The 2019 celebration of the Pan-African Historical Theatre Festival (PANFEST) and Emancipation Day has officially begun with wreath-laying rituals on the graves of three forebears of the freedom struggle and Pan-Africanism.
They are William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, George Padmore and Kwame Nkrumah. The ceremonies begin a series of events earmarked for the Year of Return edition of the celebrations, which is expected to draw in more Diasporans from all over the world to Ghana which is at the forefront of Pan-Africanism and was the first African country to celebrate Emancipation Day.
The wreath-laying ceremonies begun at the Dubois Centre through to the George Padmore Library where a perpetual flame was also lit, then finally to the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park where there was a larger reception which was attended by the diaspora community in Ghana, students, traditional authorities, public officials, local and international media and the general public.
In his speech, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr. Ziblim Barri Iddi said the memories of these events are aimed at rekindling the flame of unity among people of Black origin and highlight their connection with Africa, the homeland of the Black race.
He said having experienced a dark history, it is important that the Black race came together to better their present and future.
“The last five centuries of human history has been marked by sheer brutality and criminality of conduct towards the Black man whose oppression and deprivation has been rationalized by a systemic institutionalization of the false claim that the Blackman was deficient, inferior and subservient to the White man.
“The cumulative effects of these five centuries of subjugation of the Black race are still being felt today. The sons and daughters of Africa whose struggles, marches and revolutions gained independence from colonial administrations in Africa have to confront today’s challenges with equal fortitude and determination.
“It is therefore important for the Black race all over the world to feel the weight of the responsibility to resist the persistent bias and prejudice and in a way, redouble our efforts at rebuilding peaceful and prosperous communities where all could flourish and the full spectrum of the Blackman’s talent could be nurtured to benefit all humanity,” Dr. Iddi admonished
Dr. Thomas Mensah, a world renowned Ghanaian-American inventor with seven US and worldwide patents in fiber optics who delivered the keynote address at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park introduced the flagship “Black Disney World” and a Cruise Ship movie projects to the gathering.
According to him the projects will seek to celebrate Black figures and use them to deepen the current generation’s consciousness of how important it is to take pride in the race because “Right stuff comes in Black, too” which is also the title of his yet-to-be launched book.
The theme for this year’s PANAFEST and Emancipation Day is “Beyond 400 Years: Reaching Across Continents into the Future,” and feature a host of events and activities in Accra, Elmina, Cape Coast, Assin Praso and Assin Manso.
Key highlights of the July 24 - August 3 celebrations include a grand durbar of Chiefs and Queen Mothers which will be addressed by Ghana’s President in Cape Coast on July 27.