PANAFEST: Re-Claiming the African Family


…confronting the past to face challenges of the 21st century

The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down tourism globally, and PANAFEST and Emancipation Day were not left out. According to the PANAFEST foundation, the main setting for PANAFEST is the twin towns of Cape Coast and Elmina in Ghana, where 2 massive fortresses provide a grim reminder of over 600 years of Europeans plundering West African resources, enslavement of the people and colonialism.

They are a reference point for the terrifying reality of massive alienation within the African family on the one hand, and the soul-soaring recall of the ancestors’ monumental resilience which must inspirit reunification of the Global African Family. PANAFEST 2023 has bounced back with the theme ‘Re-Claiming the African Family: Confronting the Past to face Challenges of the 21st century’. 

The PANAFEST Foundation claims that there seems to have been an unveilling of the vulnerable underbelly of the lived experience of many Africans. One aspect of this phenomenon is the extent to which an alarming number of young Africans – the largest proportion of the continent’s population – are becoming progressively alienated from the continent. 2023 heralds the 700th anniversary of an age of African ascendency – when Mansa Musa of Mali made his famous journey to the Middle East.

What are its implications? The challenges of the 21st century must be confronted to make way for Africans to work together and take advantage of transformational opportunities. Historical excavations of our foundations to guide the quest to make an African future is an essential exercise to undergird this process. Participants in PANAFEST 2023 are invited to fearlessly point out the challenges to re-uniting the African Family; and, very importantly, illuminate new paths toward transformations in our time through the stimulating power of drama, visual arts, dance, music and critical thought.

As it’s suggested that we point out challenges of the 21st century faced by the African, which includes the fact that currently the brain-drain from the African continent is on the increase. Many Ghanaians are leaving Ghana to the UK to work as caregivers. Others are doing all kinds of jobs. Many have sold their farms and used the resources acquired to buy a visa to the UK, USA, Canada and various European countries.

One challenge of the 21st century is to find out why the average Ghanaian prefers working outside the country. Recently, I heard of the issues in Dubai and how many young men where deceived into believing they were getting jobs. I also heard recently on BBC a nurse being interviewed, and she confirmed the relocation of more than 20 nurses in her department to countries abroad for greener pastures.

IOM spokesman, Jean-Philippe Chauzy, told VOA a growing number of highly skilled young professionals are heading toward countries such as the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. The International Organisation for Migration says an increasing number of qualified, educated young Ghanaians are migrating to foreign countries. It says this so-called ‘brain-drain’ could affect the country’s economic and development prospects.

Ghana remains attractive to migrants from West African countries because of its political stability and relative economic wellbeing. But at the same time, a new study shows that many educated Ghanaians who are unable to find suitable employment at home are going abroad in search of work.
The International Organisation for Migration study finds more than 70 percent of Ghanaian migrants stay in West Africa – but it says this trend is starting to change.
An IOM spokesman confirmed this is happening when he spoke to VOA, saying a growing number of highly skilled young professionals are heading toward countries such as the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.
The report, for instance, shows that 56 percent of the doctors who are trained in Ghana and 24 percent of the nurses trained in Ghana are now working abroad.  Similarly the report shows that 60 percent of faculty positions in polytechnics, for instance, and 40 percent of positions in universities remain vacant because there simply are not enough qualified people to take up those positions.


The IOM says the co-called ‘brain-drain’ has been increasing since the 1990s, and is worsening labour shortages in critical sectors such as health and education. It says Ghana does not have enough qualified teachers to train the next generation of nurses and doctors.
Poor working conditions and lack of opportunities for career advancement have been the main factors pushing qualified Ghanaians to seek greener pastures abroad.

The report shows, for instance, that a Ghanaian doctor finding employment, let’s say in Canada, will have a salary 25 times superior to the salary this person could have had in Ghana. The report recommends Ghana should create programmes that encourage qualified Ghanaians to return home for short periods of time so they can impart their skills to young people at home.

These are the real challenges the PANAFEST Foundation must address, and work with government and NGOs to encourage Ghanaians abroad to return home and those in Ghana to stop leaving. This is a big test for the country and African continent as a whole. It’s a pity that the youth seem to prefer anything foreign over the domestic options.

Another big challenge is affordability. The cost of travelling around the country
deters the youth, especially, from engaging in domestic tourism. A few years ago, I was in Assin Manso and Cape Coast to witness the Emancipation Day celebration. The number of Ghanaians attending the event was low – and it has continued to be so. Who bears the blame?

The irony of the situation is that in the early inception of these two events, attendance from the diaspora was high and these two events were enough to attract them to Ghana. The aforementioned challenges will be erased when domestic tourism becomes the focus. This theme reverberates with the average Ghanaian tourist only when we begin to stop the brain-drain.

Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd., a Tourism Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana, with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to [email protected] / [email protected]. Visit our website at or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901.Visit our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations

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