Last year an educator from the Rochester City School District a native of Ghana and resident of Upstate- New York put a team of Ghanaian Natives from Osu together. They created and launched the Pilolo Pan- African festival in Christiansborg Accra – Ghana in August 2018. The main aim and vision of the festival were to create a platform to reunite the African Diaspora and the motherland for cooperation, unity and the re-birth of the African Renaissance. This project also aims at Osu youth development through art, culture and sports.
The name Pilolo, a traditional Ghanaian game which was played as hide and seek was chosen as the name of the festival. The organizers selected that name as a metaphor to explain that Africans in the Diaspora are hidden from the Africans on the motherland. It is time for Africans to seek each other out.
The Pilolo festival is housed in the environs of the Christianborg Castle. The Christianborg castle was built by the Danes and named after King Christian V of Denmark. The Christianborg Castle played a major role in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade as a slave holding and shipping port. Research shows that most slaves captured and shipped from the Christianborg castle ended up in the Danish Caribbean islands of Saint Croix, Saint Thomas and Saint John. This area was eventually sold to the United States and renamed the US Virgin Islands. The Christianborg area houses two other UNESCO World Heritage Homes, the Richter Home and Nii Okantey Shikatse We. Both homes were used by Danish slave merchants as holding places of captured slaves before being shipped to the New World.
Two Miles to the West of Danish X’borg Castle is Dutch Accra, the home of Usher Fort another slave shipping port. Across from Usher Fort is the renowned Salaga Slave Market where slaves were auctioned off before transported to the New World. Further West from Dutch Accra is Jamestown British Accra, the home of James Fort named after King James of England. The British used this Fort to ship slaves from Ghana to the New World. It is also interesting to state that James -Town British Accra is also a host community for the Tabons, a group of slaves from Bahia – Brazil who traced their origins back to West Africa after the abolishment of slavery and settled in that area.
The X’borg Group, a nonprofit conglomeration created and launched the Pilolo Festival to shed light on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. This event is organised to remind humanity never to allow such atrocity ever to happen again, to help victims and perpetrators to heal, and to allow the Diaspora re-unite to the motherland.
The festival was witnessed by representatives from Saint Croix, Saint Thomas and scores of people from the USA & Europe.
The Pilolo Festival was opened with a traditional ceremony amidst cultural drumming, dancing and the re-enactment of the slave trade. After the opening ceremony, participants made the final walk to Christianborg Castle, where they were given a tour of the Castle as well an opportunity to re-live their ancestors journey to the New World.
A musical concert was held in honor of Marcus Garvey at the intersection leading to Christianborg Castle. That intersection, which is popularly known as “5 Junction” was recorded as the “Last Walk”. It is believed that the captured slaves are auctioned at this intersection and allowed to cool in the shade before their final walk to the castle and eventually shipped to the New World.
Furthermore, participants got the opportunity to attend a wreath laying ceremony for all who perished on the voyage from Africa, through the middle passage, and upon arrival in the New World. Nii Sorse IV, the overlord the Christianborg Castle, who led the ceremony, poured libation and prayed for the souls who were lost through that avenue. Participants had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the ocean to receive blessings and healings as the overlord prayed.
The Pilolo Festival is an endorsed event by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture (MoTAC). In a speech read on her behalf by Mrs. Christine Dadson, the UNWTO Focal Person/ Heritage Homes Restoration Coordinator for MoTAC. The Minister urged the indigenes of Osu to embrace the Pilolo African Diaspora Festival to ensure socio-economic and cultural development of the people of the Osu enclave. The Minister further used the rare occasion to entreat the diaspora guests to return to Africa and contribute their quota towards the development of the continent. She commended the organizers for their laudable effort in organizing the event to reconnect with their kinsfolks outside the world.
Prof. Adjiri Wellington, also an indigene of Osu and the author of ‘Stones tell the story’, which depict the historical relations of Osu residence with Danish origins, emphasized that, the Pilolo festival should seek to bring back the diaspora who originated from Osu.
In conclusion, it is rightful to say that, three (3) miles along the Accra coast was a major slave Hub for most European countries that included the Portuguese, the British, the Dutch, the Swedish Danes just to mention a few.
The 3-day event was concluded with rites of passage, naming ceremonies, and a unification of the participants from the New World with their new found families from the motherland.
Pilolo 2019 will be held from the 16th to the 19th of August at Osu in line with the Ghana government tourism agenda marked as “The Year of Return” to commemorate the 400 years of slavery.
Abraham V. Nii Asem Steiner
Creator & CEO Xborg Group
Pilolo African Diaspora Festival
Xborg Group Osu Accra
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