I think it is safe to say that everyone was in Ghana in December during the Year of Return. I attended a number of events during the holiday season, including Decemba2Rememba, Afrochella, The Black Gala, African Royalty Night, The Polo Beach Club, and Plantain Fest. In this video, I share my feedback on the events that stood out to me and give tips on how to leverage Beyond the Return.
So, let’s dive in deeper.
The CirqMixer is the first event I mention in the video. I was really excited about this event because it focused more on dialogue and connection. At the beginning of the event, they had a variety of icebreakers. First, they had a map of the world. We had to use three different color pins to show where we were born, where we studied or worked, and where we live now. Looking at the map, it was so cool to see how Africa’s diaspora almost represents every part of the world. The next icebreaker was bingo. We had to ask guests if they had certain skills or experiences to fill the bingo boxes. The type of traits listed included living abroad, speak 3 Ghanaian languages, drive in Ghana, etc. This activity lead to chatting with different people with interesting stories of what they are doing outside of vacationing in Ghana. The main activity was kind of like speed networking. Each guest had to choose three categories out of socializing, creativity, social impact, living in Ghana, and business in Ghana. There was a table for each category with a panel of individuals who spoke on the subject. We had 30 minutes at each table. Then everyone gathered in the middle space of the venue to discuss identity.
Like I said in the video, I really loved the concept of this event and hope they continue to expand with it. The biggest suggestion I would make is taking extra note on who to invite to be on panels or direct activities. I got the sense, in my experience and from other guests, that throughout the different directed conversations, guests did not really learn anything new. The conversations that started naturally during intermission as people mixed and mingled seemed more enjoyable.
Plantain Fest was delicious. I really enjoyed my food and the way the set up the event. In spite of the heat, they managed to create an enjoyable space. Make sure to watch the video above for more details and clips.
The Black Gala was nice and has a lot of potential. I loved the concept of having a high fashion event focused on Afrofuturism that also promotes local art. The venue was the Museum of Science and Technology. They set up a variety of photo booths as well as displayed artwork. They also had a silent disco with an awesome playlist by SoundHive. Seating include mini couches and stools to encourage mingling and moving around. Later they also hosted an art auction.
Like I said in the video, I was really looking forward to this event. I even got a dress made for the theme…because you know how much I love Afrofuturism. The main suggestion I would make is to put more effort on the activities and entertainment. Even though the decor was lovely and the displays were nice, I could walk through and admire them in less than 10 minutes. After that, what are your guests supposed to do? There was a bit of a wait until the event officially started. Guests really made an effort to dress up, and some left before the event started due to waiting too long. It was obvious guests wanted to have a reason to mingle more and interact. However, the music was too loud, acoustics were not pleasant, and there was no real ice breaker to get people moving. Also, the attempt to control the temperature in the museum was ineffective. This made it uncomfortable for guests who dressed up expecting to not sweat. There is also so much more that could have been done with the Afrofuturism theme. From entertainment, to artwork, to food, to activities. I do hope they host it again. It was one of the more elegant events for the December season.
Afrochella was the event everyone was talking about. My favorite part was standing in line and seeing all the celebration of blackness from all over the world. It was so colorful, fun, and empowering to see so many of us come together to support celebrating our culture. That was awesome. After getting in, I will admit I was disappointed. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I felt like I had arrived when the first shift had closed and the second shift had yet to set up. The crowd around me seemed to have the same feeling. We waited for a while, first standing and later finding some seats, for the show to start. Finally, after seeing the MC’s and the back of Tina Knowles head, we left the stadium. So, I did not get to enjoy the concert.
I know a lot of effort was put into Afrochella and it really paid off. The main suggestion I would make is to have a real agenda and schedule for the event. Also, stick to the schedule. That stadium is not a place to hang out all day if there are no activities to keep you occupied outside of taking pictures. I am looking forward to more of the events they host outside of the main concert. I think I have come to prefer more intimate sized gatherings.
The Polo Beach Club for New Year’s Eve was the best event of the season. The decor was great, the mix was awesome, the customer service was on point, and the vibe was fabulous. It was the only event that really felt like a good party. The type where you can really dance. So, the day before the event I went to Labadi Beach Hotel to purchase a table. This is one thing I learned during the season of activities. Purchasing a regular ticket online for any event meant you get in, but won’t get a seat. Which is different from shows or events I am used to: regardless of your ticket type, you can enjoy the show.
Anyways, I met with the organizers who were setting up. They were very knowledgeable, polite, and helpful. I chose the location of my table and purchased it on the spot. They also had a proper website and social media presence illustrating all the information you needed. At the event, my table was ready, we had a dedicated server take our order, and one of the organizers checked on us periodically. They made you feel like you were really being taken care of. As if all you need to focus on is to have a good time. The guests were more of a mixture of Diasporans and Africans from outside of Ghana. They were all so generous of spirit. Dancing with strangers and hyping each other up while wishing each other a happy new year. It was really wholesome. I have not been to a party that fun in a long time. I was really impressed.
An African Royalty Night was beautiful. One of the more elegant events, it featured a round-table dinner and fabulous decor. The MC, Mawuli Gavor, did a nice job keeping the guests engaged. The DJ, Nana Kwabena, had the smoothest mix I heard in the entire December in Ghana holiday season. It was lovely. The main suggestion I would make is also to have a time schedule to stick to so that guests know what to expect.
Overall, I am really glad I took the time to experience December in Ghana during the Year of Return. The Diaspora really answered the call and showed up to celebrate. I really hope this increase in interest and exposure leads to even more benefits for Ghana and its Diaspora.
How did you spend your holiday season? Were you in Ghana? How did you spend your time? Let me know in the comments.