Accra, July 26, GNA – The celebration of African Emancipation Day must be seen as a complete call for the economic empowerment of African nations, Mrs Catherine Afeku, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, has said.
Mrs Afeku said: ‘It is time for Africa to grow beyond international aid and achieve economic independence, therefore, the focus of Africans should be centred on propelling the economic growth of their countries.
The Tourism Minister was addressing a durbar at this year’s wreath-laying ceremony in Accra, on Tuesday, to commence the celebration of the 25th Pan-African Historic Festival (PANAFEST) and Emancipation Day.
The event was called to pay tribute to the fallen fathers of Africa and of African descent, who by their toils, liberated Africans from servitude.
Three separate wreath-laying events were done on the graves of three illustrious sons: Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s First President,
Dr William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, a prominent political activist, George Padmore, a Pan-Africanist.
With the sounds of ‘Ateteben’ to dirges from the Ghana Dance Company, Dr Nii Kpobi Tetteh Tsuru, La Mantse, Mrs Afeku, and other dignitaries, laid the wreaths in a solemn mood.
Tributes were also paid to the big shots of Africa’s Emancipation including, Kwamena Mensah-Sarbah, Nelson Mandela, Nana Yaa Asantewaa, Casely Hayford, Bob Marley, Martin Luther King and John Henry Clark.
The Tourism Minister said these Heroes suffered pains and shame to build the African continent and saved Africans from slavery, therefore, it was only prudent for African leaders to build on their legacies.
She urged the leaders to shun dirty politics and focus on making Africa a better place to live saying: ‘If we want to move Africa forward we need to leave the shame and build the fame.’
She complained that some African leaders bandied political rhetoric instead of focusing on the economic liberation of their countries.
‘It is time to leave the long prepared speeches, speak from our hearts and walk the talk,’ she stated. ‘We cannot give long speeches about Africa, and shun the needed actions.’
This year’s PANAFEST and Africa Emancipation Celebration is on the theme: ‘Emancipation, Our Heritage, Our Strength’ and on the sub theme: ‘The Power of Pan-African Culture.’
The theme, Mrs Afeku noted, must be used to champion the economic interest of Africans, saying that: ‘Our leaders must put personal interests aside and pursue the collective interest of the people.’
‘Let us dream Africa first, read Africa first and live Africa first’ she said.
She assured gave the assurance that the Government was resolute to pursue Ghana’s emancipation to the fullest, especially in the area of economic development.
She also reaffirmed the commitment of the Ministry and the Ghana Tourism Authority to protecting the cultural heritage.
Madam Theresa Kwakye, the President of the African-American Association of Ghana, said Africa, despite her numerous suffering, continued to remain resolute in achieving progress.
“Despite the pain the people of Africa have suffered in building the continent, they are still determined, resilient and strong.”
She expressed appreciation to the people of Africa for welcoming returnees from outside the continent back to their root and urged Africans to unite for economic progress.
The 2017 PANAFEST and Emancipation Day celebration started on July 2 and would end on August 2.
It would feature activities such as a welcoming ceremony for Africans in the Diaspora, a durbar of chiefs and queen mothers, an Expo and an interfaith dialogue to highlight the roles played by religion during the slave trade.
Mooted by Efua Sutherland in the 1980s, PANAFEST is a biennial cultural event held in Ghana for Africans and people of African descent to promote and enhance unity, Pan-Africanism, and the development of the African continent.
The Wreath-laying ceremony was graced by Madam Claudia Turbay, Columbian Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Laudinar Aguiar, who is in charge of Diplomatic Affairs of Brazil and Chief Justice (Rtd) Uma Hawa Tejan-Jalloh, the High Commissioner of Sierra Leone.
Other attendees were Madam Emilia Almeida, who is in charge of Foreign Affairs of Angola and dignitaries of the Embassies of Zimbabwe, Niger, Nigeria, Cuba and South Sudan as well as some officials of the Ghana Tourism Authority, PANAFEST Foundation and Ministry of Tourism and other stakeholders.
By Gideon Ahenkorah, GNA