Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Two Upcoming Opportunities to Visit Winneba, Ghana!

The Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation is pleased to announce that we are organizing two trips from Charlottesville to Winneba, Ghana in the coming months, scheduled around Winneba's two major annual festivals:

1) The first trip will depart on or about Dec. 29, 2021 and coincide with the Fancy Dress (Kakamotobi) Festival on New Year's Day 

2) The second trip will depart on or about May 2, 2022 and coincide with the Aboakyer Festival on the first Saturday in May 

Both trips will last approx. 10-12 days.  

If you, or anyone you know, would like more info. about these trips, please click here to view the Trip Info. Sheet.  Feel free to share this info with anyone you know who may be interested.  You do not have to be a Charlottesville city resident to participate in one of these trips.

For anyone who wants to learn more about these trips, the Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation will be holding a virtual Trip Information Session (via Zoom) on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021 from 7-8pm.  Zoom link is One of the many topics we will cover that evening is how travel to Ghana has been impacted by COVID, which we know is in the forefront of many people's minds right now.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact Dave Norris, Executive Director of the Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation, at or (434) 242-5165.  

We are excited to be heading back to Ghana again soon, and we hope that many of you will be able to join us!

Friday, March 6, 2020

Check Out Our New Video!

We are pleased to share with you this new promotional video for our Travel Scholarship Fund.  It's beautifully done (thanks to producer Clarence Green of Underground Shorts!) and both Don Gathers & Myra Anderson do a great job of explaining why financial support for travel scholarships makes for an excellent investment in our community.

Check it out! 

Friday, November 15, 2019

We Need Your Help!

There are 20 residents of Charlottesville who dream of visiting Africa in 2020, but many of them won’t be able to go unless we raise enough money for travel scholarships. The Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation has launched a campaign to raise $15,000 for our Travel Scholarship Fund. We’re two days into our fundraising campaign, and between GoFundMe donations and direct contributions we are already 20% of our way toward our goal! Will you please help? For more info., or to make a tax-deductible contribution, please visit  Thank you!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Special Announcement: Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation is Organizing TWO Trips to Winneba, Ghana in 2020. Sign up Now!

The Charlottesville-Winneba Foundation is organizing two trips to Winneba, Ghana for 2020, each limited to 30 travelers.  These "Our Roots, Our History" delegations provide a powerful and memorable opportunity to experience the vibrant culture and traditions of Charlottesville's Sister City of Winneba, and to understand the origins and history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, for which Ghana served as one of the primary transit points.

The trips will each center on one of Winneba's major annual cultural festivals - the Kakamotobi (Fancy Dress) Festival on New Year's Day, and the Aboakyer (Deer-Catching) Festival on the first Saturday in May.

For more details on on these upcoming group visits, including payment instructions, visit for a Trip Info Sheet.  Hope you can join us!

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!