Wreaths were laid at the W.E.B. Du Bois Centre, the George Padmore Library and the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park in Accra to officially commence the 2016 18th Emancipation Day Celebration.
The wreath-laying ceremony was in honour of three illustrious sons of Africa including Dr William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, the most prominent political activist of his generation of black intellectuals, George Padmore, a pan-Africanist and Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s First President.
This year’s Emancipation Day is on the theme: “Our Heritage, Our Strength,” with the sub-theme: “Empowering Our Youth through Pan African Culture.”
Representatives of the Government and People of Ghana, African Diplomatic Corps, Traditional Rulers, Diaspora African Forum, African-American Association of Ghana, Ghana-Caribbean Association and Youth of Africa laid wreaths on the graves of all the three African heroes.
The wreath laying ceremonies were attended by Nii Tettey Kpobi Tsuru III La Mantse, Nana Kobina Nketsia V, Omanhene of Essikado, Professor Esi Sena Addy, Convener of Culture Forum, Mr Michael Mayi, South Sudan Ambassador, Mr Ketai Gumbira, the Third Secretary from Zimbabwe Embassy.
Others included: Tourist Society of Ghana, Miss Tourism Ghana 2016 contestants, school children and well-wishers.
At the George Padmore Library, Mr Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola from State of Osun, Nigeria led the delegation to light the perpetual flame and file past the tomb of Padmore.
An enactment of the slave trade and a cultural performance by the Ghana Dance Company at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park preceded the wreath laying ceremony.
Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts said freedom is an absolute necessity in shaping the future of any society.
“We cannot grow and prosper unless we are free in body, mind and in spirit. As Marcus Garvey told us, in order to achieve national progress we must ‘Emancipate ourselves from mental slavery.’ In this context, the history of Emancipation and current economic development discussions are now linked in a common narrative,” she said.
Mrs. Ofosu-Adjare said this year’s Emancipation Day focuses on the youth because it is imperative that the current generation of African youth fully appreciate the reality of Africa’s history especially over the last three centuries and the importance the Transatlantic Slave Trade and colonialism have had on the current state of affairs on the continent and in the African Diaspora.
She said it is important to draw attention to the dangers of war, conflict and disunity, which created the conditions that sustained the inhumane trade for centuries and inculcate in the youth a resolve to foster peace, harmony and peaceful co-existence in a pluralistic and tolerant society”.
Mrs. Ofosu-Adjare added that the lesson that Africans are one family should be deeply ingrained to drive our determination to commit to greater integration and create prosperity for all.
Nana Nketsia called on Africans, not to allow themselves to be influenced by Western culture but adhere to cultural practices by their forefathers.
He urged Africans to be selflessness in their endeavours to achieve greater heights for the continent “as exhibited by our dead leaders including; Kwamena Mensah-Sarbah , Nelson Mandela, Nana Yaa Asantsewaa, Casely Hayford, Bob Marley, Martin Luther King, Padmore, Nkrumah, Du Bois and John Henry Clark.
Mr Rabbi Kohain Halevi, Executive Secretary, PANAFEST Foundation called on Africans to promote mother Africa and restore dignity by respecting each other and brothers and sisters who had returned from the Diaspora to support mother Africa.
“Let Emancipation Day remind us of our shared heritage as we use the vehicle of tourism culture and the creative arts to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood between our people,” he said.
Other programmes lined up for this year’s celebration include a Variety showcase dubbed: “Special Emancipation Variety Show,” at the Cape Coast Chapel Square on Friday, July 29, featuring some drama troupes, the Seven Asafo Companies of Cape Coast, poets and musical artistes, among others.
This would be preceded by a procession of the Asafo Companies, Masqueraders, and the Cape Coast Community, among others, from Robert Mensah Sports Stadium at Siwdu to the Chapel Square.
On Saturday, July 30, Assin Praso, which was part of the slave route, would take the centre stage where there would be a durbar of chiefs and people to commemorate the event.
On Sunday July 31, there would be a Reverential Night; a vigil to usher in Emancipation Day, at the Cape Coast Castle, where many ancestors were shipped as human cargo to the Americas and elsewhere to work on plantations as slaves.
A Grand Durbar of chiefs and people would be held at Assin-Manso, which is also part of the Slave Corridor, and home to the Nnonko Nsuo, otherwise known as the Slave River, where the slaves had their bath before being shipped overseas, on August 1 2016 to climax the celebration.
Emancipation celebration is a historic commemoration of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Crown Colonies in 1834 and the United States in 1865.
Ghana joined in the celebration of Emancipation Day in 1998 as an annual event for recollecting the horrors of the slave trade and honouring those who worked hard to overcome the challenges.