Saturday, December 15, 2007
Is Pan-Africanism dead at DuBois
ask: DR. KWAME OSEI
THIS is a question I am posing because there are serious concerns particularly amongst those who frequent the Centre, that the study of African history there is being put under threat.
The DuBois Centre, opened in 1985 under the then PNDC administration, was named after the great Pan-Africanist WEB Dubois and its purpose was to be a centre for education, teaching, studying, research and preservation of African history of African history and culture.
The African Conscious Study Group (ACSG), an organization founded by eminent African historian, master and teacher Hamet Maulana, has been holding regular studies and presentations at the Centre since 1998. However, the records show that Maulana actually began holding African-centred study classes and lectures there in December 1991 when he received a fellowship research grant from the National Commission on Culture under the chairmanship of Dr. Mohammed Ben Abdallah.
The purpose of the ACSG is to teach the rich and diverse history and heritage of African people and their immense contribution to humanity. It also touches on subjects as diverse as economics, religion, astronomy and science. These presentations and seminars bring much needed educational material to the attention of local people as well as Africans from the Diaspora who on a visit to Ghana make it their mission to go the world famous DuBois Centre to learn more about their African culture and heritage.
It is also important to point out that the ACSG is the only organization of its type in the whole of West Africa since 1998 that has constantly and systematically been teaching African history and culture to such a degree. Moreover, since 1998 the ACSG has hosted such eminent international scholars including Professor Ali Masrui, Dr. Wade Nobles, of San Francisco State University, California, USA, the Reverend Al Sharpton, USA, late Dr. Asa Hilliard of the University of George, USA, Dr. Leonard Jefferies, Director African Studies, New York University and Dr. Runoko Rashidi, a renowned scholar and traveller.
Others are Ghanaian scholar and historian Dr. Branchie Darkwah, former Minister Michael Ocquaye, Dr. Vladimir Danso, Dean and Senior Lecturer, University of Ghana, Legon, late Dr. Ishkamusa Barashango, African-American Bible scholar and former Benin Ambassador to Ghana, Theophile Signor.
It is also interesting to note that the content of material that is taught by Dr. Maulana is not found anywhere on the Ghana curriculum from SSS level through to the graduate and post-graduate levels. This underscores the need for having these classes at DuBois Centre as this information is not readily available to the majority of Ghanaians.
Under previous managements, the ACSG had access to a seminar hall whereby it conducted very interactive and engaging presentations using the board, the overhead projector and other facilitations. However since November 2006, this study group has been denied access to these facilities without any notification to carry out its presentations and is now holding its lectures outside, on the compound.
This has at times caused immense difficulties and problems in the sense that presentations become difficult to enforce as there are not tools in which to carry them out. Secondly it poses a health risk to those who participate in the seminars because they are exposed to deadly mosquitoes and risk being infected with malaria.
This state of affairs is totally unacceptable and it leads one to ask why this is happening?
History and culture is something that should be cherished by the people of Ghana. In actual fact, in Europe and North America, millions of dollars including erecting monuments to influential people, are spent annually on the preservation and teaching of this history and culture.
So if it is good for the Americans and Europeans then why isn’t it good for the people of Ghana? Don’t we have a right just as any people in the world to be proud of our history and culture and to preserve it for future generations? Is not our history and culture worthy or of any significance?
This was the essence of establishing the DuBois Centre – the preservation of Ghanaian/African history and culture for future generations. Who has the authority to tell Ghanaians in their own country what they can and cannot learn? It is totally unacceptable that foreigners come into Ghana and begin to dictate to Ghanaians what is good and not good for them.
History and culture is the foundation for economic and high tech development. Ghanaians should not be denied the opportunity to learn more of their history and culture which will be a great loss to the country.
The writer is an
African Historian, writer and broadcaster.
The Ghanaian Times - Saturday, December 15, 2007 Page: 7