Beginning next year, the celebration of Emancipation Day and Pan African Festival (PANAFEST) will begin from the Pikworo Slave Camp in Nania in the Upper East Region, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Akwasi Agyeman, has announced.
“Yearly, the celebration started from Accra but clearly the route starts from Pikworo, and must start from here going forward,” he said.
He said the day was historic, and that the celebration would start from the Pikworo camp through to Salaga, then to Bono Manso to Assin Manso before ending in Cape Coast and Elmina.
Mr Agyeman announced this when he addressed a mini durbar to commemorate the 2023 Emancipation Day and PANAFEST celebration at the Pikworo Slave Camp last Thursday.
The celebration was organised by the Upper East Regional office of the Ghana Tourism Authority under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture in collaboration with the PANAFEST Secretariat.
The event, which was on the theme: “Reclaiming the African family: confronting the past to face the challenges of the 21st Century”, was interspersed with cultural dance performances by the Sandema War Dancers and the Sakoti Dancers.
Mr Agyeman said the new initiative had come to stay, and would, accordingly, be observed annually.
He noted that the move was to remind everyone that everything about the slave trade started from Pikworo and must remain as such, stressing that it was important for everyone to understand the chronology of events about the slave trade.
Drown in tears
Mr Agyeman noted that despite the inhumane treatment the slaves went through, a considerable number of them survived and managed to have offsprings who returned home occasionally to come to terms with their heritage.
He noted that the GTA, being the coordinating agency for the Year of Return and Beyond the Return, was happy that many disaporans had come back to their routes, especially to the Pikworo camp where it all began.
“We were not born slaves, but it was rather someone who came with weapons and deceived our forefathers to enslave them,” he said.
Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority, speaking during the event
Gathering shed tears
A performance by school pupils depicting what the forefathers went through left the audience in tears.
It came about when pupils of the Roveca International School in Paga re-enacted the struggles of slaves captured from the areas as well others from neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali, went through before being transported to the coastal areas for onward transportation abroad.
The pupils received applause at the end of their performance as they pricked the senses of their audience with a performance that belied their ages.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu, said the choice of the camp for this year’s celebration was not a coincidence since the region was home to several historical sites, including the regional museum which hosted the museums and monuments for the entire northern areas.
He urged the people to re-affirm their commitment to freedom, justice and equality by recognising the progress the people of the country had collectively made as well as the opportunities ahead.
He said, “it is, therefore important that we uphold our rich African values which have been handed down to us through our ancestral heritage”.