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Pictures | Wed Aug 28, 2019 | 10:55pm EDT

Mother and daughter revisit family's slavery past in Ghana

Tani Sanchez and her daughter Tani Sylvester visit the Cape Coast castle, Ghana August 12, 2019. The two Tanis are among a growing number of African Americans exploring their ancestral roots in Ghana, which has encouraged people with Ghanaian heritage to return in honor of the 400th anniversary of the first recorded arrival of African slaves to English settlements in what would one day become America.

REUTERS/Kweku Obeng

Tani Sanchez and her daughter Tani Sylvester visit the Cape Coast castle, Ghana August 12, 2019. The two Tanis are among a growing number of African Americans exploring their ancestral roots in Ghana, which has encouraged people with Ghanaian...more

Tani Sanchez and her daughter Tani Sylvester visit the Cape Coast castle, Ghana August 12, 2019. The two Tanis are among a growing number of African Americans exploring their ancestral roots in Ghana, which has encouraged people with Ghanaian heritage to return in honor of the 400th anniversary of the first recorded arrival of African slaves to English settlements in what would one day become America. REUTERS/Kweku Obeng
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Tani Sanchez meets with Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, Chief of Nkwantakese, inside his palace in Ashanti Region, Ghana. Their family's journey began nearly two centuries before on a sugarcane plantation in Louisiana -- and, before that, the homeland to which they were bound. Stories from a beloved grandmother about the family's experiences through slavery, the Civil War and early 20th century America sparked Sanchez's lifelong quest to discover her ancestry. 

REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Tani Sanchez meets with Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, Chief of Nkwantakese, inside his palace in Ashanti Region, Ghana. Their family's journey began nearly two centuries before on a sugarcane plantation in Louisiana -- and, before that, the homeland to...more

Tani Sanchez meets with Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, Chief of Nkwantakese, inside his palace in Ashanti Region, Ghana. Their family's journey began nearly two centuries before on a sugarcane plantation in Louisiana -- and, before that, the homeland to which they were bound. Stories from a beloved grandmother about the family's experiences through slavery, the Civil War and early 20th century America sparked Sanchez's lifelong quest to discover her ancestry. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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Tani Sanchez and her daughter Tani Sylvester are welcomed by a tour guide upon their arrival with other members of a heritage tour group at Ghana's Kotoka International Airport. The advent of genetic testing gave Sanchez hope that DNA could shed light on the family's lost origins. The results, some showing a direct link to the Ashanti ethnic group in Ghana through her great-great-grandfather Wright, helped pave the way for the mother-daughter tour.

REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Tani Sanchez and her daughter Tani Sylvester are welcomed by a tour guide upon their arrival with other members of a heritage tour group at Ghana's Kotoka International Airport. The advent of genetic testing gave Sanchez hope that DNA could shed...more

Tani Sanchez and her daughter Tani Sylvester are welcomed by a tour guide upon their arrival with other members of a heritage tour group at Ghana's Kotoka International Airport. The advent of genetic testing gave Sanchez hope that DNA could shed light on the family's lost origins. The results, some showing a direct link to the Ashanti ethnic group in Ghana through her great-great-grandfather Wright, helped pave the way for the mother-daughter tour. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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Members of a heritage tour group enact how slaves were transported before being shipped across the Atlantic in centuries past, at the Assin Manso river, Ghana. After arriving in the sprawling, humid Ghanaian capital, Accra, Sanchez and her daughter joined a group of around 40 mostly African Americans. They got to know each other as they were taken around the city by a tour guide who taught them to sing a Ghanaian hymn and how to respond to a traditional call for their attention in the local Akan language.

REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Members of a heritage tour group enact how slaves were transported before being shipped across the Atlantic in centuries past, at the Assin Manso river, Ghana. After arriving in the sprawling, humid Ghanaian capital, Accra, Sanchez and her daughter...more

Members of a heritage tour group enact how slaves were transported before being shipped across the Atlantic in centuries past, at the Assin Manso river, Ghana. After arriving in the sprawling, humid Ghanaian capital, Accra, Sanchez and her daughter joined a group of around 40 mostly African Americans. They got to know each other as they were taken around the city by a tour guide who taught them to sing a Ghanaian hymn and how to respond to a traditional call for their attention in the local Akan language. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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Members of a heritage tour group hug each other after paying respects to enslaved ancestors at the Assin Manso river, where slaves bathed for the last time before being shipped across the Atlantic in centuries past, Assin Manso, Ghana. 

REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Members of a heritage tour group hug each other after paying respects to enslaved ancestors at the Assin Manso river, where slaves bathed for the last time before being shipped across the Atlantic in centuries past, Assin Manso, Ghana....more

Members of a heritage tour group hug each other after paying respects to enslaved ancestors at the Assin Manso river, where slaves bathed for the last time before being shipped across the Atlantic in centuries past, Assin Manso, Ghana. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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Tani Sanchez pays her respects with others to their enslaved ancestors at the Assin Manso river. They picked their way down the bank past stands of bamboo to the shallow, sun-dappled water, helping the less sure-footed as they went. On the guide's invitation, Sylvester stepped into the creek, closed her eyes and raised her hands in prayer. "I felt what my mom was saying about honoring the ancestors, like my ancestors would want me to get into that water and retrace their steps," she said. "And even just taking off my shoes and feeling the same ground that they walked on, getting into the water, I just feel like I came out of that water a different person."

REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Tani Sanchez pays her respects with others to their enslaved ancestors at the Assin Manso river. They picked their way down the bank past stands of bamboo to the shallow, sun-dappled water, helping the less sure-footed as they went. On the guide's...more

Tani Sanchez pays her respects with others to their enslaved ancestors at the Assin Manso river. They picked their way down the bank past stands of bamboo to the shallow, sun-dappled water, helping the less sure-footed as they went. On the guide's invitation, Sylvester stepped into the creek, closed her eyes and raised her hands in prayer. "I felt what my mom was saying about honoring the ancestors, like my ancestors would want me to get into that water and retrace their steps," she said. "And even just taking off my shoes and feeling the same ground that they walked on, getting into the water, I just feel like I came out of that water a different person." REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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A member of a heritage tour group pays her respect to enslaved ancestors at the Assin Manso river. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

A member of a heritage tour group pays her respect to enslaved ancestors at the Assin Manso river. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

A member of a heritage tour group pays her respect to enslaved ancestors at the Assin Manso river. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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7 / 20
A member of a heritage tour group says a prayer to her enslaved ancestors at the Assin Manso river. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

A member of a heritage tour group says a prayer to her enslaved ancestors at the Assin Manso river. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

A member of a heritage tour group says a prayer to her enslaved ancestors at the Assin Manso river. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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Miriam Allen, a 62-year-old retired urban planner from New York, reacts as she reflects her ancestral history at the Assin Manso river. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Miriam Allen, a 62-year-old retired urban planner from New York, reacts as she reflects her ancestral history at the Assin Manso river. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Miriam Allen, a 62-year-old retired urban planner from New York, reacts as she reflects her ancestral history at the Assin Manso river. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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Fishermen tend their boats and fishing nets as members of a heritage tour group visit the Cape Coast castle, Ghana. REUTERS/Kweku Obeng

Fishermen tend their boats and fishing nets as members of a heritage tour group visit the Cape Coast castle, Ghana. REUTERS/Kweku Obeng

Fishermen tend their boats and fishing nets as members of a heritage tour group visit the Cape Coast castle, Ghana. REUTERS/Kweku Obeng
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Cannons are seen at the Cape Coast castle during a tour for members of a heritage tour group in Cape Coast, Ghana. In the dungeon of a slave fort, they stood together in shocked silence as they heard how the floor beneath their feet was still grouted with centuries of hard-packed human feces, urine, blood and flesh. If one of the group appeared overwhelmed, others would quickly seek to console them, offering tissues, a hug or a sympathetic ear.

REUTERS/Kweku Obeng

Cannons are seen at the Cape Coast castle during a tour for members of a heritage tour group in Cape Coast, Ghana. In the dungeon of a slave fort, they stood together in shocked silence as they heard how the floor beneath their feet was still grouted...more

Cannons are seen at the Cape Coast castle during a tour for members of a heritage tour group in Cape Coast, Ghana. In the dungeon of a slave fort, they stood together in shocked silence as they heard how the floor beneath their feet was still grouted with centuries of hard-packed human feces, urine, blood and flesh. If one of the group appeared overwhelmed, others would quickly seek to console them, offering tissues, a hug or a sympathetic ear. REUTERS/Kweku Obeng
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Members of a heritage tour group visit the Cape Coast castle. "I have taught introduction to African American studies and I have taught slavery, but there is something about being here and actually walking on the path and looking at the dungeons and looking at the devastation colonization has left -- there is nothing like it," Sanchez said toward the end of the tour as Atlantic waves crashed onto the nearby beach.

REUTERS/Kweku Obeng

Members of a heritage tour group visit the Cape Coast castle. "I have taught introduction to African American studies and I have taught slavery, but there is something about being here and actually walking on the path and looking at the dungeons and...more

Members of a heritage tour group visit the Cape Coast castle. "I have taught introduction to African American studies and I have taught slavery, but there is something about being here and actually walking on the path and looking at the dungeons and looking at the devastation colonization has left -- there is nothing like it," Sanchez said toward the end of the tour as Atlantic waves crashed onto the nearby beach. REUTERS/Kweku Obeng
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12 / 20
A bus transporting members of a heritage tour group is driven along a street in Kumasi, Ashanti region, Ghana. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

A bus transporting members of a heritage tour group is driven along a street in Kumasi, Ashanti region, Ghana. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

A bus transporting members of a heritage tour group is driven along a street in Kumasi, Ashanti region, Ghana. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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Chief of Nkwantakese, Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, welcomes members of a heritage tour group in Ashanti region. During a traditional Ashanti "durbar" ceremony of drumming and dance outside Kumasi, a local chief formally welcomed them back to the tribe and proclaimed: "We are proud of you. ... We are one."

REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Chief of Nkwantakese, Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, welcomes members of a heritage tour group in Ashanti region. During a traditional Ashanti "durbar" ceremony of drumming and dance outside Kumasi, a local chief formally welcomed them back to the tribe...more

Chief of Nkwantakese, Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, welcomes members of a heritage tour group in Ashanti region. During a traditional Ashanti "durbar" ceremony of drumming and dance outside Kumasi, a local chief formally welcomed them back to the tribe and proclaimed: "We are proud of you. ... We are one." REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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Chief of Nkwantakese, Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, performs a traditional dance in front of members of a heritage tour group visiting his village, in Ashanti region. In a small courtyard, musicians in black-and-white robes beat waist-high drums as the chief, his wrist stacked with chunky gold bracelets, performed a ritual dance under a large fringed parasol spun above him by an attendant.

REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Chief of Nkwantakese, Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, performs a traditional dance in front of members of a heritage tour group visiting his village, in Ashanti region. In a small courtyard, musicians in black-and-white robes beat waist-high drums as the...more

Chief of Nkwantakese, Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, performs a traditional dance in front of members of a heritage tour group visiting his village, in Ashanti region. In a small courtyard, musicians in black-and-white robes beat waist-high drums as the chief, his wrist stacked with chunky gold bracelets, performed a ritual dance under a large fringed parasol spun above him by an attendant. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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A member of a heritage tour group shakes hands with Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, Chief of Nkwantakese, inside his palace in Ashanti region. The tour group lined up to greet the chief one by one. After stooping to shake his hand, Sanchez returned to her seat. Almost in surprise, she reached up to catch a tear sliding from beneath her glasses. She pulled a crumpled tissue from her handbag and dabbed her eyes. "I certainly didn't expect to cry. I studied this. ... I'm actually crying?" she said afterward.

REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

A member of a heritage tour group shakes hands with Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, Chief of Nkwantakese, inside his palace in Ashanti region. The tour group lined up to greet the chief one by one. After stooping to shake his hand, Sanchez returned to her...more

A member of a heritage tour group shakes hands with Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, Chief of Nkwantakese, inside his palace in Ashanti region. The tour group lined up to greet the chief one by one. After stooping to shake his hand, Sanchez returned to her seat. Almost in surprise, she reached up to catch a tear sliding from beneath her glasses. She pulled a crumpled tissue from her handbag and dabbed her eyes. "I certainly didn't expect to cry. I studied this. ... I'm actually crying?" she said afterward. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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Staff bearer stands at the palace of Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, Chief of Nkwantakese, as he welcomes members of a heritage tour group. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Staff bearer stands at the palace of Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, Chief of Nkwantakese, as he welcomes members of a heritage tour group. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Staff bearer stands at the palace of Nana Boakye Yam Ababio II, Chief of Nkwantakese, as he welcomes members of a heritage tour group. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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A child is seen in the door frame on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Coast. As Sanchez and her daughter prepared to fly home from Ghana, Sylvester talked excitedly about her hope that black people in the diaspora might eventually take subsidized trips back to Africa similar to the "Birthright" program that offers Jewish youth from around the world a free trip to Israel.

REUTERS/Kweku Obeng

A child is seen in the door frame on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Coast. As Sanchez and her daughter prepared to fly home from Ghana, Sylvester talked excitedly about her hope that black people in the diaspora might eventually take...more

A child is seen in the door frame on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Coast. As Sanchez and her daughter prepared to fly home from Ghana, Sylvester talked excitedly about her hope that black people in the diaspora might eventually take subsidized trips back to Africa similar to the "Birthright" program that offers Jewish youth from around the world a free trip to Israel. REUTERS/Kweku Obeng
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Members of a heritage tour group stand near a statue of Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah in Accra. "Everyone has a homeland. People go, 'Oh I'm from Ireland, I'm from Scotland.' Being African American, I tell people I'm from New Orleans, like that's where I was born, you know?" she said. "There's something healing about being here, eating the food, meeting the people -- it's the missing piece of the puzzle that connects you to who you really are."

REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Members of a heritage tour group stand near a statue of Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah in Accra. "Everyone has a homeland. People go, 'Oh I'm from Ireland, I'm from Scotland.' Being African American, I tell people I'm from New Orleans, like...more

Members of a heritage tour group stand near a statue of Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah in Accra. "Everyone has a homeland. People go, 'Oh I'm from Ireland, I'm from Scotland.' Being African American, I tell people I'm from New Orleans, like that's where I was born, you know?" she said. "There's something healing about being here, eating the food, meeting the people -- it's the missing piece of the puzzle that connects you to who you really are." REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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Members of a heritage tour group take part in a traditional dance performance at Ghana's National Theatre in Accra. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Members of a heritage tour group take part in a traditional dance performance at Ghana's National Theatre in Accra. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

Members of a heritage tour group take part in a traditional dance performance at Ghana's National Theatre in Accra. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko
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