Pilgrimage to Ghana
Organized by: A. Anokwale Anansesemfo
EVENT DATE Mar 22, 2015
I am a national park ranger, griot, historian and lecturer of the African Diaspora in America. I work on the most northern, southern former slave plantation that the federal government owns and operates. My life's work and calling is to tell the trails, tribulations and triumphs of my ancestors to anyone that will listen.
I eat live and breath this stuff. I have a bachelor's degree in history, master's degree in art history and I am currently a fellow at George Washington University. All my studies are in the concentration of the African/African American history.I dress in period clothing and give voice to the people who help make this country great but have been in the shadows of American history.
Many people have told me that I should write a book pertaining to this time in history. It is my "shoot straight from the hip" style that people not only appreciate but leave with a sense of empathy. Numerous newspaper articles have been written about my tours and lectures. I was invited last year to speak at the Monticello's two day slavery conference. It was aired on CSPAN3. Many people were so moved by the presentation they came to visit the site where I work.
In the quest of identifying with and claiming the heritage and culture that was taken from my ancestors when they were brought to this hemisphere hundreds of years ago, I have legally changed my name.
Intuitively, I have had an affinity to the people of Ghana for many years. On January 1, 2014, an Akan priest gave me the name of Akua Anokwale Anansesemfo.
In the Akan tradition, one's first name is the day of the week he/she was born. I was born on a Wednesday (Akua). Anokwale (pronounced Ah no kwa lay) means "truth". This has been my griot/storyteller name. This is the name I wish to be called. My last name is Anansesemfo (Ah nan see sem fo). It is derived from the classic West African stories of Anansi the spider. It means "storyteller".
Four months ago I received my DNA results which confirmed my intuition. Even though I am a mixture of multiple ethnic groups, the dominant percentage (35%) is from the Ghanaian region.
It is one of my most greatest desires to visit the homeland of my ancestors. By doing so, I will have first hand knowledge of my origin. I plan to visit the slave castles and to walk the grounds my ancestors walked before going through the "door of no return." Also, I will travel with the Akan priest that gave me my name and go to the village where she is Queen Mother to assist with giving the basic needs of the children to further their education, i.e. school supplies, computers, etc.
It is my plan to not make this a one time trip. It is my desire to return to Ghana on an annual basis to help the people and deepen my knowledge of the culture that was taken away from me. I will write the book(s) and articles that so many people have asked me to write.
I am a single mother who is paying back student loans along with day to day expenses on a park ranger's salary. My dream of going to Ghana is illusive because of the lack of finances. However, I cannot let that stop me because I cannot imagine doing any other work than what I am doing now.