PANAFEST launched but diasporians unhappy
Posted on: 2011-Jun-28        Joy fm
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A member of the diasporian community in Ghana, KOFI EL SHABAZZ, has accused successive governments of systematically undermining the objectives of the Pan-African Festival (PANAFEST), and Emancipation Day.

She said while PANAFEST and Emancipation Day were established with the noble objective of reuniting Africans in the diaspora with their kindred on the African continent, the actions and inactions of governments over the years have tendered to contradict this objective.

Speaking at the launch of this year’s joint PANAFEST/Emancipation day celebrations at the Accra International Conference Centre, an emotional EL SHABAZZ, told the Tourism Minister Akua Sena Dansua, that the government and her ministry had failed to make the necessary investments to make the celebration the global event that it is supposed to be.

She protested the launching of the celebrations in Accra, arguing that Cape Coast, which is the centre of the celebrations ought to be where the launching should have been done.

EL SHABAZZ, who manages the One Africa Guest House, a health resort, located at the Iture village near Elmina, said PANAFEST risks becoming a total failure if government doesn’t attach seriousness to the celebrations.

She said even though she had lived in Ghana for 21 years, she had no citizenship and wondered how government intended and hoped to encourage Africans in the Diaspora to return to the continent and invest and help propel the continent’s growth if the people will not be granted dual citizenship.

Other Diasporians who were present at the event shared similar sentiments.

Responding to the concerns, the Tourism Minister explained that the government was fully committed to achieving the objectives of reuniting the African people and their Diasporian brothers and sisters.

As a demonstration of that commitment, she said the government, in spite of the budgetary constraints, had made some funding available for the celebrations.

On the question of why the events were being launched in Accra and not Cape Coast, Mrs Sena Dansua explained that majority of the stakeholders including the media were in Accra. That she said was the reason why the media launch was done in Accra, assuring that the programme launch will be done in Cape Coast.

She admonished EL SHABAZZ and the others to help the government make the programme a success by inviting as many Diasporians as possible.

Touching on the celebrations, Mrs Dansua, said “alongside the healing processes, PANAFEST celebrates the strengths and resilience of African culture and achievements of Africans in spite of the transatlantic slave trade and its aftermath.”

According to the minister, this year's event which will be under the theme: “Re-Uniting the African Family: Challenges and Prospects". It will re-examine the role of the Great African ancestors, their pioneering spirit of promoting Pan African liberation and unity as well as valiant contemporary efforts to innovate individuals, communities and countries to bring into being an alternative world.”

She said the celebrations will involve a colloquium to renew the role PANAFEST has played and can continue to play in sustaining the magnificent legacy of the African and leveraging it for growth as well as provide stakeholders the opportunity to contribute to the grand official celebration of the 10th Edition of the festival in 2012.

“The joint celebration of PANAFEST and Emancipation Day are a powerful reawakening event aimed especially at Africans in the Diaspora to retrace their steps to the Motherland, Africa, a phenomenon welcome and accepted by Ghanaians and also affords us the opportunity to renew our bonds with our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora,” she stated.

The events marking the celebrations will kick off on Saturday, 23 July, 2011 with wreath laying ceremonies at the Du Bois Centre, George Padmore Library and the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. An international concert will be held later that evening featuring great musicians.

These events would be followed by a grand durbar of Chiefs and People of Cape Coast, on Monday, July 25, 2011, and will be witnessed by Chiefs and Queen mothers from other parts of the country and from all walks of life.

Other events lined-up include visits to historical sites in Cape Coast and Elmina, the symbolic crossing of the River Pra, a Redemption March, and a Reverential Night which includes a candle light procession through the Cape Coast Castle. The celebrations will climax with Emancipation Day Celebration at Assin Manso on August 1.

The Minister commended rlg Communications, the Agricultural Development Bank, airtel, and Voltic Natural Mineral Water for supporting the celebrations and appealed to other corporate organizations to follow suit.