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The Celebration

The Pan African Historical Theatre Festival, commonly known as PANAFEST was mooted by the Late Efua Sutherland in the mid-1980s as a cultural vehicle for bringing Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora together around the issues raised by slavery which remain suppressed. PANAFEST addresses the most traumatic interruption that ever occurred in the natural evolution of African societies which among other traumas, profoundly eroded the self- confidence and freedom for self-determination of a whole people. These constitute an impediment to the progress of Africans and must be laid to rest. Ghana’s coastline is dotted with large, now silent memorials to over 500 years of this most turbulent era in Africa’s history The festival consciously makes them a site for confronting the effects of enslavement, purging the pain of Diaspora, acknowledging the residual effects of the trade on the Continent and re-uniting to forge a positive future in the contemporary global environment. 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. It is designed to help Africans to reconnect with their strengths and thus inspired to eternal vigilance, rededicate themselves to fully assuming the reigns of their own destiny in recognition of the lessons of history. There are today, urgent developments making this proudly Ghanaian initiative a vital and relevant platform which provides members of the African Family with the opportunity to engage with each other in forthright communication. Among these are negatives such as human trafficking from the continent, the brain drain, marginalization of Africans in a global knowledge economy, the renewed surge of external pursuit of African natural resources and the slowness of African Unification. There are also positive factors including enabling global conventions and coalitions and African initiatives to establish transnational businesses. The value to community initiatives, take advantage of technologies and mobilize the strength of Africans around the globe. PANAFEST is an international event which, as has happened since the middle of the 20th Century, makes Ghana a motivational force for African People. Since 1992, the festival has attracted participation by official delegations, individuals and groups from African, Caribbean and South American countries as well as groups and individuals from Europe and the United States. In 2019, the PANAFEST celebration would also mark the 200th year since slavery. It would be celebrated from 25th July - 2nd August, 2019 at Cape Coast and Elmina. The theme for the celebration is “Beyond 400 Years: Reaching Across Continents into the Future”.
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