March 13, 2007

British High Commissioner says Africa is not doing enough to retrieve cultural objects

Posted at 5:33 pm in Similar cases

The British High commissioner to South Africa, Paul Boateng, says that bureaucracy & corruption are hindering any attempts for Africa to retrieve it cultural heritage from the west.

All Africa

Africa: Paul Boateng Blames Kufuor & Co
Public Agenda (Accra)
March 12, 2007
Posted to the web March 12, 2007
Selorm Amevor

The British High Commissioner to South Africa, Hon. Paul Boateng has accused African leaders of failing to retrieve the cultural objects and artifacts that have been stolen from the continent.

He said the history of Africa is being threatened by the neglect of artifacts and archives that have been stolen from the continent.

He therefore urged African leaders to ratify the UNESCO convention of 1970 which prohibits and prevents the illicit importation, exportation and transfer of ownership of cultural property and artifacts.

He revealed that the continent loses a whooping $4.5 billion a year through the stealing and forceful removal of its cultural objects and artifacts.

This, he said, accounts for 10 per cent of illegal trade that goes on in conflict areas and urged African leaders to take advantage of the UNESCO convention and enforce the retrieval all of the stolen items that are currently lying in the museums of countries that have little or no idea about them.

Boateng pointed out that the greatest gift African leaders could ever give to the new generation would be to sign and rectify the UNESCO convention to enable them to retrieve many of the stolen cultural objects and artifacts from the west.

Boateng was speaking at a lecture organized by the University of Ghana in commemoration of the country’s Golden Jubilee anniversary on the theme “Reclaiming the Ground-Why Promoting Africa’s History and Safeguarding its Artifacts and Archives in the Modern Age is Central to the African Renaissance.”

According to Boateng the ordinary African has the right to know about his/her history and culture since this will go a long way bring them closer to the continent.

He therefore called on African leaders to establish museums to protect historical records and artifacts instead of always depending on what has been kept by people who have little knowledge about the real history of the African.

He urged governments to establish community museums, where the artifacts should be kept for the purpose of attracting tourists with the attendant economic gains

In his view, such initiatives in the communities will inculcate in the people a sense of pride, which will make it easier to get factual and accurate historical records from as is the case in Tanzania.

He blamed excessive bureaucracy and political instability costing the continent its rich cultural objects and artifacts.

He said that the British government as a way of ensuring peace and stability between many countries has established the British museum where people from all walks of lives come and learn and engage in debate on the history of their countries and continent.

He said Ghana and Africa at large have rich history that must be told well so that the future generations will be proud to be Africans.

This he said will enable African youth to learn more about their culture and not that of the western world which is slowly washing away the rich culture of African.

Boateng, whose father is a Ghanaian urged the youth in the country to start preserving the culture of Ghana by using modern day technology to their advantage.

He also called on the older ones to as a matter of pride share the rich Ghanaian culture with the youth since the preservation of culture is a sound strategy and not only a matter of sentiments.

Hon. Boateng said that as the nation celebrates its Golden jubilee anniversary all necessary documents about the heroes that fought for the freedom of the nation should be preserved so as to inspire future generations.

The lecture was attended by the Chairman of the Council of State, Professor Adjei Bekoe, Prof. Ivan Addae Mensah, Past Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Mr. Gordon Weddle, British High Commissioner to Ghana, Ms. Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines and other high profiled dignitaries.

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