Atlanta was the place to be when people from around the world descended on the city for the 2013/14 African Diaspora World Tourism Award and Travel Expo in April. The first ever-ever historic event, which took place at tadt presentershe Atlanta Airport Marriott, was a success in that professionals in the cultural tourism industry and other organizations got to network and exchange ideas. The week-end event consisted of the awards ceremony, an Africana Extravaganza of cultural performances and cuisine, a Hall of Fame Luncheon and a cultural heritage travel expo. Celebrated, Emmy-award winning Monica Kaufman Pearson was the host of the awards ceremony.

The awards gala ceremony was on that Saturday evening where the crowning award for 'Person of the Year' went to Dr. Ewart Brown of Bermuda.  He received the highest honor because of the work that he has done in re-igniting interest in preserving, developing and promoting African Diaspora heritage trails around the world. Dr. Brown took up the mantle that was the brainchild of the late David Allen, former minister of tourism of Bermuda, who initiated the African Diaspora Heritage Trails (ADHT) Conferences. Dr. Brown, a medical doctor who was once the Premiere of Bermuda and also the Minister of Tourism carried on the work of black culture and heritage tourism development with ADHT for almost ten years, where he once served as chairman. 
The other major award "Heritage Site of the Year" went to the King Center/ National Parks Services in Atlanta. The King Center has remained one of the most visited black heritage sites in the world, second only to the King Memorial site in Washington, DC. Accepting this award for the King Center was Ms. Naomi King, widow of AD King who was a freedom fighter and brother to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dignitaries and professionals from around the world came to the three day event that was organized brown and mariaby Kitty J. Pope, publisher in association with the AD King Foundation and its CEO Dr. Babs Onabanjo. Event attendees came from as far away as South Africa and Germany. Countries represented also included Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahamas, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Ghana, Republic of Benin, Canada, Nigeria,Liberia, Brazil, London as well as many cities from all over the US.
The opening event was the cultural heritage travel expo that took place at the historic Fire Station museum at the King Center. The networking opening event was prefaced with the drumming sounds of Sulaiman Kutay, the co-founder of the Rakaba Institute of Art and Culture in Atlanta. Exhibitors included the Atlanta Conventions and Visitor's Bureau, Tubman Museum of Macon Georgia, the Great Blacks in Wax Museum of Baltimore, Yates Tours of South Africa, Black Meetings and Tourism of Los Angeles, African American Heritage Fund of Washington, DC, Bojo Resorts of Ghana, Nirvana Teas of Michigan, and National Juneteenth Observance Foundation of Mississippi and the Travel Professionals of Color (TPOC) with chapters all over the US. 
After the opening travel expo was the Africana Extravaganza of cultural performers and African Cuisine which included the noted musician Jah Baba from Benin, Linda Antognini's Project Tupac Art Exhibit from Seattle and Sharon Parris-Chambers' from Jamaica "One Love' Prose/Pledge. Local talents included prose from Coach Ken Woods, an inspirational poet/ motivational speaker and youth counselor. Alayze, four teen females from Atlanta received a standing ovation after harmonizing the Black National Anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Also singing from Atlanta was nine year old Gigi Brown who amazed the audience with her voice range.
kitty4Mrs Naomi King, who along with Joe Beasley was honorary co-chair, delivered the welcome speech where she said, “This is a great moment the good Lord has reserved for the blacks all over the world to meet and share of the glory of their past. . . Welcome to the First Africans Diaspora World Tourism Award events.” The cultural event ended with Benin cuisine  prepared by the Africana Extravaganza coordinator Diane Cameron.
The following morning some event attendees toured the Historic King Center and some attended the Nigerians in the Diaspora Conference at Georgia Technical Institute. The Hall of Fame BENIN DELEGATION ARRIVES IN aTLLuncheon took place later at noon, where guest were entertained  by the Children's Choir of Uganda accompanied by the Ambassador of Uganda and former Mayor of Macon Jack Ellis. Hall of Fame members present were inducted into the Hall of Fame where they received certificates of honor.
Among those honored in the Hall of Fame in addition to Dr.Ewart Brown of Bermuda were Solomon and Gloria Herbert, publishers of the world first black travel magazine; Rev. Dr. Ron Myers, the founder and coordinator of the National Juneteenth Observance Movement; Dr. Bettye Yates, founder of Yates Tours and the Bettye Yates Foundation; Minister Percy Paris, director of tourism and African Affairs in Canada; Minister Jean-Michel Abimbola, Minister of Culture and Tourism from Benin; Prince Kum'a Ndumbe III, founder of Africavenir from Cameroon, Ms. Maria Baryamujura, founder director of  COBATI from Uganda; Hon. Kenneth Gbandi, founder of African Heritage Magazine from Germany; Dr. Joanne Martin, founder of the Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore, and Ogo Sow, Africa's Culture in Ambassador from Senegal currently living in Atlanta. GARVEY AT AWARDS EVENTThe awards ceremony that evening was the icing on the cake of this three-day celebration dedicated to the honorable nationalist Marcus Garvey.  Attendees came all decked out in evening attire and dressy African outfits. In addition to the Hall of Fame Honorees, honored guests in attendance included Mayor Omar Neal of Nashville, Tennessee, Charlotte Haymore and Betty Jones, founders of Travel Professionals of Color, Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile, adviser to the Minister ocalvinf Culture from South Africa, former Bahamas Minister of Tourism Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Akin Onipede, representative from the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation,  Royal Majesty, Oba Bernard Akinrimisi, the first Oba of the African Diaspora and Stephanie Marley, daughter of Bob Marley along with her daughter Donisha Prendergrast.


The ceremony began with the red carpet walk in by Hall of Famers and honored guests. Monica Kaufman Pearson, the Mistress of Ceremony gave a candid warm-hearted opening so indicative of her spirited personality. Award recipients proudly walked to the stage to retrieve their well-deserved plaques. For the half-time intermission, attendees got to witness a re-enactment of Marcus Garvey performed by Ron Bobb Semple who seemed to have stole the show with his fiery rhetoric with appeal that made you feel like the nationalist hero had been resurrected. That evening ended with an acceptance speeches by Dr. Brown for the Person of the Year Award and Ms. Naomi King for the King Center/NPS Heritage Site of the Year.


Top Photos: 1) Kitty Pope, founder/director; Dr. Babs Onabanjo, producer;  Kristina Pope, Associate director and Ashlea Pope, Associate producer 2) Dr. Ewart Brown of Bermuda, Person-of-the-year and Maria Baryamujura, Hall of Famer from Uganda 3) Diane Cameron and Ms. Naomi King 4) Delegation from Benin arrives in Atlanta, 5) Ron Bob Semple 6) Calvin Person of Virginia with Royal Majesty Oba Bernard Akinrimisi of Nigeria.

  benin saxaphonist


For more photos, click here.

                                   Following is the list of winners in each Category:


                         2013/ 14 African Diaspora World Tourism Awards Winners
Person of the Year: Dr. Ewart Brown (Bermuda)
Heritage Site of the Year: King Center/National Parks Service (Atlanta, USA)
Other award recipients are as follows:
(below in red)
Honorary African Diaspora World Tourism Awards
These ten awards are in honor of outstanding trailblazers who have helped to clear the path for black cultural heritage tourism development.
1) Outstanding Tour Operator Award - This award is in honor of Freddy and Jake Henderson of the USA, the first black tour operators in the US to start taking groups to Africa.  -Dr. Betty Yates, founder of Yates Tours and the Bettye Yates Foundation  (USA/South Africa)
2) Outstanding Scholar - This award is in honor of Dr. Yosef Alfredo Antonio Ben-Jochannan, an Ethiopian, prominent Afro-centric scholars who devoted much of his life to highlighting the indigenous origins of African civilizations.
-Prince Kum'a Ndumbe, III founder of AfricAvenir Int. (Cameroon)
3)Outstanding Researcher - This award is named in honor of Cheikh Anta Diop, a noted Senegalese historian in the development of the 'Afro-centric' view and the theory that the ancient Egyptians were black Africans. 
-Paula Royster, Founder/CEO of The Center For African American Genealogical Research, Inc (USA)
4)Outstanding Professor/Lecturer - This award is in honor of Dr. John Henri Clark, an American scholar, educator and the founder and first president of the African Heritage Studies Association who obtained his doctorate degree at the age of 78. 
-Dr. Molefi Asante, Author, professor at Temple University (USA)
5)Outstanding African Diaspora Heritage Trail - This award is in honor of Dr. David Allen and Dr. Ewart Brown of Bermuda who put in place the African Diaspora Heritage Trails conference and reignited interest in preserving and visiting black cultural heritage sites.
- Bermuda African Diaspora Heritage Trail (Bermuda)  
- Richmond, Virginia Slave Trail (USA) 
6)Outstanding Cultural Center - This award is in honor of the USA's iconic world sports hero Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie for his legacy, and for both of them working together to establish one of the foremost cultural heritage centers in the world. 
- W.E.B. Dubois Center (Ghana)
7)Outstanding Carnivals/ Festivals - This award is named in honor of Claudia Jones, London-based civil rights activist and founder of the Nottingham Carnival in the United Kingdom.
- Trinidad and Tobago Carnival (Trinadad) 
8)Outstanding Culture Heritage Book - This award is in honor of Victor Hugo Green, an American postal worker and civic leader who, during the time of segregation, created the first travel guidebook for people of color in the United States that later became known as the Green Book. 
- Chinua Achebe, literary icon, poet, educator (London/Nigeria)  

9) Outstanding Leadership and Good Governance Award - This award is in honor of Nigerian Governor Godswill Akpabio, who has contributed tirelessly to infrastructure to support tourism and tourism development
-Rep John Lewis (USA) -
-Prime Minister Perry Christie (Bahamas)
- Gov. Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo State, Nigeria)  
10) Outstanding Cultural Heritage Tourism Educator - This award is in honor of Dr. Edward W. Robinson, Jr., an American attorney, historian, author and professor, who created the 'African Genesis Theory,' which serves to reunite African-Americans with their true ancestral beginnings and their accomplishments. His work spun many study groups to Africa. 
- African Travel Seminars Tour Company- Georgina Lorencz (USA/West 
11)Outstanding Culture Heritage Events - This award goes to a leader in the community who have done a great job in planning cultural heritage event that educate and entertain the public.
- Janine Bell, Founder/Director Elegba Society (Virginia, USA)
African Diaspora World Tourism VIP Awards

This awards category recognizes VIP's of distinction who have contributed to cultural heritage tourism development.

1)African Ministers of Distinction - This award goes to African ministers of tourism or tourism directors who have done much toward promoting their country on the world stage as well as their culture and heritage in such a way as to significantly influence tourism.
- MinisterJean-Michel Abimbola (Benin)
- Minister Paul Mashatile (South Africa)
- Minister Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie (Gambia) 

2)Caribbean Tourism Director/Minister of Distinction - This award goes to Caribbean minister of tourisms or tourism directors who have done much toward promoting their country on the world stage and also their culture and heritage.
- Director General Carrole Guntley (Jamaica)
3)Tourism Executive of Distinction - This award goes to tourism professionals who have made efforts and inroads in the tourism industry in such a way that has enhanced the development and promotion of black travel and black cultural heritage tourism. 
- Minister Percy Paris, Director of Tourism, Nova Scotia (Canada)   
- Michael Munn, director Boston Convention Marketing (Mass. USA)
4) Cultural Heritage Preservationists of Distinction - This award goes to persons who have taken it upon themselves to start initiatives, campaigns and/or fundraisers for historic sites in order to rebuild, enhance, preserve and protect a site that may otherwise have completely deteriorated or gone unrecognized.  
- Calvin Pearson, First African Landing Project (Virginia, USA)
- Jose Francisco Avila,  Chairman of Garifuna Coalition (Honduras/USA) 

5)Cultural HeritageTour Operator of Distinction - This awards go to travel agents and tour operators who have excelled in promoting black cultural heritage tourism and tourism to Africa and its diaspora.
- Henderson Travel Agency (USA) Gaynelle Henderson                              
- ACT Tours -
Salif Badine (Senegal)
6) Travel Association of Distinction - This award goes to an association or organization that has promoted black travel and cultural tourism, and has educated the public about of cultural tourism.
 - Travel Professionals of Color (TPOC) (USA)
    Founders: Charlotte Haymore and Betty Jones
7) Slavery Reconciliation and Healing Leader of Distinction -
This awards goes to leaders who have worked hard to heal and commemorate the legacy of slavery in the United States.
- Rev. Ron Myers, Founder/Leader of National Juneteenth Movement (USA)
- Del. Delores McQuinn, Virginia General Assembly  (USA) 
    African Diaspora World Tourism Flame Keepers Awards
These awards are for media, the culture arts, organizations and institutions.
Flame Keepers in Media 
1) Tourism Radio and Broadcast Award - This award is for founders and hosts of radio and broadcast programs about black culture and heritage in Africa and the places of the African Diaspora, thereby promoting visitation and tourism.
- Ogo Sow, West Africa Tourism Radio (Senegal / USA) 
2) Print Publication - This award is for magazines and print publications that have done much toward promoting black travel, and black cultural and heritage tourism.
- Black Meetings and Tourism Magazine, Solomon and Gloria Herbert,
   publishers (USA)
 -African Heritage Magazine - Kenneth Gbandi, publisher (Germany) 
3) OnlinePublication - The award is for websites and online media that have done much toward promoting black travel, and black cultural and heritage tourism.
-Soul of America, Thomas Dorsey, publisher (USA)
-Positive Tourism,Theo and Sharon Chambers, publishers (Jamaica) -
4) Travel Social Media and Bloggers - This award goes to travel-related social networks and blogs that have created unique platforms that have significantly generated interactions among travel enthusiasts.
- Greg Gross - I'm Black and I Travel Blog (USA)
- Evita Robinson - Nomadness Travel Tribe (USA) 
5)Travel Writer/Photo-Journalist - This award goes to the writers and photo-journalists who have published extensively and have done much toward educating the public about black culture and heritage sites while also promoting tourism.
-Stephanie Renee Gordon (USA) 
-Elaine Lee (USA)  
6) Film or Documentary- This award goes to broadcasts or film about black culture and heritage that serves to stimulate tourism. 
-Elvin Ross - for "Kunta Kinteh Island: Coming Home Without Shackles" (USA) 
-Patricia Scarlett for "Rasta: A Soul's Journey" (Canada) 
7) Resource Guide - This award goes to online and print media sources that have served as guides with information in the fields of black heritage, culture and history which will assist in the promotion of African Diaspora Tourism.                                  
-Black Past
Dr. Quintard Taylor (USA)
-Black Culture Archives - Paul Reid (United Kingdom)

Flame Keepers in Cultural Arts

 8) Culture Exhibit - This award goes to cultural exhibits that explain, showcase and educate the public on some important aspect of the African Diaspora cultural heritage and history.

- Heinz Museum for the From Slavery to Freedom Exhibit (USA) 
- Apex Museum for Africa: The Untold Story (USA) 
9) Cultural Performances - This award goes to dance and musical performance groups who serve to educate the public about the richness and uniqueness of African cultural heritage while providing entertainment.
-Elegba Society (USA)  
-Freetong Players International (Sierra Leone)
10) Cultural Visual Artist - This award goes to artists including painters, sculptures and crafters whose work depict or represent some aspect of black culture and has sparked public interest enough to impact visitation numbers.
-Donald Brown for "Strugggle for Change" (United Kingdom)  
-Gilbert Young for "He' Ain't Heavy" (USA)
11) Artistic Designers - This goes to artists who have done great works of art in designing statues, busts, or symbolic structures depicting some aspect of black cultural heritage for historic sites in African Diaspora Tourism.
- Marco Cianfanelli for Nelson Mandela Design (South Africa)
- Stephen Broadbent for Slave Reconciliation Stature (United Kingdom)
Flame Keepers - Organizations

 12) Tourism Organization/ Associations - This award goes to a tourism-related organization that has contributed significantly to the enhancement, promotion or preservation of black cultural sites and the stimulation of travel.                    

-Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism Tourism Alliance  
-Benin Agency for Reconciliation and Development
13) Official Tourism Boards and Corporations - This award goes to the country's or city's official tourism boards that have done much toward enhancing and promoting black culture and heritage trails and sites in their destinations.
- State of Alabama for the Civil Rights Heritage Trail and for the nation's 
   first black heritage guidebook in USA 

- Richmond Conventions and Visitors Bureau for its Black Heritage and 
   Slave trail (USA)
14) Affiliate Organizations for Tourism - This award goes to non-tourism organizations that have significantly supported black culture and heritage tourism related initiatives, centers, campaigns and conferences.
- Durban Declaration and Program Action
, founder Dowoti Desir (Haiti)
- World African Diaspora Union (WADU)  

Flame Keepers - Institutions
15) Art Gallery - This award goes to art galleries that have exemplary paintings, sculptures and art displays depicting black culture, heritage and life styles that have generated traffic in their galleries and thereby contributing to tourism.
- Sonja Griffin's Gumbo Gallery (Florida, USA)
- IFAN Museum of African Arts (Senegal) 

16) Cultural Heritage Museum - The award goes to museums that have shown creative, ingenuity and uniqueness in educating the public about black cultural heritage and inspiring visitation and tourism.
- Nelson Mandela Museum (South Africa)
- Great Blacks in Wax Museum- founders Dr. Elmer and Joanne Martin 
17) African Diaspora Tourism Educational Institution - This award goes to institutions or organizations that have contributed to black culture and heritage in such a way as to stimulate tourism and other accomplishments such as cultural programs, study abroad programs and black studies groups.
- Pan African Cultural Institute / National Cultural Heritage Center, 
  founder,  Rev. Eugene Franklin (USA)
 -Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Dr. Khalil Muhammad 

For more travel news, visit