PANAFEST AND THE SLAVE TRADE

Assin Manso

This Year’s Panafest celebration was exceptional from the previous Panafest celebrations,because the event was characterized byTHE YEAR OF RETURN” project which intends to bring home those from the diaspora back to the motherland or Africa.This event has assisted Africans in the diaspora to know their heritage and now aware that,they are rather Kings and Queens who were taken forcefully without their will,the slaves taken from Africa were victim of deceit and greed of someones selfish interest.It also depicts some of the route and the ordeals our ancestors went through when taken away to captivity.

WHAT IS PANAFEST

panafest and the slave trade
The Ghana-Panafest

Panafest is an event which has been in existence for over a decade,it is a historical,cultural,spiritual and remembrance event that intends to enhance the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the development of the African continent as well as to promote unity.The celebration of the Panafest attract thousands of great personalities from the diaspora and other places.The Panafest is a spiritual event that seeks to rekindle the spirit of Pan-Africanism and sense of belonging,not what our brothers and sisters in the diaspora were made to believe that they were descendants of monkeys and live on trees.

IDEOLOGY

a slave medallion
medallion of the British Anti-Slavery Society

The idea that prompted our fore(fathers) to formulate this Panafest celebration is very immense and historical.It spells out one of the most horrific and diabolic event that took place some hundred of years ago,The slave Trade,naturally,should never happen to a humankind or may I say,a human should not do such an inhuman thing to his brother man or her sister woman no matter the circumstances,whether good or bad,if it is surely true that God really created us equal and we are all one and from the Adam and the Eve,why should a brother do such a thing to a brother man or sister woman.Even in this modern world,one is always criticized when he or she treats animal with cruelty,so how much more can you do such a thing to a human being.The ship that brought us the bible is the same ship that brought us guns,the ship that brought us Jesus and Christianity is the same ship that took Africans to the unknown.However,this kind of slave trade wasn’t in existence when Africans were worshiping their idols and in paganism.So the question is,who is Evil or the Devil?

The traumas,agony,pain and shock that our ancestors went through are unforgettable,the separation and destruction of families,clans and societies are some of it’s effects.The poverty that is swallowing African continent at this present time are some of it’s greatest effects that still lingers.The slave trade depleted Africa of it’s human and natural resources,the people who could build Africa at that time were used to build other empires or nations.Afterwards,they were killed,mutilated and neglected by their so called slave masters.Our ancestors were forced and whipped to build empires and create a living for people who never appreciate and respected the efforts and sweats of our ancestors.They were brutalized and raped whiles chains and shackles are still around their feet,neck and waist,again,what kind of humankind will do such an abominable deeds to his fellow human.

Blacks never treated other races like animals when African continent or blacks were ruling the world,our forefathers ruled places like the,Americas,Europe,Asia,Arabia,Oceania and other parts of the world yet no history can record such a severe slave trade like how the Europeans embarked to degrade and destroy Africa and her people.

HISTORY

‘Pan-African Historical Theater Festival’,is also known as The Panafest,it is an event dedicated to enhance and highlight the African culture,history,dance, poetry,drama,music and norms.

Jommo Kenyatta
Jommo Kenyatta

The Panafest was conceived by some great and brave African leaders,but it took ample time to become fruitful.Some of these great leaders who gave birth to this fervent celebration were Marcus Mosiah Garvey,H.I.M Haile Selasie,Dr.Kwame Nkumah,Jomo Kenyata,W.E.B  DuBoise etc,however,it was Dr. Mrs. Efua Sutherland,a distinguished Ghanaian Dramatist and Pan-Africanist who made the Panafest a reality.

Marcus Garvey
Marcus Mosiah Garvey,A freedom fighter

The Panafest is Celebrated every two years and it was first held in 1992 in Cape Coast,Elmina and Accra but it all started back in the 18th century with the emergence of abolition societies and advocates like Graniville Sharp, William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson who begun to question why.They forced the powers who were behind this trade and managed to abolish it in 1807,though the slave trade continued in other countries.The Panafest is an African story but Ghana is the main place where the Slaves were (stored) kept and transported to the unknown.There are over 30 castles and forts sprang across Ghana’s coastlines which signifies the Slave trade that took place almost 500 years ago,at least it makes those in the diaspora know where their ancestors were handled and taken to before departing.

THEME

One cannot understand why and how such a thing has to happen,because according to history,Africans were living in great societies and are in riches when the white men or the Europeans came,even the land on which they built their forts and castles were rented or bought from the local chiefs but at the turn and tick of the clock,the Europeans were enslaving the aborigines or the inhabitants.On the contrary,some African chiefs played a direct role in the slave trade,selling their captives or prisoners of war to European merchants to be taken as slaves into captivity.

King Jaja
King Jaja of Obopo in Present Nigeria

The prisoners and captives who were sold were usually from neighboring states or enemy ethnic groups,though other African chiefs refused to sell their captives,one noted chief was King Jaja of Opobo,in present Nigeria.Sometimes criminals would be sold so that they could no longer commit crimes in that area.At first the Portuguese were the ones who would come from the Canary Islands to raid on slaves but it was not long before African naval forces were alerted to the new dangers and the Portuguese raiders began to meet strong and formidable resistance,with the crews of several of them being killed by African sailors whose boats were better equipped at traversing the west African coasts and river systems,ask yourself,who built this better boats and ships that could traverse waters even before the Europeans came to our continent.Later the Portuguese came to terms or agreement with the African chiefs of some coastal African colonies in a form of trade in Gold,Ivory,spices and other vital resources for alcohol,gun powder,European cloths etc.This instances facilitated and flourished into the SLAVE TRADE.

SLAVE TRADE

slave-trade
Slaves parked/loaded in a ship

The trans-Atlantic slave trade involved the transportation of slaves without their will by their slave masters or through tribal,territorial or ethnic conflict.The slave trade regularly used the triangular trade route and its Middle Passage,about 12 to 15 million people were taken from Africa to the Western Hemisphere from the middle of the 15th century to the end of the 19th century.The Portuguese were the first to engage in the Atlantic slave trade in the 16th century.The slaves were needed for their plantations in the so called New world as well as to use them as human cheap labors to build their empires,they were to be sold to work on coffee,tobacco,cocoa,sugar,cotton plantations, gold and silver mines,rice fields,the construction industry,cutting timber for ships,in skilled labor,and as domestic servants.The slave trade did not only brought misery,pain and brutality but also the deaths of many millions of innocent Africans. Remember that,children were also taken into slavery as well as women.

African slaves
Africans taken as slaves to the Arab world. 

There is no accurate total number of people who died during slave raiding and wars in Africa and other parts of the world where most of them were taken to as well as during transportation and imprisonment, or in inhuman conditions during the Middle Passage.In 1526,the Portuguese completed the first trans-Atlantic slave voyage to Brazil,later other Europeans soon followed.Most of the slaves were captured from Senegal,Angola,Mali,Nigeria,Ghana etc.Though most of the European and Arab countries were part of the slave trade that seems so lucrative to them but Britain were the leading slave trading powerhouse.The largest numbers of Africans almost 5 million were transported to Brazil,South and Central America and the Caribbean,as well as to what is now the New world or the United States,others were also taken to Europeans countries like the Netherlands,Denmark,France,Britain and Portugal.

THE TRIANGULAR TRADE

slave arrangement
Drawing showing how slaves were arranged

I hope and believe most students in Africa are very familiar with this Phrase “The triangular Slave Trade“,because we have been studying this term from our Social studies or History books,though the explanation in our school books differ from the ones told by our ancestors from generation to generation. The trans-Atlantic slave trade is also known as the ‘Triangular Trade‘, since it was three-sided voyages,that is from Europe to Africa,from Africa to the Americas,from the Americas back to Europe.The first side of the triangle was the export of goods from Europe to Africa.The second is they export the enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas and the Caribbean Islands,final part of the triangle was the return of goods to Europe from the Americas,gods such as cotton,sugar,tobacco, molasses and rum,all this goods were produced by the sweat,toil and hard work of the slaves taken from Africa and they never get paid for all this heinous work.

ABOLITION

The Slave trade came to an abrupt end after protests of millions of ordinary people in Europe and the United States,also some African slaves who later became scholars begun to advocate about bringing an end to the slave trade,the abolition also pinched some slaves to revolt and rebel against slave masters in order to be free.

wilberforce
William Wilberforce an abolitionist

First Denmark abolished it in 1803,and Britain in 1807,later other countries in Europe and the Americas abolished the trans-Atlantic slave trade for a variety of reasons including changes in their economic requirements.However,an illegal trade continued for many years and slavery itself was not abolished in some countries until the 1880s. In Brazil for example, slavery continued to be legal until 1888.

the door of no return,Elmina castle
The door of no return and the execution chamber,Elmina Castle
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