Mr Henry Yeleduor, the Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) says tourism, arts and culture should serve as the vehicle to remind Ghanaians of their shared heritage as they celebrate this year’s panafest/emancipation day.
He said the day offered the people of the Region, especially the Nania community in the Kassena-Nankana West District the opportunity to honour their brothers and sisters who were carried away into slavery about 400 years ago.
“This is a very solemn occasion and it reminds us of the dastardly act of hauling of our brothers and sisters into slavery, where some of our ancestors experienced the most inhuman conditions.”
Mr Yeleduor was speaking at this year’s Regional Panafest/Emancipation Day Celebration held at the Pikworo Slave Camp at Nania.
Panafest was held on the theme: “Securing the African family, our wealth, our soul,” while the Emancipation was celebrated on the theme: “Reclaiming our right to weave our own narrative.”
The Regional Director said Panafest/Emancipation day was celebrated to commemorate the survival of Africans taken into slavery and also enable them remember the millions of people who fell in the course of the struggle.
“It celebrates the resilience of the African spirit and affords us the opportunity to call out and acknowledge all our brothers and sisters who are here and out there in the diaspora, making strides and still flying high the flag of Africa,” he said.
Mr Yeleduor said the day signified a rebirth for them as a people, and should serve as an avenue to rebuild and regain their loss as a Region, country and Africa at large.
He noted that Pikworo held the remnants and comprehensive package of unique and exciting vestiges of the slave trade, saying that it was also the preferred route and holding point for slaves.
He said “We are using this forum to highlight the important place Pikworo holds in the history of the slave trade and slavery activities in the Sub-Region.
“Fortunately for us, the site will be seeing a face-lift as promised by the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal when he visited Pikworo as part of his working visit to the Upper East Region,” he added.
He said a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) had already been signed between the Nania community, the District Assembly and the GTA to kick start the process.
He expressed gratitude to Mr Jason Barnes and Mr Stewart Fields, who are black Americans and members of a group referred to as ‘The Movement’ for their immense contributions to the development of the Pikworo Slave Camp.
Mr Gerard Ataogye, the District Chief Executive for the area said the Pikworo Slave Camp remained an indelible mark in the celebration of Emancipation Day and appealed to all interested development partners and stakeholders to help the Assembly develop the slave camp to attract more tourists.
He said the District was blessed with other equally important tourist sites that required development, and mentioned the Zenga and Chief Crocodile ponds as sites that could boost tourism in the Region.
Mr Fields, and Mr Barnes who both addressed participants, emphasized the need for Africans to unite to rebuild Africa, saying “Africa is where our future is.”
Wreaths were laid as part of the celebration at the cemetery of the slaves on behalf of the Government and people of Ghana, the traditional authorities, and the diaspora community.