Three wreath-laying ceremonies have been held to commence this year’s Emancipation Day and Panafest celebration.
The wreath-laying ceremony was in honour of three illustrious sons of Pan-Africanism - W.E.B. DU Bois, George Padmore and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah - in Accra to officially begin the over a week-long celebration. The 19th Emancipation Day Celebration is being held under the theme, ‘’Emancipation, Our Heritage, Our Strength,’’ with a sub-theme ‘’the power of Pan-African Culture.’’
In her speech Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Hon. Mrs. Catherine Afeku charged Africans to go beyond the rhetoric of touting physical emancipation and fight for mental and economic emancipation which will extricate the continent from any form of slavery and neo-colonization.
‘’Let it not be just a speech, let it resonate in your heart that as we celebrate Panafest, we build the bonds of our families and honour our heroes like Osaagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, whose grave site we all stand today. Let us stand on the shoulders of the ancestors both sung and unsung, who have built on the Pan-African ideas. Ghana, looking back to Gold Coast we always had our ancestors who resisted. So we emancipate our minds, our bodies, and our spirit. But let us take it a step further to economic emancipation: Ghana beyond aid,’’ she stated.
She reminded all that the commemoration which starts from the 25th July to 2nd August should help us reflect on the significance of the struggle our forefathers had to go through for our freedom. She said: What we just witnessed is a testimony of our strength, the resilience of the African. Let us take this occasion solemnly to remember the people who shed their blood, who sacrificed for you and I today to build upon the legacies.’’
Mrs. Afeku called on the diaspora to rally behind their African brothers and sisters to continue the quest for absolute emancipation as the continent seeks to build bright a future for its young generation. ‘’Let the sisters and brothers from the diaspora see this as a call to action, let us build the continent, let us build our economies so that children after us, represented here by the youth who laid the wreath on behalf of the young generation, will look up to the successes of our past. Again I welcome each and every one of you to take the baton from our ancestors to leave the shame and build our fame,’’ she charged.
The wreath laying ceremonies were attended by Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Zimbabwean High Commissioner to Ghana, H.E. Pavelyn Tendai Musaka, Ambassadors from Colombia, Brazil, South Sudan, Nii Tettey Kpobi Tsuru III La Mantse, Professor Esi Sena Addy, Representatives from the African-American Association of Ghana and many more others. Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Government and People of Ghana, African Diplomatic Corps, Traditional Rulers, Diaspora African Forum, African-American Association of Ghana, Ghana-Caribbean Association and Youth of Africa.
At the Dubois Centre, an Afro-Colombian Dr. Sergio Antonio Mosquera Mosquera, who has successfully traced his ancestral root to Ghana, was named ‘’Kofi Sankofa’’ by the La Mantse. Apart from the wreath-laying ceremony at the George Padmore Library, there was also the lighting of a perpetual fame which represents the continuous pursuit of emancipation.
Emancipation Day is celebrated in many former British colonies in the Caribbean and some areas of the United States to commemorate the emancipation of slaves of African descent. It is also observed in other areas in remembrance of the abolition of serfdom or other forms of servitude. Ghana joined in the celebration of Emancipation Day in 1998.
Emancipation Day/Panafest 2017 celebrations continue at various locations of the Central Region, including Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, UCC, Assin Manso and Assin Praso.