AFRICA RE –UNITES WITH DIASPORA AT PANAFEST
History will always light the path for the present and future generation to decide on their destiny.
This history is not about waiting and gnashing of teeth which was associated with slavery, but a solemn remembrance of the event which brought the resilience of the African to the fore.
It is, therefore, not surprising that Ghana, which has been and continues to be the trailblazer of the African descent, in 1992 decided to use the Pan – African Historical Theatre festival (PANAFEST) to bring together Africans and African – Americans in the Diaspora.
In line with the dream of the pioneering leaders of PANAFEST and Emancipation Day celebration commenced in the Central Region last Monday, with a durbar of chiefs at Cape Coast.
The festival aims at establishing the history about the history of Africa and the experience of its people, using the vehicle of arts and culture to provide a forum to promote unity between Africans and Africans Diaspora.
This year’s celebration, on the theme ‘Re-uniting the African family: Challenges and prospects, is bringing together participants, from Trinidad and Tobago, the United States of America, Canada and the Caribbean Islands.
Among the activities held as part of the celebration was a two-day colloquium at the University of Cape Coast where various speakers reiterated the need for the continent and Africans in the Diaspora.
The speakers included Professor Kofi Awoonor, chairman of the Council of State; Dr. Mohammed Ben Abdallah, Board chairman of PANAFEST Foundation, and Prof. Raymond N. Osei of the Classics and Philosophy Department, University of Cape Coast.
A Reverential, University Night is scheduled for the Cape Coast Castle tonight as a prelude to the Emancipation Day celebration next month.
The Day, to be observed at Assin Manso in the Assin South District of the Central Region will be climaxed with another durbar of chiefs.
As part of the day, participants will visit the “Slave River” (Donkor Nsuo) where slaves from the hinterland had their last bath before they were taken to the Cape Coast and Elmina Castles to begin their new journeys of pain and misery, referred to as the ‘journey of no return’.
The Emancipation Day, celebrated annually in the country since 1998, provides an opportunity for Africans o the continent and those of African Descent in the Diaspora to go back to history and find out more about the most cruel act in human history, the effect of which has been with the world ever since.
It will also provide a platform to reflect on the enormous contributions of Marcus Garvey, George Padmore, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Harriet Tubman, the most famous leaders of the Underground Railroad to aid slaves escaping to free states in America and other Pan-Africanist who championed the liberation struggle.
Despite significance and euphoria that characterized the celebration of PANAFEST/Emancipation Day, the celebration seems to have lost its pride as one of the best patronized events for the people.
Conspicuously missing at this year’s event, is the exhibition and food bazaar that used to be part of the past celebrations.
The down-ward trend was re-echoed by President John Evans Atta Mills during the 2009 celebration when he called on the PANAFEST Foundation to work at restoring the event as the leading International Pan African Festival on the continent.
The President further called on Africans in the Diaspora to help create a viable PANAFEDT to serve as a catalyst in building the necessary bridges to the future together.
To achieve its target, the PANAFEST Foundation is using this year’s colloquium to assess and strategise on how to organize effective and memorable events in subsequent years.
This is being done as the country marks the 20 years anniversary of the festival.
Indeed, the atrocities associated with slavery should never be allowed to occur in this world again.
Ghanaian Times Page: 12 Saturday, July 30, 2011