PANAFEST 2023: Africa Must Focus on Development – Ghana’s Minister of Tourism


25 July 2023. Accra

Ghana’s Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, has stated that Africans must go beyond political emancipation and shift the focus on the economic development of the continent. According to a news report on, Dr. Awal said this at the 25th wreath laying ceremony in commemoration of the 2023 PANAFEST/Emancipation Day Celebrations, on Monday, in Accra.

The minister noted that “to achieve this, as Africans, we must build partnership and relationships with the motherland so that we can develop from there and ignore the Western image of Africa. To the Western media, Africa is hopeless, but we are beyond that.”

Wreaths were laid at the William Edward Burghard Du Bois Centre, George Padmore Library, and the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park in honour of the departed leaders and freedom fighters.

The theme for this year’s PANAFEST is: “Re-claiming the African family: Confronting the past to face the challenges of the 21st century.”  The Emancipation Day celebration is on the theme: “Emancipation! Empowering the African family to confront challenges of the 21st century.” 

The Minister said it was important to rebrand and turn Africa around for the world to know that Africans were one and good people with natural resources, and diverse culture, saying “we need strong partnerships with the diaspora to do this”.

“Let us build the human resources of Africa by extending a hand of friendship to them, so that together we can help change the narrative of the continent in future.”

Mr Jason Carter, Chief Executive Officer, ONE Musicfest, said Ghana held a special place in the hearts of many African Americans as the first African country to gain its independence from colonial rule, and possessed the potential of rising above the shadows and becoming the beacon of progress for Africa.

Mr Carter said “today the world has transformed, and the global community has showed that engaging our roots would go a long way. We must embark on a collective journey that demands unity, innovation and excellence. We must overcome the challenges that have held us back…”

Prof. Esi Sutherland Addy, Chairperson, PANAFEST Foundation, said Emancipation was not an event but a process, saying the path had been laid and it was important to continue from where the ancestors left off.

She urged all governments in Africa to reach out to governments in the Caribbean who were fighting for reparations. “The only way we can do that is to do this together, and hope that in the future we would be proud of our steps.”

Mr Akwasi Agyeman, Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Tourism Authority, said the celebration was to commemorate history, honour the sacrifices, persistence, resistance, and resilience of the ancestors, unite, and reflect on the past.

He said as a continent it was time to “reeducate ourselves about what emancipation meant, about what the struggle meant and what the forbearers and ancestors went through hundreds of years of struggle to free us.”

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