THE 2ND PAN-AFRICAN FEST1VAL
… AN APPRAISAL
By: MICHAEL AKENOO
The Second Pan African Cultural Festival held in Algiers, Algeria, ended on July 20, 2009 last week. The three-week long festival was characterized with much pomp and pageantry that showed to the world the rich cultures of the various people inhabiting the continent of Africa. In all, 53 African countries including Ghana were represented at the festival.
The First Pan African Cultural Festival was held in the same city in July 1969. One of the likely important questions that will be posed in all the discussions and views concerning the just ended second Pan African Festival of Culture will be to what extent in terms of impact are these two Cultural festivals making the millions of African people living on the African continent today who are suffering economic hardships, hunger, malnutrition and squalor?
The African continent today is saddled with hydra-headed socio-economic problems in the midst of European exploitation. At present, the HIV scourge is raging all over the continent increasing the misery of Africans whose continent is naturally endowed with all the natural resources that have the potential of making the African continent one of the richest continents in the world if not the richest! Alas, Africa is still struggling as the poorest continent in the world today despite the vast rich natural resource that the continent is endowed with.
It is a fact that the destiny of the African people lies in the hands of the African people themselves; and for this reason, the continent will still be struggling and suffering in the midst of its vast rich natural resources if Africans do not make a bold attempt to redeem themselves by tapping and exploiting these resources for their benefit. And this can achieved through the development of the African culture.
A developed culture is a pre-requisite to development and for this reason, the African culture can be developed and refined to give enlightment to the African people and serve the cause of their advancement. The African culture is therefore a panacea for the enlightment of Africans and their liberations from ignorance poverty neo-colonialism and exploitation. The African culture must be developed now in order to pave way for the full development of the African continent.
One of the ways in which the African continent can be developed for the African continent is the periodic holding of cultural festivals like the just ended PANAF. It is therefore imperative that PANAF should be well organized and presented in order to meet the positive aspirations of the African people today. PANAF must therefore be tailored in such a way as to ensure that it is realistic and pragmatic to serve the continents needs.
In order to realise the development for the African continent, the PANAF and any other cultural festivals that are held on the African continent must be geared to make strong impact and precipitate progress and development. If cultural festivals are designed for the mere show of pageantry and entertainment only, there will be no benefits to derive from them in terms of the preset struggles of the African people to develop their continent.
To this end, PANAF and other cultural festivals should have an effective mechanism to document and to appraise contemporary African Cultural Values and Practices in order to ensure that they are positive and progressive to enhance Africa's struggles for total liberation from neo-colonialism, poverty and under development.
This approach in terms of cultural festivals like the just ended PANAF will make them more realistic, meaningful and positive to precipitate development for the African continent and bring economic prosperity.
On the whole, PANAF was a great success, especially in the area of the security system which prevailed during the festival. However, one of the major shortcomings and flaws at the PANAF was that of racism, which reared its ugly head among the Algerians and other Arab nationals who by virtue of their skin looked down upon their fellow black Africans from countries like Ghana, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, etc. In fact, the issue of racism must be wiped out now in other to enhance the spirit of Pan Africanism on the African continent. It is very strange and disheartening to see Arab nationals from countries like Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Egypt, etc. looking down on their fellow black Africans and seeing themselves as superior human beings by virtue of their white skins! Pan Africanism will be greatly promoted in Africa when racism which is often exhibited by white Africans is completely eradicated from the continent.
The PANAF festival should certainly be a means to unite Africans and help them to take their destiny in their own hands and strive together to rid the continent of poverty, suffering, disease, hunger, economic dependence on the West, etc. if this is the rationale behind the organising of PANAF and other cultural festivals on the continent then, the white skinned Africans on the African continent should change their mentality and see their fellow Black Africans as their brothers and sisters who have one common destiny with them. When this is done, PANAF and other cultural festivals will begin to reflect the true spirit of Pan Africanism for the benefit of all Africans on the continent, and this will certainly trigger the speedy development and liberate it from European domination and exploitation.
Ghanaian Times - page: 11 Saturday, August 8, 2009