Ello, I'm Barbara - a political activist living in the UK, working with minority communities on sexual and reproductive health, who has been operating an ethical and political clothing line, called Sassy Apparel since 2015.
The horrendous racism I faced and the sexism I experienced when I moved from Ghana to the UK 13 years ago, politicised me.
I have spent the last seven years doing anti-racist work, strengthening Black liberation resolve and speaking out against sexism among many other things. From leading the National Union of Students one million Black students membership, to speaking about racism and sexism on Channel 4 News.
I have been invited to host a political discussion entitled “A Conversation on the Politics and Realities in Ghana and the Year of Return” featuring artists and activists living in Ghana and from the Diaspora.
It has become increasingly clear to me that it is critical to build dialogue in Ghana with Ghanaians and the Diaspora that creates the conditions in which people do not feel the need to accept things as they are. This is all about empowerment and inspiration - it was events like this that got me involved as a young person! Now I want to pass on the baton!
I am raising money to cover the cost if my flight, as it is particularly high due to the Year of Return demand.
This conversation is timely given that Ghana has declared 2019 as The Year of Return, for Africans in the Diaspora and Ghana too to mark 400 years since the first enslaved African arrived in Jamestown Virginia.
Despite much celebrated economic growth, Ghana is still a difficult place economically, socially and politically for the millions who call it home. This year, when law students protested against the unfair legal education system, they were met with heavy handed policing, rubber bullets and water canons. When the BBC revealed in #SexForGrades, an undercover investigation, that lecturers at universities where sexually harassing and assaulting female students, the Ghanaian media gave the perpetrators a platform to defend their actions and blame female students.
Whilst in the Diaspora, Black people continue to face racist discrimination that impacts all aspects of their lives, from housing to education and the jobs market. Black people are over policed as citizens and there is no accountability for the violence we experience.
The panellist and audience will discuss how relevant the Year of Return is to Ghanaians and what the realities are of living in Ghana and in the Diaspora. If the idea of returning is as simple as the Year of Return would like us to believe, will this damage relations between the two groups and is the Diaspora looking to return to avoid racism?