Feature Article of Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Columnist: Ashie, Loretta Naa Dei
By: Loretta Naa Dei Ashie
I always use the National Museum road when commuting to work each morning. I have always enjoyed the serene atmosphere of the area even though the aura of the surroundings has scared me often times. For someone who has spent most of her life living outside Accra, the thought of what the Museums means to an ordinary Ghanaian has never occurred to me.
I therefore took the opportunity of paying close attention to the services of the National Museum when I started my national service at the Head Office of the Information Services Department (ISD).
Museums are institutions that provide the enabling environment and care for the collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and make them available for public viewing. These may be permanent or temporary.
There are several museums across the countries which include the National Museum, Accra, Museum of Science and Technology, Volta Regional Museum, Cape Coast Castle Museum, Upper East Regional Museum, Bolgatanga, St. George’s Castle (Elmina Castle) Museum, Fort Apollonia Museum of Nzema Culture and History.
The Ghana museums and monument board is an organization that is responsible for managing the affairs of museums in Ghana. The board undertakes the function of equipping and managing material cultural heritage of the nation.
The Board also affords visitors who are interested in knowing more about the Ghanaian heritage and also explore Ghana’s culture and history the opportunity to do so.
They further educate visitors on the culture Ghanaians, past and present, through its displays of traditional objects unique to Ghana and its showcasing of local artworks.
The National Museum in Accra, I am informed has two main seasons; the peak and lean season. The peak season falls within the months of May, and December.
Unfortunately, most Ghanaians do not take the interest in taking excursions to explore the vast rich heritage that the country possesses. The current trend is to explore beaches, eateries and drinking spots which in itself is not a bad idea as it adds up to the tourist potential of the nation.
Most Ghanaians do not patronize museums; this seems to be the case because the bulk of publicity has been directed towards foreigners. Most of my colleagues even though are aware of the existence of the National Museum, have never patronized any of the museums. They are at a loss as to what to expect if they should visit the Museum.
Well! I ventured to pay a visit to the Accra museum, guess what I was surprised at what the museum had to offer in terms of historical artifacts. A lot of what I had learned in my history lessons was there for me to see.
However, the poor state of the building and lack of infrastructure instantly numbed my enthusiasm. The inner perimeter of the museum was extremely warm as the air conditioners had broken down.
The building was poorly ventilated and there were obvious traces of cracks in the roofs. I wonder have we as a country deliberately playing down our history just like the Ghana Library Board is becoming a white elephant?
The museum needs to be re-roofed and air-conditions repaired and replaced. Visitors must also be assured of their comfort to increase repeat patronage.
A restaurant that serves Ghanaian dishes and also an Ananse krom were children could go and experience Ghanaian folklore, play traditional Ghanaian games such as ampe, oware and so on should be established to compliment the main activity of the museum.
Attention should be given to the Museums in Ghana; our journey to economic prosperity naturally entails selling our soft power. We should exude confidence in ourselves and our heritage; this is what proudly Ghanaian means.