Prof. Amina Mama, Visiting Lecturer, University of Ghana, says Africa needs more than emancipation; real liberation of its economy as well as culture and politics.
She said “we want more than emancipation. We will mark emancipation to remind ourselves that the true path is liberation, and that freedom is not given. Our governments could be doing better but it would only be better if we push them.”
“We may be emancipated, but we are not emancipated enough because we cannot protect ourselves or enrich ourselves. We are the richest continent on the planet, with 30 per cent of the world's mineral sources, and yet we remain the poorest continent.”
Prof. Mama, made this observation at the Wreath Laying ceremonies at the W.E.B Dubois Centre and George Padmore Library, to kick start this year’s Emancipation Day celebrations, on the theme, “Our Heritage, our Strength” with the sub theme, “Re-engaging to consolidate our developmental agenda.”
She said Emancipation Day commemorated the dates on which emancipation proclamation was announced, and the slave masters re-guided their strategies and concentrated on the African minds, “thus our psychological emancipation must begin again with every generation.”
She said “we still have to emancipate our children and inform them about the proud history of struggles that pushed the white people to engage in emancipation, not because they wanted us to be liberated, but because they realized they needed to transform the ways and strategies of domination from brute force to succulent means.”
“What that means is they are no longer trafficking our bodies. They're focusing on our minds, and this is where culture and the way we style our cultural development, and our tourism is very important. We must not style it in a way that perpetuates myths, like the white people freed us. No, they did not.”
She said African states had left the most crucial things undone. “There are lots of things to be done by ourselves. We can welcome our diasporans, but they can't save us. We must together embark on efforts to continue towards liberation which requires economic as well as political and cultural change.”
Prof. Mama said the importance of celebrating and remembering the African history was that Africa would never get out of its current problems if they did not work harder and understand the difference between emancipation as a first step, and sovereignty as a necessary step.
Mr Mark Okraku Mantey, Deputy Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture, said the theme reinforced the fact that Africans were one family and should be deeply ingrained to drive the determination to commit to greater integration and create prosperity for all.
He said the stalwarts and heroes honoured soared above petty differences and sought the greater good of the bigger African family.
Mr Mantey said it was therefore ironic for people who had been traumatized by slavery and suffered discrimination because of racial differences to easily forget their common bond of brotherhood and tragically tear each other apart.
He said it was important that Africans had a common mind and strength to support each other and also change their narrative.
"We must never lose sight of the fact that many of our African ancestors experienced the most inhumane conditions and were forced to endure cruelty in some of its most horrific forms. In all that we celebrate, Emancipation must be held at the forefront of our minds as a triumph of the human spirit over evil and atrocity," he stated.
Chief Executive Officer, GTA, Mr Akwasi Agyeman, urged Ghanaians to use the celebration to reflect on how Africans could be emancipated from mental slavery.
"That mental slavery that holds us down, that makes us think that anything from us, within us, is inferior to what comes from the Western world and also makes us feel that we cannot eat Ghana, wear ghana, see Ghana and feel Ghana, it is time for us to change because the purpose for which we are here is a time for reflection.”
He said, "it's time for sober reflection, so that's these wreaths that we lay do not just become ceremonies. But really will speak to us on ways that we can engage and reengage for developmental agenda."
Prof. Esi Sutherland Addy, President, Pan African Secretariat, said it was crucial that Ghanaians played a role in keeping alive the flame and protecting the central truth that Africa and its people could best develop by reaching across continents to work together.
She said, “the W.E. B Dubois Center, George Padmore Library, and Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park as well as others across the country, were sacred sites, and we must make sure that we own them and the values they represent, make them accessible publicly at all times, and devise strategies that make them sacred places.”
Activities lined up for this year’s Emancipation Day Celebration include; Durbar of Chiefs and people of Assin Manso and Assin Praso (Central Region), Health walk, Masquerade show, Reverential Night, Candlelight night, Musical show, Healing ceremony among others and is expected to begin from 27th to 1st August,2022.