by Maryanna Williams
* Artwork by Megan LeBoutier
* Lap quilt of East African fabrics made by Margie Shepherd
* Photograph by John Shepherd
* Angora hand knit hat by Pat Harder
* Collection of African-themed books by Nancy Damon, longtime director of Va. Festival of the Book
* Books from Va. Festival of the Book authors
...and more!

The menu for Thursday's reception has now been announced! Many thanks to the fabulous staff at Feast! for preparing this delicious spread:

* Antipasto Platter: pickled veggies, olives, salami, prosciutto, pate and cheese
* Virginia ham biscuits: local sweet potato biscuits, chutney, VA ham
* Goats on a Date: dried dates stuffed with local goat cheese and marcona almonds
* Shabooboos: pickled peppadew peppers stuffed with our pimento cheese
* Combination of Albemarle baking company cookies and local peanut butter balls

(Complimentary non-alcoholic drinks will also be available, in addition to a cash bar for wine & beer.)

At the event, we'll also be debuting a short film created by Brian Wimer of Amoeba Films that will accompany a major Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for the Winneba Library Project, to launch that same day. You won't want to miss it.

Thanks and hope to see you on the 26th! Please feel free to invite friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, etc. The more the merrier.

p.s. If anyone has any items of value to contribute to the silent auction on March 26, or if you know of an artist or businessperson who might be willing to make a contribution, we would be MOST grateful for the support. Margie Shepherd has agreed to serve as our silent auction coordinator (thanks Margie!) so please contact her at to arrange for the donation. (The Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization, so donations are tax-deductible.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Come to Ghana in 2015 and Connect with History

One of the many reasons that Charlottesville chose to have Winneba, Ghana as our first (and still only) non-European Sister City is that Ghana was the transit point for millions of African slaves, through slave castles like Elmina (just up the coast from Winneba). Many Charlottesville residents can trace their ancestry to or through Ghana as a result. Ghana has done a very good job of preserving and telling the tragic story of the slave trade (arguably, better than we have done here in America) and if you ever get a chance to visit Ghana and tour a place like Elmina, the memories of that experience will stay with you forever. 

Speaking of which, we are currently planning another Charlottesville community delegation to Winneba, tentatively planned for April 29-May 9, 2015. Elmina will be one of many stops on the delegation's itinerary. If you would like to join us for this trip, or just want to learn more about the trip, please join us for a planning meeting this Sunday, Jan. 25 from 1-2pm in the McIntire Room on the 3rd floor of the central library downtown (201 E. Market St.). Open to one and all, you don't have to be a resident of the City of Charlottesville to participate. If you can't make the meeting on Sunday but would like to be kept in the loop about plans for the trip, please contact Dave Norris at or (434) 242-5165.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Charlottesville Teens Present $1,000 Check for Winneba Reading Program

Earlier today (July 2, 2014), the Teen Advisory Board for Jefferson-Madison Regional Library presented a $1,000 check to Nana Ghartey and the Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation to support a new after-school reading program in Winneba, Ghana.  The teens raised the funds with a book-reading competition this summer.  "This will go a long way to help these under privileged school kids in Winneba to read," said Ghartey.  "Please help me to say a big thank you to the teens.  God richly bless them."