Waking up in the early hours of the morning wasn’t so bad as slept for most of the 3hr journey from Accra to Cape Coast accompanied with buddy Babs Ofori (@babs_ofori) for the next few days in aid of Panafest 2019. #Out of Accra.
Panafest, a cultural festival first held in 1992 takes place every 2 years between 24th July – 2nd August. With a planned ray of activities mostly taking place in the Central Region of Ghana to include – Chief durbar, candle procession, Emancipation Day, competitions, concert, conference, last bath. (www.panafestghana.org)
Upon arrival at One Africa House I was not greeted with my usual Akwaaba, as I was informed that I was 2 days late – lol. Minor mix up – although I wouldn’t have minded being out of Accra for extra 2 days. I have stayed in 8 out of the 10 chalets, this time settling into chalet named. Yemajah (orisha water deity).
After munching on a vegie burger and real potato chips I went for a small nap until the drums called me outside in the evening where a few guests were celebrating their earthstrong. It was a lovely evening serenaded by drumming, storytelling and melodies played on the Ngoni which looks like the Kora.
In the early hours of the morning, tired and not feeling too well – stomach was not my friend. We decided not to go on the boat scheduled from Cape Coast to Elmina Castle Dungeons. So headed mid-morning straight to Elmina to welcome those who took the voyage.
Over the bridge leading up to Elmina dungeons we witnessed the very fine procession of chiefs and their entourage in stunning African royalty attire. The locals cheered as they saw Omanhene of Edina traditional area – Nana Kodwo Condua 6th. It was a spectacular showcase.
By the coastline a chief and queen mother were positioned to receive the returnees and guests, which we had the privilege to partake. A goat was sacrificed, a clay mix was pasted on arms and libation was poured.
The forecourt was glistening in all 4 corners. In attendance were Queen mothers, representative from the Royal palace of Benin, honourable guests from Canada, Government Officials and distinguished guests from around the globe.
Speeches stated that it should be our culture to request of a visitors mission before you are welcomed in. It was mentioned that Central region had the largest community of Diaspora returnees in Ghana – therefore making this a special time to uplift Africa and Elmina.
“Need to re acquaint. We are one people, not to allow pettiness weaken us, so foreigners take advantage”
Otu – which is a dish of mashed boiled yam and yam mixed with palm oil accompanied with eggs – as part of the offerings. I have grown up having Otu as it is eaten on one’s birthday – but not had for a very long time.
Honourable Jean Augustine a representative from Canada stated 7.5% of people living in Canada identified to be African on recent status. Praised the rich culture Ghanaians have shared in Canada. Accompanying Ms Augustine from Canada was a young artistic group called Ngoma and Black Stars. Ngoma concluded the day’s activities with a drumming performance.
Organised by Abibikwantuo (www.abibikwantua.com) was a Sankofa retreat where we spent the next few nights on the beach front in Cape Coast at the Natural Bamboo Village guesthouse built and run by Brother Kobby. We ate delicious dinner together, followed by a beach screening of 3 films: Green Green Grasses, Captureland and Sankofa. The screening started late and with heavy eyes I reverted to bed listening to the heavy sea waves.
After breakfast of fruits and coconut juice, most of the morning to mid afternoon was spent chit chat, listening to music and relaxing on the beach until heading to Cape Coast New Stadium. The grand durbar led into the middle of stadium were everyone congregated on seats amongst traditional chiefs.
The president of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo arrived around 3.45pm, followed by the National anthem. The Traditional council of chiefs lined up to pay respect to the president and guests with libation pouring. Speech, about yesterday, Choir from Jamaica, Esi Sutherland speech. It was 2 Cedis to enter the exhibitors forecourt which was packed with arts and crafts, food, drinks, service providers and a big stage for the concert.
Evening – back at natural bamboo lodge we ate banku and pepper then late in the night congregated around a fire on the beach being entertained by musicians.
Day 4 – Late morning rise and the first time I have had waakye for breakfast (please don’t be surprised). i enjoyed the sea view until it was time to head back on a 3hr journey to Accra.
bless Sister E (Naa Dzamah)