Study Abroad Program in Ghana, West Africa, June 2014

Published: July 30th, 2013

Category: Featured

Ghana Flag

For two weeks in May 2014, Dr. Patricia Hilliard-Nunn will teach an African American Studies course in Ghana, West Africa.  A tentative syllabus is listed below.




June 10, 2014 to June 22nd, 2014  

Dr. Patricia Hilliard-Nunn Lecturer, African American Studies Program

301 Walker Hall,, 352-392-

ghana1   ghana2

COURSE GOAL: The goal of this course is to research and/or visit selected historic and contemporary places, people, issues, and events that illuminate the dynamic connections between Africans in the United States and Ghana.

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  This course will introduce students to the Ghanaian origins and connections to the African American experience.  Ghana, formerly the Gold Coast, is one of several West African countries from which enslaved Africans were shipped during the transatlantic slave trade. Since then, the United States and Ghana has been linked via politics, art, culture, business, the tourism industry and more. Kwame Nkrumah, who became Ghana’s first president after winning independence from English colonial rule in 1957, studied in the United States and famous and regular African Americans as diverse as W.E.B. DuBois, Louis Armstrong, Richard Wright, Pauline Murray, Malcolm X, Maya Angelou have visited and/or moved to the country to work. Students will explore these and other themes related to African American and Ghana through their own disciplines.  Students will complete class readings. Class sessions will consist of cultural enrichment trips to key Ghanaian sites of interest, lectures, discussions, exercises, film screenings, and hands on workshops.

The course will take an interdisciplinary approach to explore historical, political, cultural, economic, and other themes that have influenced the construction of African American and Ghanaian realities in the past and present.  The course is organized thematically to allow students to explore the multifaceted relationships between African Americans and Ghana with emphasis on slavery, Pan-Africanism, culture and meaning and concepts of home.

1) African American Connections to Slavery in Ghana

The Black American connection to Ghana extends to the beginning of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade when Portuguese, Dutch, British, Spanish, North America and players other nations collaborated with some Africans to kidnap members of diverse African ethnic groups and take them to forts and castles (aka dungeons) that still sit on the coast today (i.e. Cape Coast Dungeon and Elmina Dungeon).  These colonial structures, considered World Heritage Site by UNESCO represent the last place that enslaved Africans saw before being transported during the middle passage.  During his 2008 trip to Africa, President Barak Obama visited Ghana in 2009 and the Cape Coast Dungeon has a marker to memorialize the day. These and other dungeons in Ghana have become “spaces of return” where many descendents of those enslaved in North America have an opportunity to symbolically reconnect with their roots. Historic spaces like Donkor Nsuo (aka Ancestral River Park and The Slave River) was a final crossing point for enslaved Africans from the interior who, after walking hundreds of miles while chained together, bathed and camped before being marched to the dungeons along the coast.  The site, which is located in Assin Manso, also had an ancestral cemetery where the repatriated skeletal remains of Mother Crystal and Samuel Carson, former enslaved people in Jamaica and America respectively, were re-interred.  Ghana is considered the ancestral homeland of many African Americans including Paul Cuffee, Sojourner Truth, Jack Johnson, Pearl Primus and others.  Some of the more rebellious enslaved Africans in North America (Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Denmark Vessey, maroons, etc.) were Akans or their descendents (i.e. Fanti, Ashanti, etc.) from the Gold Coast. They were called Coromantee , an English mispronunciation of  the town Koromantse that they were taken from.

2) Political and Pan-Africanist Links

Painted images of African Americans like Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King,

and others who resisted slavery and fought for civil rights appear on a wall at Donkor Nsuo along with the Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. DuBois who are considered key Pan-Africanists. This reflects the relationship and mutual influence that African American scholars, writers, activists and others have had with Ghana.  Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana and a key figure in international Pan-African thought, earned two BAs and a Masters of Science in Education and Masters in Philosophy at Lincoln University.  He helped to found the African Studies Association and the African Students Association of American and Canada while he was still in the US.

When he returned to Ghana to work to decolonize the country, he maintained connections with people he had met while he was in the U.S.  The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Museum includes artifacts and information that addresses his story.  When Ghana, formerly Gold Coast, won its independence in 1957, Dr. Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King traveled there to attend the ceremony.  Sociologist, scholar, writer, educator and historian, W.E. B. DuBois, one of the most significant people of the 20thCentury, was welcomed to Ghana by President  Nkrumah in 1961. He was charged by Nkrumah to direct the research and writing of the Encyclopedia Africana.  DuBois was living in Ghana in 1963 when he passed just as Dr. Martin Luther King was about to deliver his famous “I Have a Dream”  speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  The home that DuBois occupied is now a part of the W.E.B. Dubois Center for Pan African Culture which also includes his tomb, his personal library, and other items. The Marcus Garvey Guest house, named for the Jamaican who led the largest mass movement in the history of the United States through the UNIA is also located in the DuBois center compound.  Nkrumah, inspired by Garvey’s Pan Africanist and Black Nationalist message and actions the black star, the name of Garvey’s shipping line, that appears at the center of the Ghanaian flag.   Marcus Garvey is a central figure in the philosophy of Rastafarians who have established communities in Kokrobite, Ghana. 2013 marks the  10th PANAFEST, an educational and entertaining festival that commemorates the end of slavery and colonialism around the globe.  Malcolm X visited Ghana for the second time and spoke at the University of Ghana, Legon and at the Ghanaian Parliament in May of 1964 after leaving the Nation of Islam and focused on a Pan-Africanist vision.

3) Culture

Ghanaian culture has been infused in many African American practices.  Ghana is made up of many Akan cultures with the Ashanti, Fanti and Ga being some of the more popular. The use, for example, of colorful woven Kente Cloth strips worn by African Americans as graduations or Kente print outfits that became popular during the 1980s when African centered/Afrocentric  approaches to history and culture were on the rise.   Kumasi is the site of Ashanti kente weaving villages where students can learn how it is done. There are also several craft villages where students can learn about the Adinkrah philosophy and observe the Adinkrah  stamping process  The National Cultural Center in Kumasi provides one stop opportunity to learn about the Asante Kingdom. The Prempeh II Jubilee museum is housed in the complex as are a number of artisans who specialize in making kente weaving, pottery, woodcarving and adinkrah art. Kumasi is also the sight of the Asantehene’s Palace, Manhyia. The Asantehene is the main Ashanti ruler. The famous American jazz musician, Louis Armstrong, visited Ghana in 1953 and 1956 and sang  “Black and Blue.”  His trips were returns to his ancestral land reportedly Koromtanse. Armstrong, who grew up in New Orleans was seasoned in Afro-New Orleans traditions evident in funeral services. Participants often carry the umbrellas like those used to shelter Ghanaian chiefs.  Louis’ ancestral hope is reportedly the Abandze village near Cape Coast. This is an example of African cultural influence, sometimes called “retention” evident in African American culture. Noted anthropologist Melville Herskovitz discussed this  in his book  The Myth of the Negro Past (1941). Ghana affords varied opportunities to observe similarities in selected Ghanaian and African American culture.  The traditional drumming and dancing of the dance troop at the University of Ghana will provide students with an opportunity for participant observation.  African American artists have often visited to share and be influenced by Ghanaian art.  The famous choreographer and anthropologist, Pearl Primus, was born in Trinidad, but was raised and spent most of her life  in the U.S. teaching and sharing the beauty of African Dance. Her maternal grandfather was a musician from Ghana and she traveled to the Gold Coast (later Ghana) and other African nations studying the practice, meanings and theory of African dance.

Diverse markets abound throughout Ghana. Students will visit the Artisan workshop in Accra, Ghana which features the work of local artist and they will walk through the vibrant Kejetia Market in Kumasi, the largest open air market in Africa.

4) Concepts of home

Sankofa, is an Akan word symbolized by a bird looking backwards. It means “go back to fetch it.” This principle of Sankofa is connected to the African American Studies emphasis on historiography.

This study sour provides students with an opportunity to explore accepted and challenged meanings of Ghana as “home” to Blacks from the United States. Shirkiana Aina Gerima’s film, Through the Door of No Return (1997) explores some of the issues connected to examining one’s ancestral roots. Aina  address the concept of home and memory while showing the Cape Coast dungeon, but also in a space that her father visited in the 1970s. The Cape Coast dungeon is also the site that key scenes of the film Sankofa (1993) was filmed. Students will visit three key areas of Ghana including Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast. This will give them a feel for the size, culture and economic diversity of  the country. Students will also dialogue with Ghanaians to learn their impressions of Americans.  A trip to the Accra Mall will provide students with a rare Ghanaian opportunity to see how the shopping space compares with malls in the U.S.  Students will see the home of Dr. Robert Lee, a dentist from North Carolina who moved to Ghana in the 1950s and was one of the most prominent ex-patriots until he died at the age of 90 in 2010.  He worked with his wife Dr. Sara Lee who was also a Dentist to train Ghanaians in dentistry and provide mobile dental care at a time when it was not popular.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: Students will 1) gain a basic understanding of Ghanaian history and culture, 2) understand the history of slavery in Ghana and the use of the Elmina and Cape Coast Dungeons, 3) be able to name some well known African Americans who were descendents of Ghanaians, particularly the Coromantee, who were enslaved in North America, 4) understand the philosophy,  practices and some of the purposes of adinkrah symbols and kente cloth, 5) be able to describe how President Kwame Nkrumah influenced and was influenced by African Americans 6) describe the experience of Dr. W.E.B. DuBois in Ghana,  7) know some of the traditional purposes and practices of African dancing and drumming, 8) name some of the African Americans who traveled to, influenced and were influenced by Ghanaian culture and/or politics  9) be able to explain Pan-Africanism and Afrocentricity in the African American and Ghanaian experience,  10) be exposed to some of the motivations experiences and challenges of African American expatriates living in Ghana, 11) enhance critical analysis and research skills.


The origin of the relationship between African Americans and Ghana is rooted in pre slavery Ghanaian, the history of enslavement and in social, political and cultural exchange.  This reality provides many ways to research and know and try to explain some of the multilayered connections in the past and today.  This diversity sets the context for students to view the meanings of African Americans and Ghana through the lense of their own discipline.


African Americans in Ghana, students will explore the history, varied perceptions and experiences of African Americans in relation to Ghana.  Guiding questions for students in the course will be: 1) What does Ghana mean to African Americans today? How are African Americans, possible descendents of enslaved Africans, perceived by Ghanaians?  What role(s) might visits to the Elmina and Cape Castle Dungeons play for American citizens?  What, if any relationship do African Americans have with Ghana, the final resting place of American sociologist, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois? How do the experiences of Black Americans and Ghanaians differ? 4) What can African American experiences in Ghana teach you about your chosen academic discipline?


Complete prior to departure:

Gaines, Kevin K. (2006). American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights         Era. University of North Carolina Press.

Zachary, Pascal G. (March 14, 2001). For African-Americans in Ghana, The Grass Isn’t Always      Greener. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 6, 2013           grass-isnt-alwa.html at 8:58PM.


1.     CLASS PARTICIPATION/ATTENDANCE                                                                                                 50%:

        Participation means that you attend lectures, cultural enrichment fieldtrips, and special    activities. It also means that you engage in class discussions and group exercises in a meaningful                                                                         way.  This also means that you attend pre-trip and post-trip classes.

2.    JOURNAL REFLECTION ESSAY  and   JOURNAL                                                                                  20%

Keep a trip journal in any form that you wish. Be sure to date your entries as you note, describe  and reflect upon each day’s activities.  Turn in 1) a 6-8 page double-spaced

reflection essay of your journal and 2) The actual journal as an addendum to the essay.

Turn in a hard copy to the professor in 211 Walker Hall-UF on June  20,  2014.

3.    RESEARCH  QUESTION                                                                                                                                  10%: 

        Select a topic related to the African American experience and your discipline.  Do preliminary             research to narrow the scope as topics like “Black Women in America,” are too broad.  Complete                                                  the research proposal form that will be distributed to you.                   (DUE:   Before May 23, 2014)

Turn in a hard copy to the professor in 211 Walker Hall-UF on June  20,  2014.

4.     RESEARCH PAPER                                                                                                                                           20%:

        Research and write an organized and informative 8 -10 double-spaced page paper – not including        the outline and reference page related to some aspect of  African Americans and Ghana that interests you.  You must incorporate your readings, travel, lectures and especially your    experiences.  Include a discussion about a critical moment in the trip. The final paper must          include no fewer than six (6) references.  Your paper will not be accepted if you have not    already turned in the research paper proposal form and had it approved by the professor.

E-mail a copy of the paper to no later than 11:59PM on June 19, 2014)           AND Turn in a hard copy to the professor in 103 Walker Hall-UF on June  20,  2014.



REQUIREMENTS & EVALUATION AT A GLANCE                        %               Write  in your score:

            1.    Attendance & Participation                                                             30%              ___________

            2.    Journal Reflection Essay and Journal                                           20%              ___________

            2.    Complete Research Proposal  Form                                              10%              ___________

            3.    Research Paper                                              (8 -10 full pages)    40%              ___________

                                                                                                                    TOTAL      100%         (                %)  


Your Grade Will Be Based On The Following Scale %: 93-100=A, 90-92=A-, 87-89=B+, 83-86=B, 80-82=B-, 77-79=C+, 73-76=C, 70-72=C-, 67-69=D+, 63-66=D, 60-62=D-, 57-59=F+, 57 and below = F.

For more information on current UF grading policies for assigning grade points, you may link to the following website:

PRESENTATION OF WORK:  Writing assignments must be typed, double-spaced using Times Roman 12 point font in MS Word.  You must use a standard one-inch margin – no bold-faced or large fonts. Use the style APA, MLA or Chicago that is used in your academic discipline. All pages should be numbered and stapled.  UF has an online writing for students. Visit their site at


1) Quality, scope and organization of documentation; 2) Clarity and coherence of expression; 3) Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation; 4) Quality of critical analysis; 5) Demonstration of an understanding of information and concepts addressed in the lectures, field-trips, readings and/or discussed in class; 6) Following directions and completing assignments on time.

UNIVERSITY CODE OF HONOR: Each student in this course is expected to abide by the University of Florida’s Student Honor Code and Code of Conduct.  Any work submitted by a student in this course for academic credit will be the student’s own workDo not plagiarize.  All work must be cited. Students suspected of academic dishonesty or of violating the Honor Code will be reported to the Dean of Students Office.  To learn more about the UF policy regarding Academic Honesty, please visit: 

Tentative Schedule of Lectures/Events. 

Ghanaian professors, professionals and guides will be secured to provide students with high quality lectures and workshops. The schedule may change slightly to fit their schedules and areas of expertise.





May 1




May 2




Check InWelcome ReceptionGroup Meeting

 May 3






TOUR:Visit Independence Square:  Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, National Museum/MausoleumTOUR:Visit The Dr. W.E.B. DuBois MemorialTOUR & SHOPPING:Visit Artisan’s Guild/Market

May 4




LECTURE: Dr. Jake GordonThe University of GhanaWORKSHOP: African Dance and Drum at the University of Ghana

May 5


Volta Region



TOUR:  Wli water falls and tropical rain forest. Agumatse River. Swimming optional

May 6






Travel to KumasiTOUR: Bead making facility at Odumasi Krobo – BonwireTOUR: Ntonso Adinkrah CraftsmenLecture: Dr. P. Hilliard-Nunn

May 7






WALK THROUGH:  The Kumasi Central Market (Kejetia). The largest open-air market in West AfricaTOUR:   Ashanti KingdomManhyia Palace MuseumTOUR: The Ghanaian National Cultural Center, home to Primpeh II Jubilee Museum and the Okomfo Anokye Sword. It includes a variety of work spaces which feature woodcarving, ceramics, kente weaving and adinkrah printing.LECTURE: Dr. P. Hilliard-Nunn 

May 8






VISIT: Donkor Nsuo (The Slave River) at Assin MansoTOUR: Kakum National ParkLECTURE: Dr. P. Hilliard-Nunn

May 9



Cape Coast





BUS TOUR:  Drive through ElminaTOUR: Elmina Dungeon & Museum

May 10

Cape Coast



TOUR:  Cape Coast Dungeon. State GuidePanel Discussion:  This panel will include members of the African American Expatriate community in Ghana. Cape Coast University Campus.

May 11





Drive through: Village of Abandz, the ancestral home of Louis ArmstrongLECTURE: P. Hilliard-Nunn

May 12



MOVIE: Pray the Devil Back to HellTOUR: Liberia Refugee Camp

May 13




Tour: Speak with the elders and others in the town.Tour: Visit an elementary school. Share stories with the children. Interact with the children.

May 14




Exploration, Research, ShoppingLECTURE:  Dr. Barbara McDadeThe University of Ghana

May 15




Trip reflections – debriefingFarewell Banquet

May 16






African American history timeline

This link will connect you to a list of several journals:


African American Review

American Literature Forum

American Historical Review

American Quarterly

Black American Literature Forum

Black Camera: A Micro Journal of Black Film Studies

The Black Collegian

Black Issues in Higher Education

Black Music Research Journal

The Black Scholar

Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World: A        Review Journal

Fire, The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies

International Journal of Africana Studies

Journal of African American Studies


Akbar, Na’im, (1996). Breaking the chains of psychological slavery. Tall, FL: Mind Prod. &


Alkalimat, et. al., Introduction to Afro-American Studies

Akyeampong, Emmanuel  and Pashington Obeng, (1995). ‘Spirituality, gender, and power    in Asante history’, International Journal of African Historical Studies      28(3), 489-90.

Apter, David E.  (2008).  Ghana’s Independence: Triumph and Paradox. Transition.  No. 98. pp. 6-22.

Asante, Molefi Kete and Abu Abarry (eds). (1996). African Intellectual heritage. Temple University Press.

Birmingham, David. (1998). Kwame Nkrumah: The Father of African Nationalism Athens: Ohio      University Press.

Bruner, Edward M. (Jun., 1996). Tourism in Ghana: The Representation of Slavery and the Return of the Black Diaspora American Anthropologist. New Series, 98(2), 290-304.

Campbell, James T. (2006).Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005.       NY: Penguin Press.

Chinweizu (1987).  Decolonizing the African mind.  London: Sundoor Press.

Cudjo Genealogy  Also Cudjoe, Cudgo, Cudger, Cojoe, and many more… The Akan people. Roorsweb. Retrieved       July 7, 2013

Day, Lynda, R.  (Autumn, 2004).What’s Tourism Got to Do with It?: The Yaa Asantewa       Legacy             and Development in Asanteman. Africa Today. 51(1). 99-113. Stable URL:

Dewolf, Thomas N. . (2009). Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History. Beacon Press.

Dewolf, Thomas N. and Sharon Morgan. (2012). Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey   of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade. Beacon Press.

Drake, St. Clair (1987).  Black folk here and there: Volumes 1 & 2.  Los Angeles: Center for Afro-American Studies University of California.

DuBois, W. E. B. (1903). The Souls of Black Folk.   Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co.  (On line)

Harris, Sheldon H. .(1972). Paul Cuffee: Black America and the African Return. New           York:   Simon & Schuster.

Horne, Gerald. Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois, New York: New York University Press, 2000.

Kelly, Lake, O. (1995). Toward a Pan-African identity: Diaspora African repatriates in Ghana.        Anthropological Quarterly, 68(1), 21-36.

Leary, Joy DeGruy. (2005). Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of    Enduring Injury and Healing. Uptone Press.

Lewis, David Levering. (2001). W. E. B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the       American Century 1919–1963, Owl Books.

Milliar, George M. (Oct., 2009). Chieftaincy, Diaspora, and Development: The Institution of Nkosuohene in Ghana. African Affairs. 108(433), 541-558)

Meyer, Birgit. (Feb., 2004). “Praise the Lord”: Popular Cinema and Pentecostalite Style in Ghana’s New Public Sphere. American Ethnologist.31(1), 92-110.

Nkrumah, Kwame. (1957). Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah.

Osei-Tufu, Brempong, (2009). “Slave castles, African American activism and Ghana’s          memorial entrepreneurism.”  Anthropology – Dissertations. Paper          1.

Opoku-Agyemang, Kwadwo. (2004). Cape Coast Castle. Retrieved July 7 from            3081&sid=1&Fmt=2&clientId=3739&RQT=309&VName=PQD

Poe, D. Zizwe (2003). Kwame Nkrumah’s Contribution to Pan-African Agency. New             York:   Routledge

Richards, Sandra L. (Dec, 2005).  What Is to Be Remembered?: Tourism to Ghana’s                         Slave Castle-DungeonsTheatre Journal
Vol. 57, No. 4, Black Performance  617-         637Stable URL:

Romain, Kani Edite, (2002). “Traditional Dance In Ghana: A Means Of Preserving And        Re-       Affirming Ghanaian Culture” (2002). African Diaspora ISPs. Paper        3.

William St. Clair, (2007).  The Door of No Return: The History of Cape Coast Castle and                 the Atlantic Slave Trade. New York: Blue Bridge.

White, Carmen M. (May, 2007).  Living in Zion: Rastafarian Repatriates in Ghana, West      Africa. Journal of Black Studies. Vol. 37, No. 5. pp. 677-709.

Woodson, (1933, 1972). The Mis-Education of the Negro (Washington, D.C.: The Associated   Publishers, Inc.



Comments are currently closed.