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General News of Monday, 24 June 2019

Source: ghananewsagency.org

Let's leverage on PANAFEST to spur national development

Mr. Kwamena Duncan, the Central Regional Minister has rallied the collective support of all stakeholders towards leveraging on a successful celebration of this year’s ‘Pan-African Historical Theatre Festival' (PANAFEST) to spur national development.

He indicated that the event dedicated to African music, dance, arts and culture seeks to enhance the ideals of Pan-Africanism as key to attracting and retaining investments from the Diaspora to accelerate rapid socio-economic development.

This year has been earmarked as the “Year of Return”, signifying 400 years of chattel slavery which saw the brutal treatment of Africans who were captured as slaves from their homeland and transported through the ‘door of no return’ in the various Castles to the Americas and the Caribbean.

Ghana was one of the main departure point of Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the Year of Return will give Africans in Diaspora the opportunity to return and bond with their brothers and sisters back home and also bring their expertise on board to develop the Continent.

The Festival will be observed under the theme, "reuniting the African family beyond 400 years; reaching across continents into the future ”. Mr. Duncan indicated that sustaining the rich Ghanaian cultural heritage from adulteration and extinction while promoting the ideals of Pan-Africanism was essential to promote national integration and cohesion to create employment opportunities for the people.

This year's PANAFEST/Emancipation Day celebration starts from Wednesday, July 24 to Friday, August 2, 2019, to immortalise people of African descent as well as all persons committed to the well being of Africans on the Continent and in the global arena who were sold during the Trans-Atlantic chattel trade over five centuries.

During a stakeholder’s engagement on this year’s PANAFEST/Emancipation day celebrations in Cape Coast to dialogue and deliberate on how to strengthen the partnership between the two bodies to promote the Year of Return, Mr. Duncan sensitised Ghanaians to own the festival to make it a memorable one.

President Nana Akufo-Addo had declared this year as the “Year of Return” for Africans in the Diaspora, giving fresh impetus to the quest to unite Africans on the continent with their brothers and sisters in the diaspora.

This is a major landmark marketing campaign targeting the African – American and Diaspora to mark 400 years of the first enslaved African arriving in Jamestown Virginia to return home and support national development.

Mr. Duncan indicated that the celebration had been well publicised on the international front, attracting a number of Diasporans but same could not be said in the Country and asked for more publicity for the local populace to be abreast of the celebration.

He, therefore, called on all media practitioners to take advantage of the occasion and properly showcase the good things on the continent.

"Use your platforms, stages, airwaves and artistic works to properly sell Africa and Ghana to the rest of the world during this year’s PANAFEST/Emancipation Day and Year of Return,” he said.

He also charged the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) to hasten advertisement initiatives to ginger the much needed local support, and noted that "tourism was very critical to the economic development of the country, considering the revenue it would generate when given the needed attention."

Professor Esi Southerland Addy, Chairperson of the PANAFEST Foundation, reignited the essence of PANAFEST saying it was mooted by the late Efua Sutherland in the mid-1980s as a cultural vehicle to bring Africans on the Continent and in the Diaspora together around the issues raised by slavery which remain suppressed.

She emphasised that the celebration is a continuous call to all Africans and people of African descent to become more committed to the emancipation of the entire African continent from slavery, especially, in areas where it exists and to engage ourselves more meaningfully in the development of the African continent.

Prof. Addy indicated that the slave trade still existed in contemporary times in various parts of the world, an indication that Africans ought to fight to help end the practice in any form.

Mr. Akwasi Agyeman, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GTA, outlined plans to intensify publicity and activities earmarked for this year's three main programmes of PANAFEST, Emancipation and the "Year of Return".

Starting from Wednesday, July 24 to Friday, August 2, 2019, events include Pre-PANAFEST slave route pilgrimage and atonement at sites on slave route at Salaga, Wreath laying and Tributes to the Ancestors, in Accra and Free Travel Day-to Cape Coast on African Children’s World (Children’s day camp).

Others are Return Journey/Akwaaba and opening of Bazaar/ Expo at Elmina and Cape Coast, Grand Durbar/ Opening Ceremony, Official Opening of Trade Expo, Interfaith Dialogue, Colloquium, Keynotes/panels/Youth session/women’s session, Reverential Night all in Cape Coast and Emancipation Day at Assin Manso.

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