Wreath laying ceremonies to mark this year’s Emancipation Day have taken place today, July. 27 in Accra, Ghana’s capital.
The ceremonies were held at the W. E. B. Du Bois Centre, George Padmore Library, and the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park which are all monuments dedicated to the memory of the three great Pan-Africanists.
The events brought together members of the Diaspora, government officials, traditional authorities and the Media.
Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi said that Emancipation Day has not only become an institution throughout the African world but more importantly, a very useful tool for the mobilization of African people to bring finality to the African struggle.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Emancipation Day Celebration provides us the platform to reflect on the heroism and courage of our ancestors, as well as the legacy they have bequeathed us. Our ancestors refused to accept the mental chains which the slave-masters imposed on them.
They rejected the view that, they were less human beings than their masters and that they were destined to be slaves. We must draw on the rich reservoir of our history to drive our actions today," she said.
Re-echoing the Minister's remarks was CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Akwasi Agyeman who stressed the importance of this year's celebration in the midst of the global Coronavirus pandemic. He said just as the forebears of Black Emancipation did not give up on the struggle against oppressive rule and Colonialism, Emancipation had to happen regardless of how difficult it seemed.
Executive Director of the Panafest Foundation, Rabbi Halevi Kohain also added that "we should never underestimate the power of rituals because it gives strength to strength for the struggle to continue. Anytime we celebrate a piece of African history, we celebrate it for Africans all over the world. Let's continue to celebrate African resilience."
Board Chairperson of the Panafest Foundation Prof. Esi Sutherland Addy also said the struggle for absolute emancipation of Black people remains as relevant today as it was then, as Blacks abroad continue to suffer racial injustices and atrocities. For her, groups such as the Black Lives Matter movement are very important in this modern struggle.
"Can Africans anywhere be free when African everywhere are not free?" she quizzed.
Director of the Diaspora African Forum, Dr. Erieka Bennett postulated that Emancipation is an effort to secure economic, social, and political rights for Blacks all over the world and until that is achieved, the struggle must go on no matter what. She urged the gathering to be agents of change in this regard.
"Let us all walk away saying I will be the change and I am the change," she entreated.
Besides the wreath-laying, a perpetual flame was lit at the George Padmore Library to keep the spirit of Pan Africanism kindling. Barbara Oteng-Gyasi also joined the Diaspora African Forum to unveil the names of John Lewis and Elijah Cummings and other iconic freedom fighters on their Sankofa Wall.
Today's events set in motion a series of activities earmarked for this year's Emancipation Day which is under the theme, "Leveraging Our Resilience; Black Lives Matter."
A virtual panel discussion on the theme will be held tomorrow July, 28.