• Short Summary

    The first African museum to document the history of western Africa was opened on Saturday (January 5) at Cape Coast in Ghana.

  • Description

    The first African museum to document the history of western Africa was opened on Saturday (January 5) at Cape Coast in Ghana.

    Called the West African Historical Museum, it is housed in the four-hundred year old Cape Coast Castle, formerly a Swedish fort and later a centre of the slave trade.

    The site was chosen for practical reasons and for its symbolism of West African history from the early ages of mankind to modern independence from European colonial powers.

    The establishment of the museum began in 1968 with an agreement between the University College of Cape Coast and the Museum and Monuments Board of Ghana to jointly share responsibility for its organisation and financing.

    Expert advice, donations of artifacts and monetary grants were also received from many European and African countries.

    SYNOPSIS: First built in 1650 as a small home, the castle was later expanded into a fort by Swedish colonisers. With the decline of the gold industry it became a centre for the slave trade with deep dungeons to house Africans awaiting shipment to the Americas. Later it was the administration headquarters for the British colonial government. It was chosen not only for practical reasons but also its symbolism of four hundred years of African history.

    At the opening ceremony, the museum's first director, Mr. R. B. Nunoo, said he hoped the castle's future use would be more useful to Ghana than in the colonial past. He hoped it would eventually contain a complete history of all western Africa and would give Africans a knowledge and pride of their own culture.

    Beside the usual exhibits and artifacts the museum will also have research rooms, visual aids and a theatre for use by African students and foreign ministers.

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