Ghanaian history and art rediscovered: The need for national pride.

oil painting on exhibition
oil painting on exhibition

I have always been a huge admirer art, history, literature, music – you get the picture. So last Monday I decided to visit the National Museum of Ghana in Accra, Ghana. I went there because I was bored and I needed inspiration. I find it creatively refreshing to be in a different environment or to be surrounded by inspiring people or articles. The National Museum has been around for as long as Ghana has been independent, yet being a Ghanaian living in Ghana all my life, I have never heard much about it. The Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum is far more popular than this is. I cannot explain why that is but I can speculate. Are Ghanaian selectively interested in just some aspects of their culture and history and not the whole? Well, that is not the focus of my post.
Scope of Gallery
There was so much history and art on not just Ghana, but the whole world on display! I was absolutely shocked circling the artefacts in the galleries. I found mosaic from Carthage, Ife Bronze statues from Nigeria, Actual human remains from archaeological digs in Ghana, terra-cotta figurines, ritual dolls, contemporary art pieces, hand carved masks from La Cote D’Ivoire, etc. I did not know how to react to it.
When I got there, I thought it was closed. The place was dead quiet. I spent about two hours and all I could kept on hearing was the occasional chatter of the employees. No one else came in and from the looks of things, it did not seem like the museum is heavily patronized. However, that did not deter me from enjoy the art and learning my history. I was sad not to know a lot about the history of Ghana, despite having studied history of Africa and Ghana at a point in time in my life. There is just so much out there, that is ours and we should be proud of.

Fertility dolls from the Ashanti Of Ghana
Fertility dolls from the Ashanti Of Ghana

National Pride.
I used to be one of the people who did not see the importance of history. Well, I would kindly like to educate you should you fall in this group. History instills in the people a sense of national pride. Pause! This is not theoretical but very practical. Let’s consider the United States of America. I don’t think anyone is ignorant of the sense of pride Americans derive from being American. This is all because of how they have celebrated their history, making every citizen respects that history and want be a part of the history.
Now why can’t Ghanaians adopt that? We have successfully imitated their eating and dressing habits but why can’t we learn to be proud of our history just as they are? Please, let’s take interest in our history and culture, so we can be inspired and motivated by it.

Ghanaian currency from the past
Ghanaian currency from the past
Ghanaian currency from the past.
Ghanaian currency from the past.

Contemporary Art.
I managed to chance upon an art exhibition by contemporary Ghanaian artist. The collection consisted of paintings by Ablade Glover, Amon Kotei, Kobina Bucknor and other prominent Ghanaian artist. I honestly do not know what to say about this. My pictures may be able to describe the richness of the art but certainly not the experience. Art is life and the exhibition confirmed Ghanaians are marvelous at art.

Should you happen to be in Accra, try to visit the museum. You might learn something you never knew. Please be proud of your history!

 

 

<Written by Hakeem Adam
Photography by Hakeem Adam/>.

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4 thoughts on “Ghanaian history and art rediscovered: The need for national pride.

  1. Interesting. Never been to the place before.

    Quite recently, Kwabena Agyare (young poet and literary enthusiast) posted a link to an article about National Pride (bookmarked it but I lost my phone. I should do well to find the URL to that article and share it).

    On a side note he’s drawn my attention to the theme of memory by considering history…

    Anyway, surely there are several ways to inspire national pride. I think the bridge to our past is somewhat broken, and needs fixing hence this post.
    And a better approach could be by creating our own memories in the present with hints of our history.
    To experience the present by celebrating it through ‘contemporary’ art, which Accra Dot Alt and others are possibly doing.

    But if we don’t respect what art is, in Ghana, if we fail to the realize the significance of art then the journey to national pride may be a rather difficult one.

    First off, art ‘is not’ hobby. Let’s…*scratch that*
    We’re already dealing with that though…by re-defining what art is, in the minds of the people. . .
    Yes, we are.

    Time will tell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, i agree with you. there needs to be change in our mindsets of what art is and how useful or necessary it is to our lives, not just as an individual but also as a society. The idea of fusing memories with history – recreating it – is another perfect example of how the art and history can combine effectively.
      I think you should try and take on a project like that. I recently read this book: Chaka by Thomas Mofolo on the legendary Chakak the Zulu. I is an amazing work of fiction that relies on historical tales and myths to educate and unintentionally, instill national pride.

      Like

  2. During my time at University of Ghana, the Archaeology Dept was one of my favourite spots to hang out. Their museum had some awesome works. Thing is, we, as a collective haven’t averted our minds to the power the arts world holds to unlocking the future.
    Good to note, some works are being brought to the fore. Good post

    Liked by 1 person

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