The 2023 edition of the Pan African Historical Theater Festival (PANAFEST)/Emancipation Day has been launched in Accra with a renewed commitment to reclaim the African family, while confronting the challenges of the past to make way for transformational opportunities.
The day slated for July 19 – August 1, 2023 would be on the theme; “Re-Claiming the African Family: Confronting the Past to face the Challenges of the 21st century.”
It is celebrated annually to mark the abolition of slavery in the British Colonies in 1862 and its annual observance introduced in Ghana in 1992.
Speaking at the launch on Friday, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, in a speech read on his behalf, said PANAFEST which was conceived and developed in Ghana was the longest consistently celebrated Pan African Festival in the world.
He said it had been in existence since 1992 and its forte was to use the powerful medium of the arts and intellectual interaction to speak the unspeakable, raise awareness, build bridges and generate healing.
“PANAFEST originated as a state-led festival in 1992 and has become a powerful Ghanaian initiative of which our nation can be justifiably proud,” he added.
DrAwal expressed the ministry’s commitment to continue to collaborate with the Foundation and other actors involved in the initiative.
“Additionally, I expect that building up participation by different communities and that of Ghanaian creative and by the Ghanaian public in general will be take up seriously. I also expect that participants will be able to have the experience of both those iconic features as well as additional innovations to keep them coming back to the festival and to Ghana,” he said.
The Chairperson of PANAFEST Foundation, Professor Esi Sutherland-Addy, said PANAFEST 2023 rode on the many insights gained from 2021, however, over the last two years, a number of important trends appeared to mark the existence of African people across the world.
She stated that the challenges of the 21st century must be confronted to make way for transformational opportunities, adding “And so we must as the world be buffeted by tornadoes of change should we sit like victims or are we going to carve out our place.”
Prof Sutherland-Addy called on the African family to take its fate into its own hands and point out the challenges to re-unite and illuminate new paths towards transformational unity.
The Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), MrAkwasiAgyeman, said the 2023 edition of the PANAFEST would be exciting and different from the previous ones which would showed hope and unity among the African descent.
He promised his outfit’s commitment to keep the relationship between the global African family and Ghana’s role as the beacon of Pan-Africanism.
The event would be marked by wreath laying, Return Journey, Traditional Akwaaba ceremonies, grand durbar with chiefs and queen mothers, Bazaar/Expo, colloquium, reverential night/emancipation vigil, exhibitions, performances, tours to significant sites, among others, and would be finally climaxed at AssinManso in the Central Region.
BY VIVIAN ARTHUR