Jamestown is recognizing its connections to African history with a visitor from across the Atlantic Ocean.
On Tuesday, James Icenhour, chairman of the James City County Board of Supervisors, issued a proclamation to Kojo Yankah, the author of a new book, “From Jamestown to Jamestown: Letters to an African Child,” that honors the connection between Jamestown Island and the Jamestown District in Accra, Ghana.
The proclamation states that June 18 will now be known as From Jamestown to Jamestown Day to honor Yankah’s work as well as the 400-year connection between the two locations.
This year, Jamestown is commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first Africans to arrive at the colony and Ghana was one of the locations where the slave trade oriented, according to a news release from the county.
“Both Jamestown sites have since recognized and learned from the atrocities of the past and…both Jamestown sites have now grown to become thriving, vibrant communities that rely heavily on the culture and connectivity grown from those histories,” Icenhour said.
Yankah, founder and former president of the African University College of Communications, was given a copy of the proclamation, a copy of the county’s logo and the county flag.
In a speech, Yankah said he originally visited Jamestown 25 years ago to celebrate the 375th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans. After returning home, he said he said he thought about how Jamestown in Virginia had a connection to the Jamestown District in Ghana.
“So when I went back [to Ghana], something struck me and this was the first time I realized that Jamestown itself had a fort which was also a slave-trading post,” he said.
For his research, Yankah said he used Jamestown to represent all of the coastal towns in the southwest region of Africa where slaves were primarily being captured.
Yankah said since 1994 he has been doing research in order to build a story in a readable fashion that would show the history of his people since the first Africans arrival.
“I must say that out here with all my travels in this part of the world, those who have African descent do not know where they come from,” he said. “Similarly, those on the continent [of Africa] have no idea what happened to those that went out as captives to the new world.”
In his book, Yankah said he tried to pull all of these pieces together to a simple way to tell the story of Ghana’s connection to Jamestown.
“It’s a painful story but it has to be told,” he said. “Our children will have to know that these things happened.”