This full day begins on the beach of Ouidah , Benin – the place where millions of African persons were enslaved and sent to countries throughout the world. This beach is one of the many that begin the tragic journey of the Middle Passage. This beautiful beach is now quiet and the home of PROMETRA’s diaspora bridge project entitled, The Door of Return ( La Porte de Retour). As one travels to this beach, we drive down the earth paved street, Route of the Slaves, lined with individual statues that depict the history of African culture. At the end of this road, The Republic of Benin has built a monument, Gate of No Return, to stand as a global symbol regarding the atrocities of slavery and the hope of the future.
We begin our ceremonial participation with welcoming rituals performed in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean . We will then participate in the Opening Welcoming Ceremony where we will meet and hear presentations given by theRepublic of Benin , National Culte du Vodoo, UNESCO and other visiting dignitaries. Following these presentations , we will walk to the welcoming stature, “Mother Africa Welcomes Her Returning Children.” This statute portrays the children of the world’s diaspora returning from the sea, back to the arms of Mother Africa.