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Panafest enacts slave trade through drama 8/1/2007
Keta, July 23, GNA - The enactment of the slave trade in dance performance on Saturday by the Mixed Together Cultural Troupe from Anlo-Afiadenyigba created a melancholy atmosphere at the launch of Panafest/Emancipation Day Joseph Project at Keta.

Chiefs slumped in the their seats, the young gasped in disgust, visitors from the Diaspora shook their heads in dismay and the handful of white tourists were moved by the tortuous journey from slave markets in the sub region to Keta for shipment as cargoes to various destinations across the Atlantic.

The venue of the durbar was the beach of Keta, only a few meters from the remains of Fort Prezenstein, where the slaves were encamped before shipment.

The dancers portrayed how the slaves, chained together, walked long distances under guard, beaten at will by their masters, with many dying from hunger and ill treatment, before arriving at the Keta.

Agbotadua Kumassah, a traditional leader and historian, blamed the expansionist wars of local tribal groups, banditry and greed of traditional leaders at the time for fuelling the trade.

He said the slave markets in the Keta littoral zone included Atorkor, Woe, Adina and Blekusu, with supplies coming from Peki and areas in Benin, Togo and Badagry in Nigeria.

Agbotadua Kumassah said the trade became a major factor influencing economic, social and political developments in the area, with many powerful middlemen created, such as Geraldo De Lima.

He said the European slave seekers, supplied guns to local chiefs, which they used to destabilize the area to enable them to seize slaves, regretting that chiefs connived and abetted that trade in exchange for liquor, snuff boxes and smoking pipes.

Togbe James Ocloo V, chief of Keta said the slave trade was a bitter truth about the past which could not be forgotten but which should not happen again.

He regretted the role played by chiefs and asked for forgiveness, imploring brothers now in the Diaspora to help develop their former homelands.

Mr. Bingler G. Richardson, Former President of the US Virgin Islands Legislature who received the Unity Flame said; "as I look at your faces I see my aunts, brothers and cousins".

Mr. Kofi Ahiabor, Keta District Chief Executive (DEC) said the land use map being created by the district assembly would create "an enclave for our diasporan relatives".

Mr Kofi Dzamesi, Volta Regional Minister described the slave trade as "dehumanizing and demanded that bad customary practices still being practiced be stopped.

During a tour of Fort Prezenstein, some American tourists shed tears while going round the dungeons where slaves were kept and hearing tales of how stones were tied to the backs of those who did not meet the physical demands of the white purchasers, and dropped in the sea.


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