News & Events
PANAFEST 2021 launched in Cape Coast, Ghana
Published on 2017-05-05

The 2021 Pan-African Historical Theatre Festival (PANAFEST) has been launched with a call on African people to unite.

The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Barbara Oteng-Gyasi (MP), who made the call, said "even though we are a diverse people with different languages and culture, we are one people and must as a continent take whatever we have and everything we can offer to make for a united Africa". She continued that, "In the Year of Return 2019, we celebrated the cumulative resilience of all the victims of the North-Atlantic Slave Trade. The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, together with Ghana Tourism Authority and the PANAFEST Foundation continues to be committed to creating the awareness that our homeland is still a place to return."

The Chair of the Board of PANAFEST Foundation, Prof. Esi SUtherland Addy also expressed that, "PANAFEST 2021 is designed as a stimulating, creative space for recollecting and sharing the multiple facets of the African experience of the pandemic and of the racists Western hegemony . reclaiming our right to weave our own the narrative , the festival will not stop at the profound tragedy of the experience but will also celebrate the courage, resilience and innovation demonstrated by our front liners, scientists, health workers, inventors, artist(e)s and community activists and carers. The grounds will be prepared for the crucial conversation of safegaurding our spiritual strength, health and wealth, all of which has been breached in these uncharted waters.


Next year’s PANAFEST and Emancipation Day will take place between July 23rd and August 3rd, with activities such as wreath laying, Akwaaba Ceremony welcoming of Africans in the Diaspora home, durbar of chiefs and queenmothers, an expo and interfaith dialogue to highlight the roles played by religion and Africa spirituality during the slave trade and it's resistance, as well as a Women's and Youth Days. All of this will be climaxed with a Reverential Night and Emancipation Day celebration. Every event and activity will compliment the theme of focusing on the welfare of the African family and added value to Black Lives Matter.

PANAFEST aims, among others, at establishing the truth about the history and contribution of Africa and its people through the richness of its arts and culture while developing a framework for the identification and analysis of issues and needs central to Africa’s development.

It also provides a forum to promote unity between Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora. It reaffirms the common heritage of African people over the world and their contributions to world civilisation.


The Hon. Minister, Mrs Oteng-Gyasi assured the continued collaboration with the PANAFEST Foundation and all other stakeholders involved in the celebration to make the occasion a memorable one building upon the success of the 2019 edition. 

“We are particularly developing experiences at sites throughout Ghana which were involved in the Transatlantic Slave Trade so that a fuller story would be told so that the process of awareness, reconciliation and celebration developed over the last 25 years might have a broader impact throughout the country,” she said.

The Chairperson of PANAFEST, Prof. Esi Sutherland Addy, said PANAFEST had been conceived to adopt the age-old vehicle of the arts and cultural manifestations for purging the pain of the diaspora, acknowledging the residual effects of the trade on the continent and reuniting to forge a positive future in the contemporary global environment.   

“The festival is a community event and also puts out a call to African-descended performers and thinkers to attend the festival,” she said. Prof. Addy indicated that the slave trade still exited in contemporary times in various parts of the world, an indication that Africans ought to fight to help end the practice in any form.

Rabbi Kohain Halevi, the Executive Director of PANAFEST Foundation who was the host and moderator for the virtual launch continued to stress "the importance of African people to control our own narrative and the need to exercise the power to define our own reality based upon the interpretation of our own collective experiences. In this era of the Coronavirus and the exposure of systemic White Supremacy we must siege the opportunity to correct the false information and challenge dispraging depictions of Africans as being inferior and Africa being hopeless." 


Prof. Addy indicated that, "PANAFEST is sructured around experiences and platforms which are designed to constructively raise and examine important if contentious issues, foster healing processes and also celebrate the strengths and resilience of African culture and achievements of Africans. Most importantly, PANAFEST is to be seen as a home and hub for creative Africans across the globe to both show case their work and interact with each other in a meaninful wau as this if often very difficult to achieve."