Mark Okraku Mantey (left), Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Mr Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of GTA having a chat during the event
Mark Okraku Mantey (left), Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Mr Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of GTA having a chat during the event
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2024 Emancipation celebration slated for July

This year’s Emancipation Celebration has been launched in Accra with a series of impactful activities lined up to take participants on a journey of reflection, celebration and unity while projecting into the future.

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The week-long celebration will begin with the commemoration of the history of the ancestors by commissioning the Salaga Slave Market in the Savannah Region – a sacred site, which serves as a reminder of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, will also pay tribute to the ancestors with wreath-laying ceremonies at the W.E.B Dubois Centre, George Padmore Library and the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park in Accra on Sunday, July 25.

There will also be a photo exhibition of the legacy of Professor Efua Sutherland at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park on the same day.

Other activities

A reverential night at the historic Cape Coast Castle has been scheduled to reflect on the past and honour the memories of those who were impacted by the Transatlantic Slave Trade, featuring a candlelight procession, wreath laying, roll call of ancestors and the reading of proclamation on Saturday, July 31.

Finally, on August 1, the GTA will climax the ceremony with a grand durbar at the Assin Manso School Park in the Central Region and wreath laying on the graves of former enslaved Africans.

The Emancipation Day, which is in its 174th milestone (August 1, 1834), marked the final abolition of chattel slavery in the British colonies with the coming into full effect of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 across the British Empire. 

Significance

Addressing the launch yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mark Okraku Mantey, said the celebration held immense significance for the nation, as well as the people of African descent.

He said it was worth it to honour the memories of those who suffered, celebrate progress and reaffirm commitment to preserving the rich African culture. “Emancipation Day is not just a historic event, it is a call to action and a reminder that our journey towards freedom continues.

It is not over until it is over. Together we will reclaim our identity, confront our past and shape a brighter future for generations to come,” he said. Mr Okraku further revealed that his outfit decided to begin the celebration from the northern part of the country instead of Accra to highlight the significance of several slavery stories across the country.

“Building on the agenda that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s government is engaging in development, we are extending the celebration of emancipation to touch all slave roots and construction works are ongoing in Salaga Slave Market and Pikworo Salve Camp in the Savannah and Upper East regions.

“This strategic initiative is to ensure that we honour the memories of our ancestors and educate future generations about their sacrifices throughout the country. This is in addition to several other works in other regions to uplift its tourism potentials,” he said. 

Building communities

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GTA, Mr Akwasi Agyeman, said the theme for this year’s celebration – “Unity and Resilience Building Stronger Communities for a Brighter Future” was appropriate as it sought to unite and develop communities, especially those communities where the slavery took place.

“Stronger communities means uniting around our communities – all the communities which have become in some cases a scar on the memory of humanity are the communities that need to be developed so we at the Tourism Authority, working with other agencies under the ministry, have been working on the programmes to make sure that the various forts and castles are developed and preserved so that this story will continue to be told again and again not just to give us pain but also to remind us that never again should we allow this to happen,” he said.

“Emancipation Day is also about continuity. Even in this day, we have not freed ourselves from our mental slavery, so we need to reconnect with ourselves and find ways that we can continue the struggle that our forebears started and a commitment to fight for justice to eradicate poverty that no child should go to bed on an empty stomach,” he added.

Reparations

The Chairperson of the PANAFEST Foundation, Professor Esi Sutherland Addy, said she was in support of the Caricom Reparation Commission for their effort to get reparations by governments of all the former colonial powers and relevant institutions of those countries to the nations and people who suffered the consequences of a racialised system of chattel slavery.

She added that emancipation was not handed to the people on a silver platter but it took the resilience and bravery of people who resisted and fought oppression to gain it hence the need to remember and honour them.

“The recognition of Caricom which is trying to get reparations and trying to get us all to understand that the people who oppressed us owe us something is good.  I think the idea that we contributed and it’s long past so we can’t ask for anything is wrong.” 

I think we can and we must and on this occasion I must ask us to support the reparations movement to try and make sure that our health, education, economies are taken care of and that most of the things that are wrong with us are partly or mostly due to the 500 hundred years of inhumanity of enslavement and colonialism,” she said. 

The launch brought together several dignitaries including the Chairperson of Diaspora African Forum, Ambassador Erieka Bennet, Rabbi Kohain of the PANAFEST Foundation, Executive  Director, National Commission on Culture, Nana Otuo Owoahene, Teshie Akwashongtse, Nii Quaye Armah II and Executive Director, National Theatre of Ghana, Mrs Amy Appiah Frimpong.

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