The 2013 PANAFEST and Emancipation Day celebrations was on Wednesday launched to kick-start activities lined up for this year’s programme.
The celebration, on the theme: “Re-uniting the African family; Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance, is aimed at assessing the current pattern of aligned African States and peoples, inclusive of the African Diaspora worldwide.
Mrs Elizerbeth Ofosu Adjare, Minister of Tourism Culture and Creative Arts, said the event is designed to help Africans to reconnect their strengths and rededicate themselves to fully assume their own destiny in recognition of the lessons of history.
She said the celebration allows for Ghana’s coastlines, dotted with now silent memorials of over 500 years, to be used to confront the effects of enslavement, purging the pain of Diaspora, acknowledging the residual effects of slave trade on the continent and re-uniting all affected people to forge a positive future in the contemporary global environment.
Mrs Ofosu Adjare noted that this year’s event coincided with two landmark events in Africa’s liberation, the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity and the 50th anniversary of the demise of Dr. W.E.B Dubois in Accra.
She said since 1988, PANAFEST had been staged alongside the celebration of Emancipation day, which is an annual observation introduced in Ghana, as the first African nation to help commemorate the resistance and liberation struggle of African people in the Diaspora against enslavement and the violation of their human rights.
“The joint celebration of PANAFEST and Emancipation Day are a powerful re-awakening event, aimed especially at Africans in the Diaspora to retract their steps to the Motherland, Africa, a phenomenon welcomed and accepted by Ghanaians and which also affords us the opportunity to renew our bond with our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora,” she said.
She noted that the Emancipation Day was a conscious call to all Africans and the people of African descent to become more committed to the emancipation of the entire African continent from slavery, especially in areas where it still exists and to engage themselves more meaningfully in the development of the African continent.
Professor Esi Sutherland-Addy, Member, PANAFEST Foundation, said PANAFEST was a landmark festival which addresses the most traumatic interruption that ever occurred in the natural evolution of African societies.
“Emancipation from slavery, the fight for civil rights in the Diaspora, national liberation struggles, independence from colonial rule, the tribulations and triumphs of Africa and its descendants provide the ethos for the festival”, she added.
Some activities lined for the celebration include a symbolic return journey and Akwaaba ceremonies at the Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, a Trade Fair or Bazaar at the PANAFEST Village in Cape Coast, a grand durbar of kings and queens and the celebration of OAU/AU at 50 and PANAFEST at 21.
Also there would be visits to historical sites in Cape Coast and Elmina, the symbolic crossing of the River Pra, a Redemption March, and a Reverential Night, which includes a candle light prossession through the Cape Coast Castle.
There would also be a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Emancipation Day at Assin Manso, and the climax of the celebrations with the AU @ 50/PANAFEST high level dialogue on Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance.