A strong community involvement in managing heritage sites is paramount to its effective operation and maintenance, Professor Kodzo Gavua, Chairman of the Ghana Heritage Technical Committee, has stated.
He said it had become prudent over the years, for the Ghana Museum and Monument Board (GMMB) to actively engage the ordinary Ghanaians in decision making and get representatives to be part of its management team.
He said this at a stakeholders’ consultative meeting of the GMMB, to discuss key issues affecting Forts and Castles and to help draw a management plan for heritage sites.
Moderating the discussions, Professor Gavua who is also a Lecturer at the University of Ghana, said effective communication between the GMMB and its stakeholders, would help create value for Heritage Sites and establish in their minds the essence of safeguarding them.
He underscored the relevance of building a synergy with stakeholders and creating strategic alliances to get to all in reaching the ulterior goal of making tourism among the top income earners for the nation.
“It is no doubt that we need people to help us bring back the value we used to place on our heritage sites, but we should not forget that we need the right people who can help us cross the road, let’s get them on board through partnerships”.
Speaking on modernity as a challenge, he said it was important to conceptualize the nation’s values and morals and how Ghanaians would want to be identified.
“Let’s create our own heaven, our own world or nation and live it, let’s embrace who we are as Africans, we cannot change our history, our past our challenges or way of life, but we can only improve and better our lives so that we can be proud of showing our past and present prosperity,” Prof Gavua added.
He said consensus should be built to help raise standards for the Country’s heritage sites, “we must not be observers, we need to participate in ensuring the goal is achieved,” he stressed.
Ms. Natalyn Oye Addo, the site Manager for Forts and Castles of Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions’ World Heritage Sites, noted that a management plan that would guide processes and address challenges of heritage sites was being put in place.
The key issues of our national heritage sites she said, was the management structure, condition of forts and castles, encroachment, structural instability issues, resources and maintenance and adaptive reuse.
On community engagement, Ms Addo said, the GMMB was working on improving information on the history behind the Forts and Castles, and to make the information generally accessible to all, so that together we can all protect what was left for posterity.
“If the lay man understands the essence of these buildings, they would see the need to protect, own and help maintain them, we would undertake an intensified public education that would enlighten and broaden the minds of all,” she further stated.