By Melvin Tejan Mansaray
The President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on African Leaders to intensify efforts to retrieve the continent’s looted cultural treasures, “ which are being housed in
the museums of the nations that stole them from us.”
President Addo made this call on Monday 24th May 2021 while delivering the keynote address at the opening of the Fourth Ordinary Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Pan African Parliament in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa focusing on the African Union theme, “Arts, Culture and Heritage – Levers for Building Africa We Want.”
The Ghanian President, Addo said the theme is commendable, noting that: “ A continent is defined by many things. It defined by its history – to an extent. It is defined by its geography – to an extent. It is defined by its economy – to an extent. It is defined by many other things. However, nothing defines a continent more than its art, culture, customs, heritage, and traditions.”
He recalled that aspiration five of the Agenda 2063 seeks an Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values, and ethics, noting that inasmuch as the continent must be proud of its history, culture, and arts, all must be mindful of the notion of modernization not necessarily being same as Westernization citing reference to Japan being a modern but not a western nation.
“The success or failure of our modernization will be determined largely by how well we preserve what is good about our culture, whilst modifying the aspects that no longer suit our needs,” President Addo said.
The Ghanaian President however makes an emphatic case for the protection of African arts and intellectual properties. “ As we dedicate this year to the promotion of Africa arts, culture, and heritage, against the backdrop of increasing global expression of interests and investments in the sector, we should use the occasion to promote the patenting of African creative designs to protect intellectual property, folklore and traditional knowledge, and adopt other measures to protect us against counterfeiting and piracy,” President Addo said.
He added that the “Africa We Want” may never be realized if we turn our backs on our arts, culture, customs, and heritage.
He however summed up his submission on the theme by highlighting that: “ Furthermore, we must intensify our efforts at retrieving our looted cultural treasures, which are being housed in the museums of the nations that stole them from us, and making money for them, instead of for us. Come what may, whatever the obstacles, we must get them back. I encourage all others to emulate the laudable examples of those countries which have committed themselves to the process of restoration.”
He however disclosed that the construction of a Pan African World Heritage Museum near Winneba in the Central Region of Ghana will house artifacts and cultural objects from all parts of the Pan African world contributing to the ability to imbibe a deep consciousness of the ideals and goals of Pan Africanism.