Press Release – Nov 1, 2015 – Freedom University Makes Historic Visit, Ties with Ecuador

Freedom University Keta Press Release

African University’s Historic Visit to Ecuador Profiles Afro-Ecuadorian Ties

Ghana Institution Creates Key Cooperative Agreements with Ecuadorian Universities

Keta, Ghana – November 1, 2015: Freedom University Keta continues to build alliances and outreach across the globe. Today, we are proud to announce new cooperative educational and development agreements stemming from a recent historic trip to Esmeraldas, Ecuador. These agreements with the government of Ecuador, the Universidad Tecnica LUIS VARGAS TORRES DE ESMERALDAS, and The Catholic University of Esmeraldas will create opportunities for students from Ecuador to participate in the recently announced Freedom Corps Ghana Pioneers program, a two week immersive educational slave studies tour, based in Keta, heart of the Slave Coast of Africa.

Directors from Freedom University were recently welcomed in Esmeraldas, Ecuador for two weeks of tours and ministerial-level meetings to discuss partnership possibilities.

“The team was welcomed by the local Government Department responsible for History and African Heritage, together with the Ecuadorian Ministry of Interior, and the Mayor of Esmeraldas,” said Fortune Norris Addor, co-Founder of Freedom University Keta. “Ours is the very first African institution in the history of Ecuador to visit Esmeraldas to both establish partnerships and also document the Afro-Ecuadorian historic connections and shared heritage represented in the people of Esmeraldas, living descendants of slavery from Africa.”

Many Afro-Ecuadorians trace their ancestral, cultural and musical roots back to the mid-16th century, when a ship carrying African slaves ran aground off the Ecuadorian coast. Those slaves revolted and escaped to land, where they established a thriving settlement in what is known as present-day Esmeraldas. The settlement attracted other escaped slaves from various parts of Spanish-ruled South America. Later, Jesuit missionaries established sugar plantations and imported further slaves from Africa to provide labor.

The people of Esmeraldas have, over the past 400+ years, maintained their original African cultural influences through the creation of a hybrid culture best expressed in their vivacious marimba music. Marimba is celebrated in annual festivals that attract tourists from around the globe.

“Video footage of the Freedom University visit to Esmeraldas, including all cultural tours, interviews and musical heritage studies, was captured for use in an upcoming Freedom University documentary that will profile the unique Afro-Ecuadorian connection,” said Addor.

About Freedom University Keta

Freedom University Keta was founded in 2013 by Fortune Norris Addor and Michael Flannery, with the addition of Gavin P. Smith, Executive Director and Consultant to the Board, in early 2015. The directors are bolstered by support from their Advisory Board, a dream team of scholars, historians and scientists. These include Harvard Professor of History, and African and African-American Studies, Emmanuel Akyeampong, distinguished scientist and former Chancellor of Central College Ghana, Victor Gadzekpo, Professor Elysée Soumonni of the Université Nationale du Bénin, Professor Kodzo Gavua of the University of Ghana, Accra, and Professor Sandra Green of Cornell University.

The founders of Freedom University Keta have worked tirelessly to establish a sustainable polytechnic institution through sheer entrepreneurial bootstrapping and sweat equity. As a result, Freedom University is poised to become the preeminent slave studies institution in Africa. For more information, please visit www.FreedomGhana.org.