COMMITTEE REVIEWS PANAFEST AND EMANCIPATION DAY
By: Godwin Yirenkyi
SHOULD the Pan African Festival of Arts and Culture (PANAFEST) be celebrated annually like Emancipation Day instead of the present bi-annual celebration?
This was one of the main issues that came up for discussion when members of the PANAFEST Foundation and members of the Emancipation Day Planning Committee met the Minister of tourism and her deputy to review the conduct of this year’s event in July-August.
The Minister, Juliana Azumah-Mensah said if properly planned, PANAFEST can be an annual affair and called for ideas, proposals and suggestions from Ghanaians towards the improved celebrations the events.
The Deputy Minister of Tourism Kwabena Akyeampong observed that the main reason behind the difficulty in fund raising for the celebration was due to mainly donor fatigue since the same companies were the ones approached by all event organizers.
He said since the programmes were mostly geared at education, efforts at fund raising should be directed to donor organizations that focus on education.
The Deputy Minister charged the PANAFEST Foundation to develop new business model, use new faces and study the best practices of others for comparisons “because, we want the best”.
On his part, Rabbi Kohain Ha Levi, Chairman of PANAFEST Foundation, said it was Important to blend the two events because they complement one another. He explained that this was because Emancipation Day which started as a Caribbean event in 1834 but has now spread to Africa including Ghana which started on the mother continent and lately by Nigeria and South Africa, together with its adoption by the African Union, has assumed an international dimension that Ghana cannot claim all the attention, hence the marriage with PANAFEST makes it not only necessary but unique.
As to whether the slave trade is still an attractive tourism package, the consensus was that the full story of the episode was still unknown to many Ghanaians hence the urgent need to formulate a long term strategy towards the teaching of the subject in schools to make children understand the full impact of the abominable trade to guard against such a nefarious activity.
Earlier the Minister had disclosed that following a visit of the Cape Coast and Elimina Castles by the Taleb Rifia, Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization during the just ended celebration of the World Tourism day in Ghana, the W.T.O has expressed its readiness to support the Slave Route Project which extends from Ghana to neighbouring countries.
Another issue that came up was the need to spread out the festival to other parts of the country in addition to the over- concentration in Greater Accra and Central Regions.
Other members present included Osabarima Kwasi Atta II, Omanhene of Oguaa Traditional Council and Chairman of PANAFEST Foundation, Nana Kwasi Tandoh, Elimina traditional council, Jimmy Thorne of the African—American Association of Ghana and Michael Attipoe of the National Commission on Culture. There were representatives of the Ghana Caribbean Association, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ghana Tourist Development Company, the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board and the Ghana Tourist Board.
Ghanaian Times — Page: 12 Friday, October 24, 2009