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. Sites of Memory  which hold the untold stories of  excruciating burden and tremendous resilience of the peoples of Northern Ghana will be the focus of this pilgrimage.



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.


The Programme will begin in the early morning with a gathering at the entrance of the Cape Coast Castle/Dungeon. A limited number of pre-selected Returnees will form a circle to invoke the spirit of the ancestors before proceeding to and through the “Door of No Return” to board canoes to begin the journey to Elmina “Castle” Fort, where “it all began”

Upon arrival, the Chiefs and Elders of Edina will meet the “Returnees” at the shore and pour libations to thank the ancestors for a safe journey and for the “Return”. The returnees will be led to the forecourt of the Fort for the Akwaaba durbar with the Chiefs, Queen Mothers and people of Edina. An atonement act and a traditional meal sharing of “Oto” (sacred mashed yam and eggs) between Diaspora returnees and Chiefs and Edinaman community members will be held. 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 serves as a meeting and net-working venue.. A Street Art display in Cape Coast/Elmina and an African visual art exhibition featuring artists from Ghana and other Global Africans will be held. A business forum will bring entrepreneurs together with financiers and other business service providers to promote greater inter business links among Africans. This year’s Expo will be feature a virtual mall to ensure wider choice of goods and exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs across the Global African World.



This is conceived as a day camp for children attending the festival. Organizers 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 learn arts, skills and information grounded in the African experience and the joy of playing. Guardians will be assured of a safe and culturally enriching experience for their wards. A virtual World of the African Child is also envisioned. Proposals are welcome for both the face to face and virtual versions of this event.



With the Omanhen (Traditional Rulers) of Oguaa and Edina as hosts and the Central Region House of Chiefs as Co-hosts, the Durbar will involve representatives of the various Regional Houses of Chiefs and also take on an international dimension with Traditional Leaders from around Global Africa. 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 showcases participating performance groups. Highlights of the Durbar include a speech by the President of the Republic or his representative and solidarity messages by Guests of Honour, the Regional Minister and Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, atonement rites, and brief teasers by local and international groups. This royal pageant event will pay special tribute to the 700th year anniversary of the great west African King Mansa Musa and his 60,000 man entourage and their pilgrimage across the African continent in 1324 and will be streamed live and accessible by event tickets.



The majority of Africans are people of faith, many of whom have not engaged with the many- sided question of religion and spirituality in the oppression and liberation of Africans over the past five centuries. While the dialogue is designed as a platform for leaders of different faiths to hear each other out it also provides the opportunity for the people of faith to express their views on the theme as well as the role of African based liberation theology in the 21st century. This dialogue brings in participants from around the world via virtual platforms and live attendance.



Working with the University of Cape Coast and other partners such as the HBCU’s and African Heritage Studies Association (AHSA), a colloquium is held based on the festival theme . A selection of papers presented and proceedings will be published. Internationally renowned speakers will be invited to address at the colloquium. The colloquium will feature major virtual sessions and will be streamed live, accessible by event tickets. See the call for papers for details. Keynote Speakers and Selected Panelists may be requested to give lectures at other sites in Ghana such as Accra and Kumasi.



Women’s day at PANAFEST recognizes the fact that women are makers of history whose specific struggles, resistances and achievements have been muted in the narrative about the African experience. The day provides a dedicated space in which the, stories and reflections of women of Africa can be shared. Women’s day is also designed to ensure that participants are informed, inspired and networked to prepare them to advocate to be at the table when the future of African people is being shaped. Women’s day includes dialogue, performances, sharing of skills , wellness and networking sessions and seeks to be inclusive by providing translation into a limited number of languages. Women’s Day will be set up as a hybrid experience to be accessed by event tickets.



While everything will be done to include youthful participants in all the events of the festival, PANAFEST provides opportunities for inter-generational dialogue and sharing of the continuities and discontinuities of the African story. The Youth Day also provides a space for young persons to gather and deconstruct the theme to build their vision of the future .

Activities will include both live and virtual dialogues, performances, communal art, networking and exhibitions.


PERFORMANCES (Scheduled throughout the festival)

Performances are core to PANAFEST which is primarily an Arts Festival. A number of headline acts will be invited. Daily performances will be scheduled at various venues in Cape Coast. This will include arrangements with hotels and eateries to host small scale acts. Short pieces will be programmed as part of key events (Opening Ceremony, Colloquium, Reverential Night, Women’s Day, Youth Day). The evenings will feature special concerts, and variety shows at the Festival Village and other venues. “ Tributes dedicated to Artistic Icons lost in the midst of the pandemic will be organised. A major Gospel Evening will also be held. In addition, arrangements will be made to tour a number of acts in other venues in Ghana. Performances which pick up on the theme and the spirit of PANAFEST will be given preference.

Film Shows (Scheduled throughout the Festival)

Carefully selected documentary and feature films will be shown at several venues throughout the festival. Some film makers will be in attendance to discuss their productions. Artists’ Workshops (Scheduled throughout the Festival) Artists’ Workshops, Jam Sessions, Master classes and Community Workshops will be organised throughout the festival to ensure the sharing of aesthetics, philosophy and cultural background of artforms among participating artists. Also for an experience of emersion, sessions with artisans, traditional caterers will be organised .


REVERENTIAL NIGHT (31st July Every Year)

Reverential Night is the most sacred programme on the PANAFEST schedule. It normally begins with a “gathering” at the Mfantsipim Senior High School Junction with a bon fire from which candles will be lit and the procession formed made up of Asafo [traditional militia] companies, choirs (both local and international), festival participants, public officials. The candle light 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 inspiring music. After the wreath laying, a full scale tribute to the ancestors will be rendered through soul-inspiring music dance, poetry and theatre and film. A central activity is the Ancestral roll call. The Declaration of Emancipation will be read at mid-night.


EMANCIPATION DAY(1st August Every Year)

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. Wreaths will be laid at the graves of remains of ancestors returned from New York, Jamaica and Barbados on the way to the Donkonsuo , (Slave River).The pilgrimage to the Donkonsuo and the rites of purification at the river finally turns a site of preparation for an ominous future into welcoming waters of return and reintegration.