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.

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