The Deputy Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Mark Okraku-Mantey, has stated an urgent need to repatriate and restitute cultural artefacts, film and intangible cultural heritage of Ghanaian origin held in Western European nations.
According to him, several negotiations have taken place for the return of these cultural objects outside the country, with their exact locations yet to be known, the demands, however, have been denied or ignored.
“There are about 46,000 of 90,000 African cultural objects that Europeans acquired on the continent between 1885 and 1960 now under the custody of the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris”, the Deputy Minister added.
Hon Mark Okraku-Mantey made this statement during the inauguration of a twenty-two (22) member Ghana Focal Team on Reparation and Restitution of Illegal Trafficked and Stolen Cultural Heritage and Artifacts in Accra on Tuesday, 12th April 2020. The Team, chaired by Prof. Kodzo Gavua of the University of Ghana, has the following as its Terms of Reference: Be the liaison between the public and the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture on the issue of restitution and reparations, identify and support researchers to elicit data that will support the government’s call and demand for restitution and reparation, prepare Ghana’s case for restitution of cultural heritage assets and reparation for consideration and action by the government, work with researchers and the media to embark upon public outreach programmes that will garner support for the government to demand restitution and repatriation. It is also to collaborate with the Ghana Heritage Committee and mandate state institutions such as the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB), the Security Services and the Judicial Service to minimize the illegal acquisition and trafficking of Ghana’s cultural heritage assets.
Hon Mark Okraku-Mantey added that the ministry would lend its support to the team and implore citizens to offer the same to enable the team to meet their mandate.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Diallo Abdourahamane, from the UNESCO Country Office, congratulated Ghana on the decision to reclaim its lost and stolen cultural artefacts following the 1970 convention of UNESCO that prohibits the illicit import, exports and transfer of ownership of cultural properties acknowledging neighbouring African countries like Mali, Nigeria and Benin who have done the same.
He noted that, even as actions are being taken to return these artefacts, there is the need to prepare well-structured and constructed Museums to house them and assured the focal team of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO’s) full support.
Prof Kodzo Gavua from the Department of Archeology, University of Ghana indicated that there would be a need for the general public as well as researchers to re-access and reinterpret these artefacts to evoke positive images of the African identity and also inspire the youth and give them a future.
He added that there is a need to rethink and conceptualize the kind of museums the country would need.
He also urged the media to play their role strategically, such that they will not only provide coverage but play active roles to ensure they disseminate information to the public.
The members of the team include Madam Janet Edna Nyame, Mr Richard Commey Fio, Miss Josephine Ohene-Osei, Mr Christopher Wetcher, Mr Kofi Ohene Benning, Mr Alexander Koomson, Mr William Boateng, Mr Mii Kwate Owoo, Abigail Naa Odoi, Mr George Kojo Amoah, Mrs Nelly Spio-Abadioo, Mrs Esther Esther Gyebi-Donkor, Mrs Emelia Lomo-Tettey, Mr Malik Saako Mahmoud, Mrs Mavis Kusorgbor, Mr Diallo Abdourahamane, Okotwaasua Kantamanto Oworae Agyekum III, Nana Ofosuaa Ofori-Atta Ayim, Mr Kingsley Ntiamoah, Mrs Akosua Saah Buckman and Prof Apoh Wazi.
Source: Public Relations Unit