How Ghana's heritage museum will reclaim Africa's history
In this series of letters from African authors, media consultant and trainer Joseph Warungu discusses plans to establish a massive museum in Ghana to honor African history and tradition.
A fresh wave of African migration is on its way. Among other populations, the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania, the Himba of Namibia, the Somali of the Horn of Africa, the Zulu of southern Africa, and the Mbenga of the West Congo Basin may soon be on the march to Ghana.
The greatest major mass migration of peoples inside Africa began more than 4,000 years ago when large populations of Bantu-speaking peoples left their ancestral homes in southern West Africa to migrate elsewhere on the continent.
Their move is cultural and spiritual rather than physical. It is their history, philosophy, values, and stories that are about to find a new home.
The new home is located in Winneba's Pomadze Hills. The 10-acre location in Ghana's Central Region is around 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of Accra. If all goes as planned, this land will be home to a stunning six-story museum - the Pan African Heritage Museum - by August of next year.
The area in Winneba where the "migrants" will enter their new home in Ghana is a little over an hour's drive from the Door of No Return at Cape Coast Castle, where millions of Africans were forced to flee the continent and into slavery.
The museum, which is currently under construction, has one main goal: to collect and present the story of Africa via the use of African voices, tools, and culture.
According to the brilliant brains behind the idea, this is required because the African tale has long been recounted by others.
They say that when someone else relates your narrative, they do it from their point of view in order to make themselves appear good.
As a result, the museum wants to capture the African story by bridging what the creators describe as a 400-year divide between individuals of African origin.
It's a museum that aims to educate, heal, and inspire visitors.
The museum will also attempt to heal the divide between individuals of African origin.
The museum, according to Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo, would "provide a natural residence and resting place for all the looted cultural artifacts of our continent, which are housed in foreign museums and which will be returned to us."
This is the continent's newest museum, following those in Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria, and it comes at a time when Europe is increasingly accepting that treasures plundered from Africa during the colonial era should be returned.
Works of art are visible upon entry produced by great artists of African descent.
The Nigerian artist Doba Afolabi's painting is displayed at the virtual launch. The painting depicts a musician passionately playing the saxophone.
According to the artist Aisha Tandiwe Bell, the woman in Tangled Trickster represents "our modern fragmented, hyphenated identities and multiple consciousnesses."
The man behind the idea
In 1994, the notion of a common African identity and history by harnessing, celebrating, and preserving African culture in a unique Pan-African museum arose.
Kojo Acquah Yankah, a former editor of Ghana's Daily Graphic newspaper and a cabinet minister in the late President Jerry Rawlings' government, is the guy behind it.
He describes how he was inspired while attending the 375th-anniversary commemoration of the forced landing of the first 20 Africans on the shore of Jamestown, Virginia, in the United States - the origin of American slavery.
According to him, "The event was attended by over 5,000 people of African descent from all over the world, celebrating their historical memoir," adding that "this inspired me to create the Pan African Heritage Museum to unite Africans and people of African descent and raise the self-confidence of Africans as a people with a rich history and heritage."
He details how there are less than 2,000 museums in Africa when compared to over 30,000 in Europe and the US.
"The museum is special because it's the only one bringing all African heritage together under one roof."
The museum's emblem is a horn, a communication instrument used to announce Africa's renaissance.
Akufo-Addo believes the $50m bill for the funding is worth it.
"It will not only benefit all the peoples of the world, but it will also imbibe in all of us a deep consciousness and understanding of the goals and ideal of Pan-Africanism."
Aside from artifacts and research materials, the museum will include a sculpture garden, a herbal garden, and space for Pan-African festivals, concerts, film screenings, and exhibitions.
After viewing the museum, young people will be able to build on fresh ideas for the future at the museum's innovation and creativity hub. The museum will set aside a two-acre tract to recreate a variety of historic and current African countries.
It will highlight their history, art, and culture, as well as learn from their talents, craftsmanship, and indigenous wisdom, which has maintained Africans until this day.
This is where the large influx of African "migrants" will settle. Yankah feels that his perspective can correct our erroneous history.
"Our legacy was stolen, and our confidence dimmed by paralyzing accounts of our past and even our present, hence we disregard the wise sayings and indigenous knowledge of our own people and quote eloquently from sources alien to us for our daily living."