DNA - Trace Your Roots
twi.bb is dedicated to sharing the Twi language of the Akan people of Ghana in West Africa, and was created especially for black Caribbean people whose ancestors were taken from West Africa hundreds of years ago. The website was launched from Barbados on 6 March 2007 in celebration of Ghana's 50th anniversary of independence.
6 March 2007
On 5 December 2006, the intention to create this website was publicly announced on a Ghanaian online forum. The text below is taken from that original announcement, with a few minor changes which were made for the purpose of this presentation.
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade started four centuries ago and did not end until 172 years ago in 1834. In that time, millions of black people from many parts of West Africa were taken by force from their homelands, sold into slavery and transplanted to foreign lands across the Atlantic. My own country Barbados was one of those Caribbean islands where captives from the Asante, Ewe, Fante, Ga and many other tribes from the Gold Coast region were mixed together with people from as far north as Senegambia and as far south as Angola, including Yorubas, Igbos, Ibibios and others from Nigeria. In the time of slavery and colonialism, all these black African people intermixed and intermarried with each other, and also with the white slavemasters from England, and with the lesser known "poor whites", or indentured servants who often suffered cruelties at the hands of their white ethnic kin far worse than what was done to the slaves.
Forty years ago, my country became an independent nation. The descendants of the British are now white Bajans, a minority in a land where their forefathers once ruled. The descendants of the Africans are now black Bajans, a majority in a land where their forefathers once toiled as slaves.
As we have asserted our independence over the decades, we are also beginning to look at ourselves more deeply. We have begun a slow process of examining our history and seeking to correct some of the imbalances of our past, namely the suppression of the black African culture of our people. In the past, Africa was not on our radar. It was not in the interest of either the slavemaster or the old colonialist to educate us about our African origins. Of course, when the British needed men to fight the Asante and attack Kumasi, they used recruits of the West India Regiment, black men from Barbados, Jamaica and other West Indian colonies whose ancestors would have included a good number of Asantes and people of other Akan stock. Again when World Wars were being fought, many of our people (on both sides of the Atlantic) gave their lives to fight and die in conflicts which arose between white European nations. Outside of such necessities, the dominant policy of the slavemasters and old colonialists was to stamp out, eradicate, and erase as much as possible all elements of African culture, African identity and African resistance that surfaced on the plantations of the New World. This is the reason why, wherever possible, slaves in the Caribbean were purchased from different parts of Africa and different tribes of Africa and mixed together, to lessen any chances of them uniting together and overthrowing their European masters. They were also forced to speak the language of the dominant European power in each particular island or colony.
I was born in 1964, two years before Barbados became an independent nation. I have witnessed much progress and many changes in my country over the years, almost all of them positive, good and progressive. In recent years I have been happy to witness a growing appreciation of our African ancestry and a heightened awareness of the African roots of our Bajan culture. While we have become prosperous through offering tourism and doing business with Western countries, we have also started to reestablish the broken links with Mother Africa, the most powerful evidence of that being the establishment of the Commission for Pan-African Affairs which was opened by the government of Barbados on 25 November 1998. May God bless that day.
There are black people in the diaspora who want to talk to Mother Africa.
There are black people in the diaspora who want to learn from Mother Africa.
There are black people in the diaspora who want to work with Mother Africa.
There are black people in the diaspora who want to do business with Mother Africa.
There are black people in the diaspora who want to reconnect with Mother Africa.
If we as Bajans, Caribbean people and black Americans are to reconnect to Mother Africa, we must of necessity have dialogue with the sons and daughters of Africa. And when any two people talk they must have a common language in which that dialogue is conducted. Of course there is English, which in the case of Barbados and Ghana is a perfectly suitable medium for communication. However, there are also languages such as Twi, a West African language that has been spoken for centuries in the Gold Coast area, and is still very widely spoken in Ghana today. By making the effort to learn this language and others like it, black people of the diaspora can empower themselves to be able to communicate with our brothers and sisters on the continent, and also to restore some part of what was taken away from us many centuries ago during that crossing of the middle passage. A website teaching Twi would certainly go a long way in making resources available to anyone who wanted to learn the language. It would be free, accessible 24 hours a day, and be tastefully adorned with adinkra symbols and kente motifs to reflect the rich cultural heritage of all Ghana's Twi-speaking people.
In the same way that others have set up a web site and dedicated it to Latin (which has long been considered a dead language), there is nothing to stop us from setting up a website for Twi and promoting and preserving that which is cherished and important to us as a people... our language.
On this day, 5 December 2006, I hereby dedicate myself to this endeavour.
Let us speak Twi with our African brothers and sisters and be proud of doing so.
Me da mo ase.
Kwame the Webmaster.