50 African American tourists are set to be given local Nigerian names as they have arrived in Benin City, the Edo state capital, to trace their origin.
The tourists, who arrived Benin from California, United States of America (USA), were entertained by the Benin Cultural Troupe and treated to delicious local African dishes, including palm oil fruits soup (banga), blended vegetable (black) soup, owo soup, pounded yam and agidi (corncake) among others.
Speaking to journalists on the reason for the visit, Mr. Andy Ehanire, a representative of Jemi Alade, organisers of the tour, said the Americans were on a rediscovery visit to trace their root. He added:
“They are coming on a pilgrimage to rediscover the home of their ancestors from where they were taken away more than 400 years ago. It is an emotional visit.”
Ehanire said the tour was organized to showcase that these people share a common ancestral heritage with the Benins, so that more African-Americans will be encouraged to visit Benin City and have a feel of the African culture and discover where their ancestors lived.
“Benin is safe. We are civilised and friendly. The tourists will be taken round the city. They will visit the Oba Palace and the Palace of the Enogie of Ugoneki, where they will be given Benin names so they can add to their existing names.”
He said tourism has the potential to grow the economy of the state, noting that some countries have grown their economy with tourist receipts as they receive almost a million tourists on a monthly basis.
“For a place to attract tourist attention, its culture must be unadulterated, there must be security and knowledgeable tour guards,” Ehanire noted.