Confusion and speculation surround the unexpected cancellation of “The Convention,” a highly-anticipated Pan-African event organized by the New Africa Foundation, scheduled to take place at the Black Star Square in Accra, Ghana.
The sudden cancellation has left journalists and observers puzzled, with conflicting accounts emerging about the reasons behind this last-minute decision.
The New Africa Foundation, an organization dedicated to addressing challenges on the African continent, had meticulously planned “The Convention” as a platform to amplify African voices and discuss crucial developmental needs.
However, the event faced an unexpected shutdown, leading to varying narratives regarding what transpired.
According to a press release from the New Africa Foundation, the Ghanaian government cancelled the event just hours before its commencement. The statement expressed regret and described the situation as a shock and devastation to the dignitaries and special guests who had flown in from around the world.
The Foundation apologized for any inconvenience caused, asserting that the cancellation was beyond their control.
The confusion deepens as conflicting accounts surface. Some claim that the police and national security shut down the event, while others suggest that certain speakers, including Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, did not show up. Additionally, despite free tickets, reports indicate low patronage, adding a layer of complexity to the shutdown claims.
The event was not only significant as a Pan-African gathering but also as a platform to unveil the New Force political movement, widely believed to be financed by the enigmatic businessman, Cheddar. Speculations surround the appearance of speakers like PLO Lumumba, Julius Malema, and Peter Obi, with conflicting reports about whether they attended.
In response to the confusion, Bright Simons, Vice President of IMANI Africa and a political commentator, posed the rhetorical question in local parlance: “Azaaa or Baako Suro?” — a phrase expressing scepticism or uncertainty.
Jubilee House's explanation
Meanwhile, a letter from the Office of the President has indicated that a permit issued to use the Black Star Square for the Black Star Line festival has been revoked. The letter dated January 7, 2024, stated:
“We write to revoke immediately the permission granted per our letter No.OP/PH/02 dated 11th November 2023 which approved your request to use the Black Star Square for the above event.”
“This decision has been necessitated by an unforeseen State Event scheduled to take place at the venue. Under the circumstances, the amount of Ten Thousand Ghana cedis (GH¢10,000.00) paid by your office for the use of the venue will be refunded. We regret any inconvenience this may cause,” the letter signed by the Chief Director H.M. Wood for the Chief of Staff said.
Earlier, supporters of the New Force had thronged the Independence Square chanting patriotic songs as they demanded access to the venue for The Convention program. A press statement issued by the New Africa Foundation on Sunday night (Jan 7), explained that “The Convention,” a Pan-African event, which was to take place today at the Black Star Square in Accra, Ghana, has “been cancelled by the Government.”
“We regret to inform you that the Government has cancelled the above Pan African Event which was to take place today at the Independence Square in Accra, Ghana. All the special guests have arrived, and thousands of people have come from all over Ghana as well as around the globe for this historic event.”
“We have just been informed of the cancellation of this event a couple of hours before its commencement. This event was approved by the government in November of 2023. This came as a shock to us and a devastation to our dignitaries and special guests who flew in from around the world.”
“We at the New Africa Foundation apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused to our audience and the public alike. Please be aware that this situation is and was beyond our control,” the statement said.
Professor P.L.O. Lumumba said, “We came to Ghana to share a message of hope that Africa needs at this time and there is no better place to begin that message than Accra, Ghana.”
“It is in Accra that Osageyefo Kwame Nkrumah almost 67 years ago, spoke to the world and said the ‘Independence of Ghana is meaningless until it is linked with the independence of the African continent'.”
He said 67 years later, they were congregating in Accra in the very same place where the founding fathers of Ghana stood to make that statement but they were stopped bizarrely.
Professor P.L.O. Lumumba, however, said, “the message will be served” as the journey of hope “continues with the youth.”
He said he believes elements are conspiring to distract them from achieving their goal but it is not “an occasion of lamentation but for redoubling our efforts.”
He described the event in Accra as “serendipity” and added that “it heralds a great future for Africa.”
“Looking forward, a meeting such as this will happen not only here in Accra, but I am looking forward to it happening in Ouagadougou, Dakar, Nairobi and Johannesburg because this is about the African continent.”
“We are saying this at a time when we have promised ourselves that Africa is going to be more intimate in our interaction. This is why the African Continental Free Trade Area is headquartered in Accra.”
Current mood at the Independence Square, Accra. What was projected to be a well-attended unveiling ceremony for the leader of the NEW FORCE MOVEMENT has stalled. Reports circulating is that the organisers have been forced to call off the event, choppers were seen flying around… pic.twitter.com/bFTEwdojC8— GHOne TV (@ghonetv) January 7, 2024