Ghana: Youth Awareness Key to Cultural Conservation – Okraku-Mantey

The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr Mark Okraku-Mantey, has called for awareness creation and training for the youth in the process of conserving and enhancing cultural heritage for a sustainable tourism development.

He said the involvement of individuals in the creation of awareness would enable the heritage of humanity to be better preserved, improved living conditions and reduce poverty.

“Preserving cultural and natural heritage, to bring it within reach of all, making cultures and civilisations better known, improving daily living conditions and reducing poverty, is what gives meaning to the sustainability of tourism development,” he added.

The minister disclosed this during the opening of this year’s World Folklore Day in Accra yesterday.

Under the theme “Igniting the Interest of African Youth in Folklore for Sustainable Development”, it is aimed to ignite the youth to better understand the essence of folklore in developing a sustainable economy.

This year’s commemoration saw participations from Kenya, Togo, Namibia, The Gambia and Togo.

Folklore or intangible culture heritage refers to ways of expressing one’s culture, including music, dance, art, designs, names, symbols and signs, performances, ceremonies, architectural forms, handicrafts and narratives, languages or any artistic cultural expressions.

Mr Okraku-Mantey said the ministry, in partnership with the National Folklore Board and other cultural agencies was working hard to develop and implement tourism policies and activities that involve the participation of communities, particularly the youth in the preservation and enhancement of the Ghanaian cultural heritage in the long term.

The initiative, he said would create a strong relationship between tourism and culture to help Ghana become a competitive and attractive place to live, visit and make business investment to drive sustainability and development.

“Let us bear in mind that a flourishing cultural economy has the potential of improving the social and economic status of a country as well as positively contribute to the life of our communities,” he stated.

The Executive Director of National Folklore Board, Madam Bernice Ann-Deh Kumah, said sustainable development was an important subject matter in African countries and as a result every factor that contributed to it or promote it must be carefully considered whether tangible or intangible cultural heritage, adding “nothing should be left out.”

She said the National Folklore Board was taking the necessary steps to compile a national register of intangible cultural heritage and further follow the procedure to list it on world heritage register to attract tourists visit into the country.

“In this regard, we need to collaborate with our neighboring African countries to enable us enlist on world heritage register, since some intangible cultural heritage are similar in most African countries,” she added.

Professor Kodzo Gavua, Lecturer, University of Ghana- Archealogy Department for his part said it was imperative on Africans to redefine themselves in ways that would give the edge over their counterparts, adding “And for this to be achieved, the youth must search, study and learn for African ways of life, especially folklore.”

He said in recent times, Africans tended to accept whatever was introduced to them without screening and this had led to lack of confidence and misunderstanding of values.

“Once we begin to appreciate what we have we will be in a position to ensure we have our self-dignity and satisfaction. Studying folklore will also inspire us to think logically and bring us back to understand ourselves,” Prof. Gavua added.

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