DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – Looking for the origin of their grandparents, African descendants in Diaspora are planning a meeting in Tanzania late October this year in a mission to explore the ancestral origins of their great grandparents.
In their historic gathering during the International African Diaspora Heritage Trail (ADHT) conference, first ever to be held in the African continent, delegates from various countries, mostly in North and South America and Europe, will meet in Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam to explore and discuss historical backgrounds of their great grand parents’ ancestral continent.
Previous four ADHT gatherings have been organized and held outside Africa.
It is anticipated that over 200 people of the African origin are expected to make a historic journey to Africa to explore various places in Tanzania where their grand parents have been shipped to slavery in other continents outside Africa.
Officials from the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), one among the conference organizers, told eTN that the conference to be held from October 25 to 30 will mark the return to Africa, people of African descent from other parts of the world.
Jointly with other tourist stakeholders, TTB is planning to host and carry out unforgettable programs and events including tours and visits showcasing the vast heritage tourism products and historic potentials which Tanzania has been sharing with other African nations.
With a theme: “An African Homecoming: Exploring the Origins of the African Diaspora and Transforming Cultural Heritage Assets into Tourism Destinations,” the conference participants are expected to broadening their knowledge on Africa that would help them to protect African Diaspora traditions and legacy found in communities they originated, organizers said.
Most delegates are expected from the United States of America, United Kingdom, South and West Africa, Switzerland, Latin America and the Caribbean islands of Bermuda, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica, Martinique and St. Lucia.
A highlight of the ADHT conference will be the official launching of Tanzania’s new heritage trail, to be named “The Ivory and Slave Route,” organizers said. “This route provides a first-ever journey to sites, towns, and terrain retracing the Arab Slave Trade in Tanzania and East Africa where more than five million Africans were captured, enslaved, and shipped to the Middle East, India, Asia, and the West, many perishing before reaching their final destination,” a ADHT conference organizer told eTurbo News.
Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Shamsa Mwangunga said the conference will help to preserve the global presence and cultural influence of people of African descent and contribute this knowledge to the world stage of history, culture and contemporary affairs. “I appreciate the efforts of the ADHT to bring together people from all over the world to identify places and phenomenon behind them in order to conserve, document and preserve the cultural influence of the African people,” she said.
From the slave markets of Bagamoyo (translated: Point of Despair) to the slave chambers of Mangapwani Beach in Zanzibar, delegates will be able to witness and trace the barbarity of slavery and celebrate the struggle for liberation that is also a part of Tanzania’s rich tradition, ADHT Conference organizers added.
The African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference will also attract educational, governmental and tourism professionals. It is anticipated that the conference will bring to Tanzania prominent Black Americans and celebrities to trace their origin.
Included in the ADHT conference is the special journey to Kenya where delegates will visit the ancestral home of the current US President Barack Obama.
The “Obama’s Roots Cultural and Historical Safari” has been designed to allow Africans in Diaspora to visit and get acquainted with the ancestors of the first US president of the African descendant.
In recent years, African descendants in the United States visited several African nations to trace their ancestral communities to where their great grandparents originated more than 400 years ago.
“By convening the ADHT Conference in Tanzania, we will offer a rare glimpse into the Arab Slave Trade of Eastern Africa, a major part of the worldwide enslavement of Africans that many of us in the West are not familiar with,” the conference honorary chairperson and famous actor and producer Danny Glover said.
Tanzania, the largest country in East Africa, is focused on wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism, with approximately 28 percent of the land protected by the government for wildlife and nature conservation.
Tanzania’s tourism is mostly made by 15 national parks and 32 game reserves, the legendary Mt. Kilimanjaro, the famous Serengeti wildlife park, Ngorongoro Crater, the Olduvai Gorge where the skull of the earliest man was discovered, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park – now the largest national park in Africa and Zanzibar.
ADHT Conference will be the fifth global gathering organized in United States and hosted in Tanzania with high attendance by the US and foreign delegates during the past six years.
Other such conferences were the Third African International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) held in Dar es Salaam in 2003 Dar es Salaam, the 33rd Africa Travel Association (ATA) Conference held in Arusha in 2008, the Eighth Leon H. Sullivan Conference and the First Travelers Philanthropy Conference held in Arusha the same year (2008), all organized in the United States.
US tourists are the best target group of tourists that Tanzanian government is looking at the moment. About 60,000 US tourists visit Tanzania every year. Tanzania expects to receive one million tourists and earn US$1.2 billion next year against the current number of 900,000 tourists who generated some US$950 million.