I was a bit annoyed back in August when I read Travis Kavulla's description of his time at Panafest, a biannual festival in Ghana which celebrates pan-Africanism. While I have liked the incisiveness of some of his past writing, this piece took too many cheap shots. For example, his second paragraph:

PANAFEST—not an acronym, but unfailingly capitalized by Ghanaian journalists—is a sordid affair that mixes tedious, egotistic African government types with local Rastafarians conniving to profit off of stupid tourists with the mushy, self-righteous black American tourists themselves, coming "back to Africa" to rediscover their roots.

Since Kavulla only provides generalities to back up his accusations, it is difficult to determine how valid the majority of his points are. To write an effective response, it would have been necessary for me to somehow go to Panafest. Luckily, sophomore Ofole Mgbako provides a different perspective. While Kavulla felt that the organizers and attendees of Panafest felt Caucasians were responsible for slavery (thus allowing Kavulla to repeat the conservative talking point that slavery benefited and was supported by Africans[1]), Mgbako suggests a more reasonable viewpoint - the legacy of African slavery is one that both blacks and whites share:
White people, who may have visited Ghana for a week, perhaps facing an awkward conversation or two, might have left with a misconstrued perception of slavery and Africa. I'm happy however, that many of the white people I met left not feeling blame, but feeling the same ownership I have. Ownership of the fact that historical inequities cannot be separated from present-day circumstances; that all of our histories are intertwined in Ghana—the British, the Ashanti, the Dutch, the Fante; that while they may face some unexpected questions, they will not allow themselves to fall into the exact same vein of ignorance as their inquisitors.

[1] Of course, this viewpoint ignores the economic benefits that African collaborators gained by participating in the slave trade. Why is this important? Because the trade goods that European slavers gave their African counterparts were enough of an incentive to increase the number of slaves captured. This changed the character of both African slavery and intertribal relations, by increasing the incentive that powerful tribal confederations (like the Ashanti) had to capture and enslave prisoners from other tribes. This both increased the incidence of warfare in pre-colonial Africa, and gave Europeans a reason to intervene and create colonies.