MANY were drawn to tears at the Pikworo Slave Camp in Nania in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East region when pupils re-enacted the slave trade that happened several centuries ago.
Through drama, the pupils of Rovega Preparatory School demonstrated how Africans were held at Pikworo as slaves and the dehumanising treatment that their forebears who were captured as slaves were subjected to.
The stage play coupled with rich cultural performances were part of activities to kickstart the celebration of the 2023 Pan African Historical Festival (PANAFEST) and Emancipation Day in the Upper East region.
The Pikworo Slave Camp was founded in 1704 as a transit centre where slaves were kept in shackles, auctioned and later re-sold in the Salaga Slave Market, now in the Savanna Region.
They were then moved onto the Coast for shipment to French, English and Dutch slave traders.
The pupils, with an emotional display, depicted how Daggaw (one who started slave trade in the area) and his friends Samori Ture and Babatu from Mali and Burkina Faso respectively worked with slave traders to enslave their own African men.
The pupils showed how their forebears were chained, punished and transported as well as killed by their masters when they tried to escape.
Mr Akwasi Agyeman, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) , indicated that Africans were not slaves but were enslaved and the scars of the slave trade continued to live in the memory of many Africans.
“I was drawn to tears because coming here, we came in cars, trucks and buses and to hear that people were going to walk 150km in chains,” he said, adding “this is not just a play but a reflective moment for all of us to see what our ancestors went through and the fact that some of them could survive
“So, never again should we allow a handful of people to come to our land and seize the people and turn them into slaves.”
Mr Gerard Ataogye, the District Chief Executive for Kassena-Nankana West, indicated that it was imperative for all Africans to appreciate the struggles of the past and work with the ideals of unity among Africans and those in the diaspora to develop the continent.
“Past and current events have affirmed the reality that African unity is a prerequisite to the total emancipation of the Africa continent, so, I therefore admonish Africans in the diaspora to invest in development projects to support the underprivileged in our communities,” he added.
Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Upper East Regional Minister, noted that the celebration of Emancipation Day called for reaffirmation to ensure freedom and justice for all persons without fear of discrimination and urged the stakeholders to uphold African heritage to instill patriotism and sacrifice in the younger generation.
Mr Wisdom Ahadzi, the Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority, noted that Upper East Region was the home of tourists’ attractions with beautiful sceneries, rich culture and artefacts, and hospitality industry.
He encouraged stakeholders to invest in domestic tourism, especially in the region to promote sustainable development for job creation and poverty reduction.
PANAFEST is a cultural event that is held in Ghana every two years, for Africans and people of African descent, to promote and enhance unity, Pan-Africanism and the development of the continent.
It was held on the theme, “Reclaiming the African family, confronting the past to face the challenges of the 21th century”.
While Emancipation Day is celebrated every year in Ghana since 1998 to mark the abolishing of the slavery in the British colonies in 1834 and it was held on the theme, “Emancipation, empowering the African family to confront challenges of the 21th century.”