BTR: The Birth of It!
I was born LaMont Evans in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), never in my wildest imagination coming from where I have been would I have imagined being Coronated Nana Kwame Sam I – Sanaahene, Obaatan Division – Nkusukum Amansie Mankessim in Ghana’s Central Region on May 4, 2019. It was an honor and a 50th birthday gift from the Obaatan Division. Tell me this: what African American child grows up to think or believe he will be a Chief in an African country?
My first trip to Ghana was August 2004, I was serving as a Consultant to assist in developing a community organization in Warababa (Winneba). Interestingly enough, Warababa means “one day you will come” and boy did I tear up when I first heard that. The moment I touched African soil, I knew my life would never be the same. The people. The love. The food. The freedom.
Growing up in the United States, all we knew were white Presidents until Barack H. Obama, Jr. was elected in 2008. So, when I was in my hotel room in 2004 and I heard the news announce “We are about to hear from His Excellency John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor…” imagine to my surprise when I looked up and saw a Black Man, a Black Parliament, Black Military, Black Police, just Black everybody on the TV screen. The tears begin to flow again.
In December 2019, I took my 14th trip to Ghana, the Year of Return for many, but a serious visit for me to open an office for my company (mojaevans Consulting) and non governmental organization (Healthy Black Communities, Inc.), hire staff, buy furniture and tend to my duties as the Sanaahene (Sanaahene is the title given to the leader of warriors in a traditional area. The title is used primarily in Ghana and is given to a traditional ruler who is considered capable of leading the warring groups of the area. The Sanaahene is mandated to aid the Paramount Chief of an area in the performance of his duty. In the Central Region of Ghana, the Sanaahene has oversight over the Asafo group). Obaatan Divison implies that this is a Divisional Chief position with sub-chiefs under me.
Once it dawned on me and Francis Osei Sarpong (Ghana National Director) who runs the company and NGO when I am not there and sometimes when I am there, that we needed to know what to do on the other side of the Year of Return, this project was birthed. Beyond The Return: Reclaiming the African Disapora! is not only a website, it is a tour company that serves to primarily help African Americans, both individuals and groups looking to visit Ghana, have an authentic experience that includes the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, but also how Ghana has evolved and is ready to welcome home those who choose to visit again or consider moving to the country.
It is my honor and privilege to be a part of those in the African Diaspora to welcome you home to Ghana. It is my sincere hope that you will consider visiting the country or coming back once COVID-19 is under control and take a deep breathe. It’s the oxygen of the Ancestors in the air waiting for us to come back home.