Story: Times Reporter
This year’s PANAFEST and Emancipation Day celebration was launched in Accra on Monday.
The two-week event starting from July 23, is under the theme: ‘Re-uniting the African family: Challenges and prospects’.
The Pan African Historical Theatre Festival Project (PANAFEST) was mooted by the late Mrs. Efua Sutherland in the mid 1980s as a cultural vehicle for bringing together Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora around issues of slavery, which remained suppressed.
Activities for the event include wreath-laying ceremonies, an international concert, grand durbar of chiefs and people of Cape Coast, visit to historical sites in Cape Coast and Elmina, the symbolic crossing of River Pra, a redemption march and reverential night. The programme will be climaxed with Emancipation Day celebration at Assin Manso on August 1.
Launching it, the Minister of Tourism, Ms. Akua Sena Dansua, said the government saw PANAFEST as a major national event, which should be sustained.
She said the festival was premised on the fact that the arts, particularly theatre, were powerful tools of communication and healing that people needed to express themselves, dialogue and mobilise their energies to move to greater heights.
Ms. Dansua said this year’s event would re-examine the role of the Great African ancestors, their pioneering spirit of promoting Pan-African liberation and unity, as well as valiant contemporary efforts to innovate individuals, communities and countries to bring into being an alternative world.
She said there would be a colloquium to renew the role PANAFEST had been playing and would continue to play in sustaining the magnificent legacy of the African and leveraging it for growth, as well as provide stakeholders the opportunity to contribute to the grand official celebration of the 10th edition of the festival in 2012.
Ms. Dansua said since 1994, the festival had attracted the participation of people from across the globe and had been recognized as an international event, which made Ghana a motivational attraction for African people.
The minister said Ghana’s coastline was dotted with many now silent memorials of over 500 years of that most turbulent era in Africa’s history.
“PANAFEST consciously allows for these sites to be used to confront the effects of enslavement, purging the pain of the diaspora, acknowledging the residual effects of the trade on the continent and re-uniting all affected people so as to forge a positive future in the contemporary global environment,” Ms Dansua added.
She said alongside the healing processes, PANAFEST celebrated the strengths and resilience of African culture and achievements of Africans in spite of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its aftermath.
Ms. Dansua said the joint celebrate of PANAFEST and Emancipation Day was a powerful re-awakening event aimed especially at Africans in the Diaspora to retrace their steps to the Motherland, African and also afforded the people of Ghana the opportunity to renew their bounds with their brothers and sisters in the diaspora.
The Ghanaian Times Page: Back Page Wednesday, June 29, 2011