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11.01.2005 General News

Conservationist appeals for assistance to save historical house

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Cape Coast, Jan 11, GNA - A conservationist has appealed to stakeholders in the country's tourism sector to help the Ghana Heritage Conservation Trust (GHCT) save the house in which Mr John Mensah Sarbah, a renowned legal practitioner in the colonial era, lived at Cape Coast, from being pulled to the ground.

He was the first citizen of the then Gold Coast to qualify as a barrister, The house, which was built in the late 1800s, was restored in 2000 but is in disrepair and has been described by the building inspectorate unit of the municipal assembly as "dangerous for human habitation".

It has been earmarked for demolition but the GHCT, which is making efforts to source funds to restore the building, is against its demolition on grounds that when this is done, "the great heritage of the imminent son of Cape Coast would have been lost forever". Mr Nkunu Akyea, Executive Secretary of the GHCT who made the appeal at a news briefing at Cape Coast, said in the early 1990s USAID funded a ''natural resource conservation and historic preservation project'' during which the Cape Coast and Elmina castles and Fort Saint Jago in Elmina were restored.

The Kakum Forest Reserve was also created as part of the project to boost tourism.

He said Conservation International and US-ICOMOS, an international NGO, in collaboration with the GHCT, Ghana Museums and Monuments Board and other stakeholders with financial support from USAID, also restored 15 houses of historical importance in Cape Coast and Elmina.

He said Mr Mensah Sarbah's building was among those restored but expressed regret that due to lack of funds for its maintenance the building has deteriorated.

Mr Akyea said experts estimate that about 59 million cedis is needed to have Mr Sarbah's building alone, rehabilitated.

He underscored the need to preserve the country's historic and cultural heritage for socio-economic growth and urged all, especially the alumni of the Mensah Sarbah Hall of the University of Ghana, the Oguaaman Union and chiefs and 'asafo' companies to oppose the municipal assembly's plan to demolish the building.

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