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The Impetus and Objectives of PANAFEST

The Pan African Historical Theatre Festval
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 coast line 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 an 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.
Along side 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, add value to community initiatives, take advantage of technologies and mobilize the strength of Africans around the globe.

PANAFEST and the Ghanaian State

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 1994, 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. The Government of Ghana considers this a major national initiative and appreciates the agencies, communities, civil society organizations and corporate bodies which have mobilized resources to complement government efforts over the years. The Government of Ghana is also deeply appreciative of all sister governments for their participation and the African Union for lending its auspices to this unique cultural manifestation.

Concept for High Level Dialogue on Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance
On the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity/African Union
Dates: 2nd and 3rd August 2013

Theme: Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance

The 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity coincides with the 50th anniversary of the demise in Accra of Dr. W.E.B Dubois, the towering leader of Pan-Africanist thought. Pan-Africanism was the bedrock of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s burning passion for a unified African Continent most certainly fueled by the anti-colonial movement symbolized by the seminal Fifth Pan Africanist Congress held in Manchester, England in 1945. Ghana certainly blazed a trail on the 5th March maxim : “The Independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African Continent. The agenda for the continent appeared to have been set at that vibrant historical moment even if there was disagreement over the pace and approach. The transition of the continent through its regional economic communities to the African Union has been complex and fraught. 50years on, it is most appropriate to pause for a frank assessment of the current configuration of aligned African States and peoples inclusive of the African Diaspora worldwide. Is the continent still divided into the Casablanca and Monrovia Blocs? Has this configuration been guided by the vision of continental unity, or is this merely a soul satisfying dream which cannot be operationalised by a rational operational strategy?
The leaders of Africa and their people have come to a moment of accounting for the stewardship of the Pan Africanist vision.
The High Level Dialogue has been planned to dove-tail into the special 10th edition of PANAFEST – The Pan-African Historical Theater Festival dedicated to laying to rest the trauma of enslavement, re-uniting the African Family, celebrating the resilience of the African Spirit and setting an agenda for the future. Set against the backdrop of the Cape Coast and Elmina Castles and Slave Dungeons and at the same time immersed in the heritage of the local communities it has been for 21years a deeply fulfilling experience for people of African descent from all over the world.
The African Union (AU) has endorsed PANAFEST as an important festival programme on the cultural calendar of the continent and resolved in 1994 that the biennial event be held under its auspices. This and the other support and goodwill the festival enjoys from several international organizations and African states attests to its stature and relevance as a Pan African Cultural event. PANAFEST runs from 26th July to 3rd August 2013 . Participants in the High Level Dialogue are encouraged to arrive a few days earlier to enable them to experience the festival.

The Platforms of the Dialogue will include the following
Keynote Addresses
Open forum with High Level Panel of African Leaders
Panel Discussions
Creative Manifestations

The Build up to PANAFEST / Emancipation 2013

From one edition to the other, it is necessary to re-iterate the main message of the festival and deepen the recognition by the Ghanaian public of its relevance to their lives. Those artistes and cultural organizations, educational institutions and the media which have made efforts to highlight the message for and enhance the participation of the people of Ghana in the festival over time are very much appreciated. There is however a lot more to be done in this respect.
Artist(es) invited to participate in the festival , entertainment event managers as well as leaders of educational institutions and media houses are urged to incorporate the themes listed below in all their programmes (including artistic ones such as music selections /event for broadcast) in the run up to the festival :

•Highlight important moments in the history of African peoples including our own societies.
•Explore the issue of slavery and its consequences.
•Celebrate and, where necessary, interrogate the knowledge systems and culture of African people.
•Raise the contemporary manifestations of exploitation of African People.
•Shed light on innovative and creative Africans.
•Review Ghana’s perceived leadership role among African Peoples around the world.


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