Emancipation Day: A time for solemn reflection, celebrating freedom on Ghana’s journey 

By Adu Kennedy  

Accra, June 18, GNA-Emancipation Day holds a profound significance in Ghana, a nation with a rich history of struggle, resilience, and liberation. The word emancipation means to be free from restraint, control, or the power of any entity.  


It comes from a Latin word combining the prefix e-, meaning “away” and mancipare meaning to transfer ownership of. Putting together, emancipation means transfer away of ownership.”  

In Ghana, this annual commemoration, observed on August 1st, every year and serves as a sorrowful reminder of Ghana’s fight against slavery and colonialism, while also highlighting the ongoing pursuit of freedom, equality, and social justice.  


As the nation gathers to celebrate Emancipation Day, it provides an opportune moment to reflect on Ghana’s journey, acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead, and reaffirm the commitment to a better and brighter future. 

Emancipation Day marks the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in the British Empire in 1834 and the emancipation of enslaved Africans.  

It recognizes Ghana’s pivotal role as a hub of the transatlantic slave trade and the subsequent efforts to dismantle this horrific trading system.  

The coastal forts and castles, such as Elmina and Cape Coast, stand as solemn reminders of the painful history that Ghana endured.  

Emancipation Day serves as a platform for remembrance, education, and a collective vow to never forget the atrocities of the past. 

Emancipation Day is not only a day of remembrance, but also a time for vibrant celebrations and cultural revival. Throughout the country, colorful parades, traditional ceremonies, music and dance performances, and intellectual discussions occur.  

This celebration showcases the diverse cultural heritage of Ghana and serves as a testament to the resilience and strength of the Ghanaian people. It is a moment to honor ancestors, embrace cultural identity, and foster national unity among different ethnic groups. 

Role of GTA 

The Emancipation Day celebrations are organized by the Ghana Tourism Authority under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and other bodies like the Pan-African Historical and Theatre Festival (PANAFEST) foundation.  

During the celebrations, Ghanaians and visitors pay homage to historical sites like Assin Manso, where enslaved people were held captive to take their last bath before being shipped overseas. Memorial services and wreath-laying ceremonies are done to honour the ancestors. 

While Ghana has made significant strides, Emancipation Day serves as a reminder of the persistent challenges that the nation faces. Issues such as poverty, inequality, corruption, youth unemployment, and environmental sustainability require continuous attention and action.  

It is a moment to renew the commitment to address these challenges and build a more inclusive, equitable, and prosperous Ghana for all its citizens. Education, job creation, good governance, and sustainable development must remain at the forefront of the national agenda.  

2024 Celebrations 

This year’s Emancipation Day Celebration is on the theme. “UNITY AND RESILIENCE; BUILDING STRONGER COMMUNITIES FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE.” As we celebrate the legacy and the victory of our ancestors, it is incumbent on us to unite and build stronger communities for all regardless of our race, gender or ethnicity. 

Imagine the agony, the torture of walking in chains from the Northern or the Western part of the country to the Central part, where our ancestors were shipped to Europe. This slave raid was brutish, nasty chaotic and inhumane experience our ancestors endured. This tragic occasion must remind us about where we come from and bind us together as one people.  

Cultural Heritage 

This is a moment we must cherish and embrace our cultural heritage and traditions. It is a time African politicians and their cronies must eschew from plundering the wealth of their various countries and stop misappropriating public funds that could have been utilized to ameliorate the lot of their people to feel proud as citizens.  

“It beholds on us as citizens, journalists, politicians and civil servants to encourage ourselves to improve humanity, dignity and the spirit of patriotism.”  


Emancipation Day attracts both local and international tourists who are interested in understanding Ghana’s history and culture.  

The influx of visitors during this period stimulates the tourism industry, leading to increased revenue from accommodation, transportation, food services, and other tourism-related activities.  

Many tourists also partake in guided tours, visit historical sites, and engage in cultural events, contributing to the overall economic growth of the country.  

Besides, Emancipation Day celebrations often involve various cultural performances, music, dance, and exhibitions.  

These activities showcase Ghana’s rich cultural heritage and provide opportunities for local artists, musicians, craftsmen, and artisans to display their talents and sell their products.  

The celebration helps to promote the cultural and creative industries, leading to increased income and employment opportunities for individuals involved in these sectors. 


As Ghana celebrates this year’s edition of Emancipation Day, the activities start on 22nd July, 2024 with the commissioning of the Salaga Slave Market at Salaga in the Savannah Region of Ghana.  

Subsequently there will be host of activities such as Durbar at Pikworo Slave Camp, Tribute to the Ancestors at W.E.B. Dubois and Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, Durbar of Chiefs at Assin Praso, Echoes of Culture Celebrating Diasporan Diversity at the Elmina Fishing Harbour, Reverential Night at Cape Coast Castle and the main event, Emancipation Day Durbar at Assin Manso. 

It is an opportune moment for introspection and envisioning a brighter future. It is a time to honor the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom, to recognize the achievements made, and to challenge the status quo.  

Embracing the spirit of Emancipation Day, Ghanaians can collectively work towards a society where every individual enjoys equal rights, economic opportunities, and social justice.  

It is a call to action, urging citizens to build on the legacy of liberation and forge a path toward a truly inclusive and prosperous nation. 

“Emancipation Day stands as a powerful symbol of Ghana’s journey from oppression to freedom. It provides an occasion for both celebration and reflection, honoring the past and inspiring a better future. As the nation commemorates this significant day, let it serve as a catalyst for unity, progress, and the relentless pursuit of social justice.  

By acknowledging the challenges, embracing cultural heritage, and working towards a more inclusive society, Ghana can rise above the shadows of the past and create a brighter tomorrow for generations to come, and never again must we allow ourselves to be enslaved either physically or mentally.  

Never again are we allowed to be colonized and oppressed. 

The Writer is a National Service Personnel, Corporate Affairs, Ghana Tourism Authority