By Mara Schiavocampo, NBC Nightly News digital correspondent
I have just landed in Ghana's capital city, Accra. On Friday, President Obama will also touch down here, for his first presidential visit to sub-Saharan Africa (he was in Egypt last month). If history is any guide, he will be greeted like a rock star, times ten. When Presidents Clinton and Bush 43 visited (in 1998 and 2008, respectively), thousands swarmed the streets to welcome them. Because Obama is the son of a Kenyan, many Africans consider him a native son, and they can't wait to give him a hero's welcome when he arrives as the US' first African-American President. Just the announcement of his upcoming visit was front-page news.
This trip is not only significant for Africans, but for African-Americans as well. While in Ghana, President Obama and the First Lady (and maybe their girls, Sasha and Malia) will be stopping at a former slave castle along the coast. These dungeons are where Africans were brought and kept - sometimes for months at a time - before making the horrifying trans-Atlantic voyage to the Americas. Africa's west coast is lined with these remnants of a tragic past. They all have a so-called "door of no return," the doorway through which Africans passed before being loaded onto ships. An estimated 12-25 million people passed through those doors. Not one of them ever saw their home or their families again. Not one.
Imagine then, the symbolic significance of the descendant of one of those slaves, returning as First Lady of the world's superpower. What a powerful moment it will be.
Producer Anthony Galloway and I will be covering this historic trip as many different ways as possible. Of course there will be tons of video which we'll be filing for Nightly News and the Nightly News Web site. We'll be blogging regularly right here and posting original text pieces at www.TheGrio.com. And what would any multi-media reporting trip be without the media's new best friend, Twitter? You can follow our tweets here or directly at Twitter: @NightlyNews.