PANAFEST/Emancipation Day celebration commences
By: DAVID YARBOI-TETTEH, Cape Coast
This year’s Historical Theatre Festival (PANAFEST) and Emancipation Day officially open here at the weekend with a call for he PANAFEST Foundation to work in restoring the event as the leading international Pan African Festival in the continent.
The President, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, made the call in a speech read on his behalf, by Mike Hammah, Minister of Transport and urged the Foundation to work with the appropriate agencies in achieving such target which said, could be accomplished with the support of all.
Additionally, he called on Africans in the Diaspora to help create a viable PANAFEST to serve as a catalyst in building the necessary bridges to the future together.
The festival, the ninth in the series is on the theme: Uniting the African family: Communicating the African reality’.
Instituted in 1992, PANAFEST aims at establishing the truth 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 African-Americans.
President Mills stated government’s commitment was to recognize and support the Africa Diaspora forum and also rebuild PANAFEST and Emancipation Day as strong institutions and important dates in the heritage tourism calendar of the country and elsewhere.
“We call on the African Union (AU) to renew its pledge of support for the festival and ensure its sustainability in pursuit of using culture as a means of unifying the African continent”, he said.
Ghana, he said, was committed to the attainment of tangible goals and set targets to ensure recognition by the AU of the Diaspora as the sixth region and a crucial pillar for the development of Africa.
The President commended the organizers of the festival and those who had ensured its sustenance over the years in spite of the difficulties.
He said PANAFEST and Emancipation Day celebrations should bind Africans and their brothers and sisters from the Diaspora together, stressing, “It should be a time for sober reflections on our past and rededication of ourselves as one people with a common heritage”.
“We are the hope of the future generation of African youth and it is imperative that we leave positive footprints for them to follow”, he stressed.
President Mills noted that the organization of PANAFEST and Emancipation Day under one umbrella, would maximize its effectiveness as a pilgrimage festivals for all Africans to visit home and celebrate the heritage of Africa.
The Paramount Chief of Oguaa Traditional Area, Osabarima Kwesi Atta II, who was the chairman for the occasion, called on Africans to tell the story of the continent, saying only Africans can tell their own stories”.
He urged Africans and Africans in the Diaspora to educate their children about the values of the African continent in order for them to know their heritage.
The Minister of Tourism, Juliana Azumah-Mensah, in an address, said this year’s celebration focuses on reawakening the resilience of the ancestors to enable Africans to face the realities of the time.
The celebrations should be targeted at removing some of the misconceptions and negative publicity about Africans, she said.
A representative of Africans from the Diaspora, Nana Dr. Kofi Amoah, in his remarks, reiterated the need for Africa to tap the resources of people from the Diaspora to help develop the continent.
Ghanaian Times - page: 3 Monday, July 27, 2009