The year 2014 was filled with life changing adventures and educational opportunities for Roots to Glory Tours. We began the year 2014 with a trip to Cameroon. It was an experience that took us to 9 cities: Foumban, Douala, Limbe, Beua, Meua, Bana, Santa, Bamenda and Ngwo. Traveling with us were students from Ward 8 in Washington DC as well as students from Limbe, Cameroon. Our partners on the trip were the William Lockridge Foundation and the Agatha Foundation. It was a multi-generational trip.
In February we celebrated Black History month at the National Museum of African Arts as the Museum celebrated its 50th Anniversary. In June, we participated in the Juneteeth celebration in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the Colonies. It was two years after President Lincoln had given the Emancipation Proclamation speech that enslaved Africans in Texas found out that slavery had ended. June 19th continues to be a celebration of that day.
We held some web based classes on the history of the Krio of Sierra Leone, the history of Sierra Leone as it relates to the slave trade and the presence of the slave castle at Bunce Island. We also touched on the Tikar of Cameroon with an emphasis on the history of the Bamoun Kingdom. In addition, we were inspired by the story of the Gullah Gee Chee people of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
In July 2014, our adventures continued to South Caroline for the Gullah Gee Chee tour. We spent a few days in St Helena Island and Beaufort where we learned about the Penn Center, the Praise Houses on the plantations and also visited the house within the Penn Center used by Martin Luther King when he needed to escape the KKK. Our journey took us to Sullivan’s Island which was the site of disembarkment of more than 20% of the ships with human cargo from the shores of Africa. We continued to Charleston, South Carolina for a tour of the city. It was truly a memorable and emotional journey.
In August, we attended the 1619 Project in Hampton, Virginia. The 1619 Project commemorates the landing of the very first ship to land in the English speaking colonies with Africans on board who had been captured by pirates of a Portuguese vessel headed to South America.
In September, we coordinated a naming ceremony with several African-Americans who traced their DNA to the Bamileke tribe of Cameroon.
In October, we partnered with Tatou Vibes and Franco Records to put on a Concert for Ebola relief to raise awareness and funds for Doctors without Borders and International Medical Corps. The Concert for Ebola relief was a huge success. Artists from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Cameroon, USA, Trinidad, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria performed. The event was attended by the Ambassador of Central African Republic, representatives from the Cameroonian and Sierra Leonean Embassy.
In November, we traveled to Cameroon to take part in the 545th edition of the Nguon Festival in Foumban, West Cameroon. It was an experience of a lifetime. Four days of music, tradition, dancing, food, etc. The most memorable day was the day of the King’s Judgement when the King stood up in front of his people as a man to receive his critique of the way he is ruling his Kingdom. He was only allowed to sit on his throne after the leader of the Secret Society announced that his subjects would allow him to continue ruling for an additional 2 years until the next Nguon festival.
In December, Roots to Glory Tours was privileged to work with Expo on a project which brought a symphony orchestra from Baltimore Maryland, a Soprano from New York and a well-known Cameroonian musician to perform with Pygmies from South Cameroon at the Hilton in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
2015 promises to be even more adventurous.
In February, we will explore the history of the Fula, Mende, Temne, Bamileke, Tikar and the Gullah Geechee connection to West Africa.
In July we will again visit the Gullah Geechee people of South Carolina. We will explore Georgia a bit more and of course visit St Helena Island and stay at the Penn Center, the site of the very first school for freed Africans. We will also visit Sullivan’s Island and Charleston and once again eat lunch at the very famous Gullah restaurant in Charleston.
In September, we will have a naming ceremony in Baltimore. This will be a weekend long event that will begin in Silver Spring on a Friday evening; Saturday morning will be spent in Baltimore for the naming ceremony. We will visit the Smithsonian museum as well as other historic sites.
In October, we will visit Cape Verde as part of our African Island’s Tours. There is such much history in Cape Verde as it was used as a stopover for the Portuguese as they traveled with cargo from Africa to Europe. We will spend time visiting the major Islands as well as engaging with a local school to do a project with the children.
The year will conclude with a trip to Cameroon in December 2015. This trip will begin in Washington DC on December 26, 2015. We will travel to Douala, the slave port Bimbia, West Cameroon including Foumban, Bana and parts in between. We will end our journey at the beaches of Kribi before we make the journey back to the States.
We appreciate all those of you who support our efforts to reach out to those whose ancestors were taken from the Continent of Africa during the slave trade.
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On our bucket list for 2015-2016
Sierra Leone – Visit the Mende, Temne, Mandiga
The Gambia/Senegal/Black Paris – Visit the Fula, take part in the Roots Festival, take a tour of the “Black Paris” to better understand how Africans have influence the culture of the French
Madagascar – This is part of our effort to introduce the beautiful islands of Africa with their history and culture