News & Events
Published on 2018-04-10




25th July -2nd August 2019



While the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade had been in operation since the early 1500s, the first documented arrival of enslaved Africans to the fledgling English colonial America was in 1619. 

2019, therefore, marks 400 years since this documented and symbolic moment in the long history of African enslavement and subjugation for the building of what is now known as the United States of America.

With Ghana as the host country PANAFEST 2019 is being organized as a platform:

To commemorate the tremendous contributions of Africans to the prosperity of England and other Colonizers of the period and

To examine the impact of this lengthy period of servitude on Africa and its people throughout the world.

However, of what worth is the toil and endurance of Africans over the centuries unless to reach out to each other across the continents and beyond 400 years into a self-directed future?

Through a rich array of artistic and cultural expression as well as searching dialogue, the unspoken and unspeakable can be expressed, insights gained, essential awareness raised and pathways conceived. The festival is expected to bring communities of Africans together in the spirit of reuniting the African Family beyond the distance and time.


Given the significance of the year, PANAFEST 2019 will be designed to meet the heartfelt needs of Africans in the Diaspora to reestablish a link with the continent and people of Africa in a meaningful way. It will also be designed to heighten awareness among Ghanaians about the massive, tidal wave of history in which we have been involved and its eventual impact on our present and future condition. Under the circumstances, it is envisaged that the programme will be staged with a wider footprint with events taking place in several regions, particularly the Greater Accra, Northe, Ashanti and Central Regions.



Leading up to the festival a 3-4day pilgrimage along the slave route mapped under the UNESCO slave route project will be offered as an option. Atonement ceremonies developed over the last few years will be held. Currently, there is one in Salaga.

It is proposed that similar ceremonies are developed at other significant sites.


A major event for PANAFEST and Emancipation Day will consist of a Wreath laying programme and Tribute to the Pan African Pioneers in Accra beginning at the W.E.B. DuBois Centre for Pan African Culture and continuing to the George Padmore Library and ending up at the Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum. It is suggested that wreaths are laid on behalf of Africans across the continents to match the theme.


The Programme will begin in the early moing with a gathering at the entrance of the Cape Coast Fort/Dungeon. 25 pre-selected Retuees will form a circle to invoke the spirit of the ancestors before proceeding to and through the “Door of No Retu” to board canoes to begin the jouey to Elmina “Castle” Fort, where “it all began”

 Upon arrival, the Chiefs and Elders of Edina will meet the “Retuees” at the shore and pour libations to thank the ancestors for a safe jouey and for the “Retu”. The retuees will be led to the forecourt of the Fort for the Akwaaba durbar with the Chiefs, Queen Mothers and people of Edina. A ram will be slaughtered as an atonement exercise and a traditional meal sharing of “Oto” between Diaspora retuees and Chiefs and Edinaman community members. After the ceremony, the Chiefs, Elders and Diaspora family will process down the main street of Elmina Township to the Omanhen Palace to bring the commencement of PANAFEST to the attention of the public.


The PANAFEST Village /Bazaar and Expo will be a permanent site for exhibition and sale of goods, refreshment services and performances. It will also have the official PANAFEST information office to keep festival participants comprehensively informed on a day to day basis and serve as a meeting and networking venue. It is proposed that this year’s Bazaar/Expo features a business forum to bring entrepreneurs together with financiers and other business service providers to promote greater inter-business links among Africans. The Business Forum should be repeated in Accra. We are also proposing a Street Art in Cape Coast/Elmina and an African visual art exhibition featuring artist from Ghana and other African countries. In addition, there will a Food Court specializing in various inteational African cuisine, as well as encouraging local restaurants and or hotels to feature specialized menu’s of “Soul Food” lunch or dinner buffets. African Fabrics & Clothing including a fashion show by top rate designers will be part of the Expo/Bazaar.   

5) The World of the African Child

This is conceived as a day camp for children attending the festival. It will be subject to a procurement process to select a partner who will offer children a fascinating experience throughout the festival. It is expected that children will enter into their own world where they will have the opportunity to lea arts, skills and information grounded in the

African experience and the joy of playing.


Colloquium: Theme: Beyond 400 Years: Reaching Across Continents into the Future

Working with the University of Cape Coast, it is proposed that a 4-day colloquium is held to allow enough time for a debate on the theme.  Publication of selected papers of this and earlier should be hardwired into the planning of the colloquium. At least two inteationally renowned speakers should be invited to the colloquium.

Sub themes can include:

  • Placing 1619 in Perspective of the wider Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
  • Confronting the taboo of  discussing enslavement in continental African Communities
  • Pan Africanism and the Future of Africa
  • Beyond 400 Years: The Feminine Perspective
  • African Manhood: Enslavement and Beyond
  • African Spirituality & Religion in the context of slavery
  • Educating the generations for the future


Keynote Speakers and Selected Panelists will be requested to give lectures at other sites in Ghana such as Accra and Kumasi


Proposed Theme: Leading the African Faithful and the Shaping of an African Future

The majority of Africans are a spiritual people of faith, many of whom have not engaged with the question of religion and enslavement nor looked at the issue of an African future in a Global World. The dialogue will be designed as a platform for leaders of different faiths to hear each other out. This dialogue should be held at more than one site e.g. Cape Coast, Accra, and Tamale.

8) Youth Assembly

A one- day youth assembly is proposed to bring young persons together to discuss the theme from their perspectives. This event should include an exhibition of achievements of Africans over the ages as well as an IT tent should be established.  Successful young achievers on a global scale should be invited.

The Inteational Hip Hop Pan African Diaspora Family Reunion a Pro Pan African development initiative convening an Inteational Hip Hop/Rap Summit in collaboration with PANAFEST & MUSIGA.


With the Amanhen of Oguaa and Edina as hosts and the Central Region House of Chiefs as Co-hosts,   the proposed Grand Durbar should involve representatives of the various Regional Houses of Chiefs and also take on an inteational dimension. Traditional leaders of Maroon Communities e.g. Surinam, Jamaica and Brazil as well as selected African countries with e.g. Benin, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Angola and the South Pacific could be invited. The leaders would process through selected streets of Cape Coast and display the classical forms of music, dance and other art forms associated with the court cultures. This durbar would showcase participating performance groups. Highlights of the Durbar will include a speech by the President of the Republic, remarks by the Regional Minister and Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, atonement rites, solidarity messages and brief teasers by inteational groups,


Performances are core to PANAFEST which is primarily an Arts Festival. The festival should make a special effort to attract a number of headline acts to attract greater participation. It is expected that there will be more than one performance per day in Cape Coast. This will include arrangements with hotels and eateries to host small scale performances. The evenings will feature special concerts, and variety shows at the Festival Village. “Special Tributes to African Music Legends” should be organized with MUSIGA. A major Gospel Evening should be held. In addition, arrangements will be made to tour a number of acts in other venues in Ghana.

Film Shows

Films will be showed at several venues throughout the festival. However a block buster African –made film should be invited to the festival and premiered.

Artists Workshops

Artists Workshops, Jam Sessions and Community Workshops will be organized throughout the festival to ensure sharing among participating artists. Also to integrate the local community, artist’s workshops will be organized.


Reverential Night is the most sacred programme on the PANAFEST schedule. It normally begins with a “gathering” at the Mfantsipim School Junction with a bonfire from which candles will be lit and the procession formed of Asafo Companies, choirs (both local and international), festival participants,  public officials and police escort led by the Information Service Van.

For the 2019 edition, it is proposed that a convoy properly branded and escorted leaves Accra at about on a return trip to Cape Coast leaving at 4 pm on the 31st of July with an option to return at 1:00 am the following morning or staying on for Emancipation Day. The convoy would be scheduled to arrive in Cape Coast in time to join the procession.

 The candlelight procession will move down Commercial Street in Cape Coast to the Castle/Dungeon entrance to be met by the Omanhen and Elders of Oguaa. Wreath laying at the shrine of Nana Tabir will be done accompanied by spiritual soloists.  After the wreath laying, a full-scale tribute to the ancestors will be rendered by carefully selected speakers and performing groups.   The Declaration of Emancipation will be read at midnight.


A Solemn Durbar of the Chiefs and People of Assin Manso will be held to give reverence to those ancestors who suffered the horrifying journey of the slave route and gave up their lives far away from their homeland. It is proposed that solemn forms of music and dance are performed both by local and Diasporan performers. E.g. The Akan Atopre and Asafo, the Jamaican Aben .etc. The walk to the Donkonsuo and the rites at the river will be undertaken by participants and traditional officiants. It is proposed that participants are taught to join in simple Asafo songs on the way to the river which will make it participatory and highly meaningful. It is further proposed that a stone wall sepulcher for the entombing of the ashes of Diasporans wishing for their remains to rest in the special graveyard at Assin Manso be built and announced so that burial rites involving both some Diasporan and Ghanaian rites can be conducted on the way to the ‘Donkonsuo.’    


There will be a schedule of Post Concerts after the 2nd August in Accra, Cape Coast and Kumasi.