PANAFEST goes virtual

BY: Edward Acquah
• Prof. Esi Sutherland-Addy (left), Chairperson of the International Board of Trustees for the PANAFEST Foundation, addressing the press. With her are Mr Akwasi Agyeman  (middle), Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority and Ms Tanya Sam (right), Television Personality
• Prof. Esi Sutherland-Addy (left), Chairperson of the International Board of Trustees for the PANAFEST Foundation, addressing the press. With her are Mr Akwasi Agyeman (middle), Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority and Ms Tanya Sam (right), Television Personality

Owing to the surge in COVID-19 cases, much of this year’s Pan African Historical Theatre Festival (PANAFEST) and the Emancipation Day celebrations will be held virtually to prevent the spread of the virus.

Contrary to previous celebrations, there would be no grand durbars and for activities that would require in-person participation, the intake would not exceed a third of the total capacity of the venue.

This was revealed by the organisers of the event – PANAFEST Foundation and the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) – at a news conference in Accra last Tuesday.

Activities

Under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, this year’s celebrations will start from July 26, 2021 to August 1, 2021.

Among the activities outlined for the week-long celebration are wreath-laying ceremonies in Accra to pay tribute to the ancestors, a Pan African Arts Market at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, and Creative Explosion, African World Artists at the National Theatre, which will offer Africans across the globe an opportunity to showcase their craft.

This year’s Emancipation Day celebration is on the theme: “Reclaiming Our Right to Weave Our Own Narrative”.

PANAFEST, Emancipation Day

PANAFEST is a cultural event held in Ghana every two years for Africans and people of African descent to promote and enhance unity, Pan-Africanism and the development of the African continent.

The 2021 celebration is on the theme: Securing the African Family: Our Health, Our Wealth Our Soul.

Emancipation Day, on the other hand, is an annual event to commemorate the resistance and liberation of African people in the Diaspora against enslavement and violation of their human rights. It is held on August 1, which marks the abolition of slavery in the British colonies in 1834.

Addressing the media, the Chairperson of the International Board of Trustees for the PANAFEST Foundation, Professor Esi Sutherland- Addy, said the organisers were aware of the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and thus reduced the number of activities it had initially planned.

“Because of COVID-19, we are looking at how we will set the activities.  No venue will be more than a third full. We are not going to have grand durbars like we used to do. We are doing everything we can to make sure that there is meaning, hope, and feeling that PANAFEST is contributing to this new discussion without endangering ourselves," she said.

Prof. Sunderland Addy said this year’s celebration would be used to among others highlight the contributions of Africans and Africans in the diaspora in the fight against the pandemic across the globe.

Show interest

For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the GTA, Mr Akwasi Agyeman, rallied the citizenry to show interest in the celebrations and support the various activities by participating through the online platforms.

He said the celebrations had immeasurable benefits for the country as they would help promote tourism and project the cultural identify of Ghana and Africa at large.