Day 11 – Pan-African conference :to be or not to be?

all the visceral kinesthetic, verbal and visual experiences from the previous days fill me with such a heightened state of consciousness that i am glad to have an opportunity to just sit in a chair and hear brothers and sisters ‘intellectualize’….

Panafest’s Pan-African conference is to be held at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) over the course of 3 days…the theme is ‘Pan-Africanism in the context of Africa’s political and socio-economic development’!!!

such fodder for me to get lost in intellectual discourse and academic blah-blah GHANAIN style! i couldn’t wait….or could i?

i had forgotten to corner one of the Panafest organizers to tell me EXACTLY where the conference would be held at UCC…i venture over there anyway with a driver i had used previously….i thought that once we got on campus it shouldn’t be too hard to find out…i mean there should be signs and how big could the campus be?

the campus is HUGE! miles and miles of academia and development…A drives me around for twenty minutes before i decide to try to contact Panafest on a phone…he stops to get credits on his phone and i call C and then N…C calls back first and tells me that it will be at Sasakwa? BUT it is going to be cancelled …N calls and says he will be at the conference shortly…i am thoroughly confused but A seems to know where Sasa–ka-w?? is and takes me there….i approach a security guard there whom, after consulting with an administrator, affirms C’s statement that there will be ‘ no conference activities today’…i am shocked and so are the 15 others participants who arrive on a bus for the conference..or the 4 others in a taxi who don’t believe that it has been cancelled…or the 3 who walked to the campus…the administrator of UCC rides off on a motorbike to contact the president of the university and double-check if indeed there is a cancellation…NO ONE from Panafest is around to verify…finally 1 hour later N shows up as the Panafest rep and profusely apologizes for the sudden cancellation…he let’s us know that the “2nd day of the conference will convene tomorrow as scheduled at 9am on the dot!”…this conference’s speakers will not be rescheduled or shifted to tomorrow – we will only be having 2 day colloquim instead of 3…i have no other choice but to believe him… A, my driver, has been waiting all this time and i wonder aloud to N about how i should not have to compensate this driver for this mistake on Panafest’s part; that Panafest should be responsible for payment since i made a significant investment in registering for all these events including a 3 DAY PAN-AFRICAN CONFERENCE….

i retract my statement and pay the driver once i return back to the hotel…in lieu of the conference i decide to re-visit Elmina and take in the Fort as well as the surrounding area of the Castle…

in Elmina i walk around town and up the hill to Ft Jago

 

i begin to recognize the flavor of Elmina – how the people look, smell and speak distinguishes them from Cape Coast peeps…
An elderly gent approaches me at Ft Jago when he notices that i am not able to enter the locked entrance…despite his eccentricity ( imagine a homeless man in ny subway prophesizing), he profoundly professes about brotherhood and unity among all Africans…some younger men offer me food and to commune with them…there is an openess in their spirit that makes me smile…while walking about i am continually complimented on my skin, my clothes, my smile, my hair(i am still sporting my ‘afro-hawk’), my voice…it seems that they are truly trying to read/sense my origins, why i am there, who my relations are…or are some of them simply trying to get money? i think about this when i am approached by two thirty year old men whom share that they have no money and that, rather than steal (not necessarily from me but in general), they ask if i have anything to offer…touched by their honesty i take them to lunch at the restaurant adjoining the Elmina Castle…later i am told by a Castle security guard “to be careful of those thieves”…i am not phased by his words….

 D UNDERBELLY Home page

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Author: Barak adé Soleil

creative practitioner, independent consultant and curator. making dance, performance art and theatre. working within community.

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