The Ghana Heritage and Conservation Trust (GHCT) has appealed to Ghanaians to make concerted efforts to conserve and protect the country’s cultural, natural, and historic heritage to maintain its identity and promote sustainable development.
It said the various historic monuments and natural sites were not only economically valuable but also signalled the resilience of Ghanaians through the struggles of their ancestors and inspired optimism for the future.
Mr Isadore Armah, the Executive Director of GHCT, noted some heritage sites had gone extinct while some existing ones were diminishing in value owing threats such as climate change and uncontrolled development, hence the need for urgent action.
“Our Africa heritage is a treasure that must be passed down to future generations and it is for all of us to ensure that we leave a good legacy for generations to benefit.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that our heritage sites and cultural traditions are protected and preserved for the benefit of all,” he said.
Mr Armah was speaking at a symposium held by the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB) in Cape Coast to mark the African World Heritage Day.
The day institute in 2015, is celebrated across Africa annually on May 05 to appreciate the continent’s unique and rich cultural and natural heritage and promote their sustainability.
Held on the theme: “African Natural and Cultural Heritage beyond Borders,” the GMMB also unveiled quotes and pictures of some African freedom fighters sited at various points within the Cape Coast Castle where the event took place.
The symposium assembled students from selected second cycle and basic schools including Oguaa Senior High and Technical School, Philip Quaque Boys, Philip Quaque Girls, and Jacob Wilson Sey M/A Basic School.
The day was eventually crowned with a tour of the dungeons of the Castle. Mr Armah indicated that while Africa was underrepresented on the World Heritage list with just 12 per cent, about 39 per cent of the listed facilities were endangered.
“Many of Africa’s world wonders risk losing their universal value as a result of contemporary threats such as climate change, uncontrolled development, poaching, civil unrest and instability,” he warned.
In Ghana, he said despite efforts by the Trust and its allied agencies to save the country’s legacy, they were hindered by numerous obstacles such as inadequate funding and resources, insufficient governance systems and a lack of political will.
“Once we all put together a coordinated effort and we get the right financial support, we can maintain and ensure all of these monuments are restored,” he said.
The GHCT Executive Director also highlighted the devasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on heritage sites, noting that many suffered significant damage and deterioration due to decreased tourism and the closure of cultural institution.
As a conservation measure, Mr Armah said there was the need to educate and raise awareness among citizens about the significance of the country’s heritage.
“Educational activities, cultural events and heritage tourism are all capable of helping achieve the objective,” he explained.
He also called for the establishment of international corporations and partnerships with other African countries to safeguard one another’s cultural heritage.
“We need to improve heritage site management conservation which include creating and implementing effective conservation programmes and monitoring and evaluating the state of our sites to ensure they are adequately maintained,” he added.
Mr Clifford Eshun, the Central Regional Director of GMMB, later told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that they needed more funding to keep the castles and forts in their acceptable state.
He indicated it was expensive and difficult to get original materials to replace damaged parts of the facilities, stressing that it required a lot of money and research.
He, however, stressed the Board’s commitment to manage and maintain the facilities under their care in the best possible way to engender the maximum benefit.