Upon invitation to commemorate PANAFEST International Expo (PIE UK), the Ghana High Commission in the UK in tandem with the Panafest Foundation hosted a cross-section of the media to its launch celebration on Friday, July 19th 2019.
According to the organisers, the PIE UK is a yearly event that seeks to celebrate the strength and resilience of African culture and Africa's achievement in recognition of the lessons of history.
It is further aimed at providing the opportunity to foster political and economic collaboration and strengthen cultural and social ties between home-based Africans and their brothers and sisters in the Diaspora.
A welcome remark by Mrs Matilda Alomatu Osei-Agyemang Minister and Head of Chancery at the Ghana High Commission gave weight to the media launch of PIE UK 2019.
She said: “ I am particularly honoured that the Ghana High Commission is hosting and facilitating the media launch of the Panafest International Expo which forms part of the year of return.
“I am honoured because the larger picture of 'The Year of Return' has caused excitement across the whole of Africa and the world at large.
“Our president his excellency Nana Addo Dankwah Akufu Addo is representing entire Africa and extending a hand of brotherhood to all Africans in the continent and the diaspora who have transported some four hundred years ago to an unknown destination in the most degrading and inhumane manner.
“This event is very symbolic because the historical and cultural ties between Africa and those of us who were torn away from us is real in-formidable. In our own small ways, we are taking steps to comfort each relationship.
“Not only through music, dance and social events but through forging close economic, trade and cultural ties in order to contribute to sustainable economic growth, by reducing our dependence on external development assistance and inspire a higher level of pride and drive in us and our dependence.
“By so doing we are adding credence to president Nana Akufo Addo's 'Ghana Beyond Aid' and Africa Beyond Aid' clarion call.
“To become more effective partners in world affairs, there is a need for deeper levels of association and more direct contacts which is now increasingly being felt by those in the diaspora.
“And it is important that Africa, and in particular, Ghana responds to these need. Ghana bears a bigger responsibility as the first country, south of the Sahara to attain independence and we have always felt a sense of responsibility to Africa and the diaspora.
Alluding remarks to some of the laudable achievement of president Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo's diplomacy on the African continent she said: “When we see the seat of government itself that is our president, leading this cause, we have no reason to sit on the fence.
“We need to bond and connect wherever we find ourselves. In our own individual ways, we will be feeding the collective as we facilitate the movement of people, goods and services and forge bridges with our brothers and sisters in the diaspora who are naturally part of us all.
Ending her address and highlighting the essence of 'The Year Of Return' in Ghana, Mrs Matilda Alomatu Osie Agyeman said: “Let us support His Excellency, the president of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo, the government and the people of Ghana, to give meaning to the resilient of the African spirit and the achievements of our African brothers and sisters in the new world order.”
As the Deputy Ghana High Commissioner, Mrs Rita Iddi added her voice by urging people of the diaspora to visit Ghana to see and feel for themselves saying: “During Panafest, you can meet a whole lot of people.
“And as some have not been to Ghana, when they get the opportunity to visit Ghana, they would see things for themselves as to what exists in Ghana and the opportunities that they can tap into in the development of the country and themselves.”
Talking about some of the challenges that hold some people back in visiting Ghana and Africa, the Minister Counsellor for Trade and Investment Mr Kofi Addo said: “it is the mind-set, just focus and say, you are part of the new Africa.
“We are altogether changing the narrative whether you in Ghana, Africa or the Diaspora, so be part of the new narrative that Africa is talking about.”
Prior to his performance Jupiter explained the reason why he has been chosen as one of the major Panafest Ambassadors, in that he said: “The powers that be in Panafest saw that my brand and that of my music ties in with the visions and missions of Panafest that is why I am part of this initiative.”
He further said: “We are working to extend the name and significance of Panafest across the United Kingdom and beyond the diaspora hence the UK Pie.”
DJ Frances Twista of GN Radio as the UK Panafest International Expo representative said: “ Panafest is to bring pride, unity, focus and the love of Africa to Africans and those who relate to Africa in the diaspora.”
In a related narrative in connection to the ‘Year Of Return’, President Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo in his ‘Year of Return’ speech, said: “But I would like to say in conclusion, that the most important consequences of all the activity we are to initiate, is that, together on both sides of the Atlantic, we will work together to make sure that never again, will we allow a handful of people, with superior technology, to walk into Africa, cease our peoples and sell them into slavery.”
Although what the president of Ghana has said might sound very promising, it still remains to be effectively seen and challenged, with regards to its implementation.
As it was a media launch, the organisers should have done more to invite enough media professionals to push the course of the PIE UK movement.
BY WILFRED CLARKE