International heritage matters conference underway in Accra
Accra, Dec. 15, GNA - A three-day international conference to explore issues of heritage, including language, history, politics, archiving and tourism opened in Accra on Tuesday.
The conference would offer the participants the opportunity to explain in more analytical and critical terms the matters of heritage, the exercise of power and authority as well as its contestation by various interest groups to enhance awareness and understanding of the concept among the citizenry.
Scholars and activists drawn from the University of Ghana, University of Michigan, USA, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Cape Coast and International African Institute, organisers of the event, are attending the conference dubbed: "Heritage Matters Conference."
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr Alexander Asum-Ahensah, Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture, said the country had failed to derive maximum benefits from her heritage to enable her citizenry to understand and appreciate the role it plays in generating and sustaining local and global identities and their potential for strengthening civil society in pluralistic democracies.
Mr Asum-Ahensah, whose speech was read on his behalf, cited challenges in the country's legal framework as well as the inability to link her heritage to the way of life of her people as some of the factors preventing her from deriving maximum benefits from her inheritance.
In view of this, the Minister announced that his Ministry, in collaboration with the Attorney-General's Department, was reviewing the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board Law to address the challenges that hindered the operations of the Board to enhance effective development, preservation and sustenance of the country's rich heritage.
Mr Asum-Ahensah said the current stage of the country's development required that all available resources, especially heritage which formed the basis of her existence, were harnessed to serve as guiding principle for policy formulation.
He commended the universities for organizing the conference saying it would serve as research area for other institutions outside of Africa as well as enable their students to study and appreciate the rich cultural heritage of the continent.
"There is so much that Africa can contribute to the wealth of the world," he added.
Professor Kwesi Yankah, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, said in today's world of globalisation, heritage was the pivot around which marginalised cultures converged and formed strategies of survival because indigenous cultures stood the risk of being completely overrun by mainstream dominant cultures.
Professor Yankah said lack of sensitivity to unique icons of heritage was a sign of self-alienation, adding that "if you forget the melody of your state horn on durbar grounds, you lose your bearings in the thick crowd".
He said the University of Ghana had continued to preserve cultural as well as intellectual traditions and also held on to the tenets of a vibrant and prolific Institute of African Studies and School of Performing Arts that together intensely studied various aspects of cultural heritage.
Prof. Yankah said the University was revising its campus-wide required courses for graduation adding elements of science and technology, logical thinking, numeracy skills and academic writing as well as expanding African studies and introducing fresh students to issues on gender and leadership.
Dr Kelly Askew, Director of the African Studies Centre of the University of Michigan, talked about other collaborative areas of the University and the University of Ghana and KNUST, which led to the production of 65 Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.