24.08.2006 Travel & Tourism

Chiefs' Role Vital In Emancipation/PANAFEST Celebrations - Jake

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Traditional rulers have a vital role to play in the celebration of Emancipation and PANAFEST since they were the recipients of people who visited Ghana from the Diaspora. Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister for Tourism and Diasporan Relations, said yesterday.

He told the Planning Committee meeting for the celebration of Emancipation/PANAFEST 2007 that a series of workshops would be organised to educate chiefs on the importance of the celebrations and their roles as traditional rulers.

He said educational activities would also be organised for the general public to understand the celebration of Emancipation and PANAFEST in Ghana for them to be active participants of the events.

The Emancipation/Panafest 2007 coincides with the launch of the “Joseph Project” and Ghana's 50th anniversary celebration. The “Joseph Project,” aimed at facilitating the spiritual return of the more than 30 million Africans in the Diaspora to Ghana, would be officially launched in 2007.

"As a build-up to 2007, Emancipation Day celebration is being expanded and enriched with activities that will be both educative and exciting," Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said. Emancipation/PANAFEST 2007 would also involve a pilgrimage tour of slave sites in the Northern Ghana, which was a major source of slaves from Ghana.

The “Joseph Project” would start off with a gathering in Ghana of Africans in the Diaspora and chiefs from the West African coast whose predecessors were active in facilitating the slave trade to appease the returnees on behalf of their ancestors.

The Minister explained that the project sought to encourage every African in the Diaspora to embark on a pilgrimage to Ghana at least once in their lifetime, then subsequently as tourists and eventually to invest in the country. All slave forts, castles and other landmarks would be developed to offer different and unique experiences that every African in the Diaspora would be eager to experience.

Mr Rahbi Kohain Nyanli Haleve, Executive Secretary of PANAFEST, suggested that an education campaign to erase the negative propaganda that Africans sold their own brothers and sisters to be slaves should also be dealt with. He noted that there was so much negative propaganda about Africans to Africans in the Diaspora and it was important that Ghana told the true story to heal the initial pain.

Ms Esi Sutherland, a member of the Planning Committee, who shared the concerns, said the youth of Ghana must be educated through various forums to enable them to identify, understand and share the meaning of the celebrations.

She noted that most Africans living in the Diaspora expressed hurt feelings when people in African countries did not share their concern about Emancipation. "People, especially the youth, must be taught about the slave trade to enable them to identify with the celebrations," Ms Sutherland emphasised.

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