Mr. Kodjo Mensah, Manager of Mama Heritage Shop at the Art Centre, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview on Thursday that patronage at the center during the period was tremendous and had a positive impact on their business and finances.
He said the return of fellow Africans ignited dynamism in business activities at the center; “the Returnees invaded the center all day round forcing traders to go beyond the normal closing time of 17:00 hours. Even traders who traditionally closed at 17:00 hours had to stay till 20:00 hours”.
Mr. Mensah said very good sales were made and that one customer could buy a number of artworks, cloth, and jewelry. “The government should bring them back because their coming served as a platform to unite Ghana and America.
“We can learn a lot from them; if black people can also look good like this then we here can also become like them”.
Madam Genevieve Klu, a salesperson at the shop, said the initiative by the government was a good one, which brought about an 80 percent boost to sales as compared to previous years.
She urged the government to make the Year of Return an annual event, which should be observed by all governments.
“Very excellent, we have enjoyed it very much, everybody in the craft market enjoyed; as you can see my shop is almost empty, I must be frank with you the organizers have done well seriously,” Mr. Issaka Sulemana of Ila Sulaman Enterprise stated.
He said before the return, business at the art market was dead with less patronage but the visitors over the period bought a lot of beads, jewelry, leather works, and some brass works.
Ahmed Mohammed of Shop No 118 at the Centre said business at the Centre had been revived and even though most of his carvings were not bought because of their weight, the visitors patronized his brass ornaments and sculpture.
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The Year of Return was declared by the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Washington Press Club, in Washington D.C., on September 2018, to serve as a major landmark, spiritual and birth-right journey inviting the African family from across the globe home, to mark 400 years of the arrival in 1619 of the first 20 enslaved Africans in Jamestown, Virginia.
The visit of about 200,000 African Diasporas to the soils of their ancestors was a year-long initiative with intense activities and participation within the Christmas festivities and the early part of the New Year.