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01.06.2004 Regional News

Edumadze urges local involvement in protection of historical monuments

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Elmina, June 1, GNA - The Central Regional Minister Mr Isaac Edumadze, on Monday observed, that the legal framework for the protection and conservation of the nations forts and castles, cannot be effectively enforced, if local decision-makers such as traditional rulers and assembly members were not actively involved.

He charged all stakeholders, particularly officials of the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the National Commission on Culture (NCC), to involve the local leaders in all sectors of the implementation of the 'Mutual Cultural Heritage' of Ghana and the Netherlands.

Mr Edumadze, made the observation in a speech read for him at a durbar of chiefs from the Central and Western regions to mark the signing of an agreement, on a joint policy framework for the sustainable preservation of the 'Mutual Cultural Heritage' of the two countries, at Elmina.

The agreement, which was signed by Professor George Hagan, Chairman of the NCC, for Ghana, and Mr Atzo Nicolai, Dutch Minister for European Affairs for the Netherlands.

The implementation of the framework, which also forms part of the 'Elmina 2015 Development Strategy', and would among other things, involve exchange of cultural programmes, is slated to take off immediately.

Mr Edumadze, however, also pointed out that the good intentions for the programme could not be realised if local decision-makers did not cooperate with the policy framers, adding, "You need to appreciate what is being done today and create a sense of ownership for it".

Mr Edumadze underscored the important role tourism played in the development of the region and tasked the beneficiary communities to play a key role in awareness creation, planning, implementation and evaluation of the mutual heritage project to ensure its success. For his part, Mr Nicolai, appreciated the long standing relationship and historical ties between the two countries, adding that the signing of the policy, would further cement the relationship, as well as "link up the past to the future", taking all historical, socio- economic and cultural aspects into consideration.

He said the phase two of the 'Elmina 2015 development strategy', which was being sponsored by the Netherlands, would involve the restoration of the 'Nana Etsapia Memorial Building' and a chapel, as well as the Dutch Cemetery and other buildings put up by the Dutch. Professor Hagan, noted that the "Dutch bloodlines have not been lost" in Ghana, particularly in Elmina, where there were still Dutch houses and artefacts to show.

He stressed that the policy should help promote human development and ensure peace and unity, adding that the two counties had embarked upon an important journey in their history and everything should be done to ensure its fruition.

Nana Kodwo Condua VI, Omanhene of Edina Traditional Area said the signing of the policy signified a reconciliation to move the two nations to the future and also preserve their cultural heritage. He, however, expressed concern that communities where historical monuments such as castles and forts were sited did not benefit from the proceeds accrued.

He said for instance in the year 2000, about 300,000 foreign tourists visited the Elmina Castle alone, but all the monies made went direct into government coffers and urged the government to help rectify the situation.

Nana Kwabena Nketsia V, Chairman of the Ghana Museum and Monuments Board (GMMB), who presided, commended the Dutch government for their support and pledged that the GMMB would ensure the success of the project.

Mr Nicolai, who was accompanied by Mr Jan Hoekeman, Dutch Ambassador for International Cultural Cooperation, had earlier visited Fort Amsterdam at Abandze and the Elmina Castle

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