Mr Akwasi Agyeman, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), has declared the institution’s intentions to support and market the 2019 PANAFEST year of return and help make it a memorable one.
He said with the support by the Ministry of Tourism subsequent events would also be supported and help enshrine them in the nation’s tourism calendar.
Mr Agyeman said this during a consultative meeting with Mr Kojo Yankah, Founder of African University College of Communication (AUCC) in Accra.
The meeting was to initiate the process of developing a strategic plan to revamp PANAFEST.
He said GTA and the Ministry would support the marketing of PANAFEST Year of Return Year 2019 as well as future annual PANAFEST/Emancipation Days.
Mr Agyeman said GTA would collaborate with stakeholders to market the “PANAFEST Year of Return 2019,” as a brand.
He said PANAFEST/Emancipation Day would be celebrated annually to attract tourists into the country, stressing that “GTA is using tourism as marketing tool for the country”.
Mr Agyeman said in view of the new mandate and strategy to retool tourism as Cultural Marketing Brand for the country, the PANAFEST Secretariat and GTA would work closely.
“GTA will support the PANAFEST Foundation at various levels including establishing and funding a PANAFEST Liaison Office at the Accra Tourism Information Office,” he said.
The GTA CEO said the PANAFEST Board would be reconstituted with both international and national experts to review and strengthen the sector and the organization of its activities adding that “the capacity of PANAFEST Secretariat in Cape Coast would be strengthened to oversee the Local Implementation Committee and its activities”.
The GTA Chief Executive said the 2020 PANAFEST/Emancipation Day would be launched in August this year.
Mr Yankah said PANAFEST, a cultural event held in the country, seeks to bring Africans and people of African descent together and it was first held in 1992.
He said the idea of the festival is to promote and enhance unity, Pan-Africanism, and the development of the continent of Africa itself.
Mr Yankah recounted that 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 that remain suppressed.
“PANAFEST therefore 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,” he said.
Mr Yankah said Ghana’s coastline is dotted with now silent memorials to over 500 years of this most turbulent era in Africa’s history, which the festival consciously makes a site for confronting the effects of enslavement.
He said purging the pain of the diaspora, acknowledging the residual effects of the trade on the African continent and re-uniting to forge a positive future in the contemporary global environment are some of the aims of PANAFEST.
He said alongside 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.
Mr Yankah said it was designed to help Africans to reconnect with their strengths and thus be inspired to eternal vigilance, rededicate themselves to fully assuming the reigns of their own destiny in recognition of the lessons of history.