December is typically considered the time to wind down and celebrate the holidays. Still, in Africa, this is the time of celebration with Detty December, where people from across the diaspora come together for a season of partying, music and festivals. Though from the outside looking, this occasion is the time to let loose and party.
It’s also a time for Zillennials to connect with their roots through a different lens. Over the years, what once was a gatekept celebration has become a moment for Black people across the diaspora to return home and experience Africa. According to Global Newswire, African American travelers’ economic value increased in 2018 to $63 billion from $48 billion in 2010. African American “cultural” travelers are the highest spenders, with an average per trip spend of $2,078 versus $1,345 for all African American travelers.
Through the festive period of Detty December, cities like Lagos and Accra become hubs for Black joy. Known as the Year of Return, the event has become a staple for nightlife and culture during the holiday season. The celebration was rumored to have originated in 2004 at the Calabar Carnival. Since the extravaganza, December became the month for the continent to gain traction through tourism and economics.
Originally popular in Lagos, Nigeria, the occasion has expanded into Ghana to share the experience for Detty December attendees for the first time. According to BBC, at the beginning of 2019, the Ghana Tourism Authority predicted the Year of Return would attract 500,000 extra visitors.
“Our goal is to be able to touch all parts of the continent,” Abdul Karim Abdullah, AfroFuture’s New York–born CEO and cofounder, told ESSENCE. “So we’re also doing a lot more events involving Francophone Africa and Southern Africa. A lot of our global markets don’t have experiences that are similar to what we’re doing in Ghana, so this is our opportunity to market to the festival more broadly and tell them about what’s happening and what we’re doing.”
Not only are people in the United States making more of a mission to connect with others overseas, but corporations are also following suit. United Airlines began debuting new schedules and adding new services, including flying to 37 cities in Europe, Africa, India and the Middle East. This shift gives travelers easier access and a direct route to Africa.
“Next summer, United is offering the best of both worlds: we’re making it easier for our customers to visit the most popular cities in Europe, but we’re also expanding our reach to give travelers access to new places they haven’t yet experienced,” Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of global network United said in a statement. “We expect another busy summer for international travel and are proud to build on our industry-leading global network to offer our customers the widest range of destinations and most convenient travel options.”
Though the pandemic shifted the travel system since then, we’ve seen people become more intentional about traveling, and Detty December is no different. For Gen Z’ers, traveling evolved from simple local vacations to full-on events, and through the continuing tradition of Detty December, this generation and the next have the opportunity to create new memories and get in touch with other Zillennials across the diaspora. The celebration opens intergenerational bonding and serves as an economic boost for these countries to gain a larger tourism market during the holiday season.
About Kenyatta: Clark Atlanta University and Medill School alumna Kenyatta Victoria is the Girls United writer covering everything from news, pop culture, lifestyle, and investigative stories. When not reporting, she’s diving deep into her curated playlists or binging her favorite comfort shows.