The government sees PANAFEST as a major national event, which must be sustained, Ms Akua Sena Dansua, Minister of Tourism, declared on Monday.
She said the festival was premised on the fact that the arts, particularly theatre, were powerful tools of communication and healing that people needed to express themselves, dialogue and mobilize their energies to move to greater heights.
Ms Dansua was speaking at the official launch of the 2011 PANAFEST/Emancipation Day Celebration in Accra.
The two-week event starting from July 23, 2011 is under the theme: “Re-Uniting the African Family: Challenges and Prospects.”
This year’s event would 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.
There will be 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.
RLG Communications, Agricultural Development Bank, and Voltic Mineral Water are sponsoring the event.
Ms Dansua said since 1994, the festival had attracted the participation of people from across the globe and had been recognised as an international event, which made Ghana a motivational attraction for African people.
The Pan African Historical Theatre Project (PANAFEST) was mooted by the late Mrs Efua Sutherland in the mid 1980s as a cultural vehicle for bringing together Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora around issues of slavery, which remained suppressed.
Slavery caused the most traumatic interruption that ever occurred in the natural evolution of African societies, which among other things profoundly eroded the self-confidence and self-determination of a whole people.
The Minister said Ghana’s coastline was dotted with many, now silent memorials of over 500 years of that most turbulent era in Africa’s history.
“PANAFEST consciously allows for these sites to be used to confront the effects of enslavement, purging the pain of the Diaspora, acknowledging the residual effects of the trade on the continent and re-uniting all affected people so as to forge a positive future in the contemporary global environment,” Ms Dansua added.
She said alongside the healing processes, PANAFEST celebrated the strengths and resilience of African culture and achievements of Africans in spite of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and its aftermath.
Ms Dansua said the joint celebration of PANAFEST and Emancipation Day was a powerful reawakening event aimed especially at Africans in the Diaspora to retrace their steps to the Motherland, Africa, and also afforded the people of Ghana the opportunity to renew their bonds with their brothers and sisters in the Diaspora.
She was grateful to agencies, communities, civil society organizations and corporate bodies, which had supported the celebration over the years and called on other corporate organisations to support and make the entire programme eventful.
Activities planned for the event include wreath laying ceremonies, international concert, grand durbar of chiefs and people of Cape Coast, visits to historical sites in Cape Coast and Elmina, the symbolic crossing of the River Pra, a Redemption March, and a Reverential Night.
The celebrations would climax with Emancipation Day Celebration at Assin Manso on August 1.