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French Embassy initiates signage project for forts, castles

BY: Shirley Asiedu-Addo & Edith Mensah
Anne Sophie Avé (2nd from right), unveiling a signage at the Cape Coast Castle. With her is Diallo Abdourahaman (3rd from left) and Kingsley Ntiamoah (2nd from left)
Anne Sophie Avé (2nd from right), unveiling a signage at the Cape Coast Castle. With her is Diallo Abdourahaman (3rd from left) and Kingsley Ntiamoah (2nd from left)

The French Embassy in Ghana has initiated the Sankofa FSPI project, which is aimed at providing signage and labels for each of the 28 forts and castles in the country.

The signage and labels, which include their French translation, would provide easy communication and education and increase visibility of the World Heritage sites as well as improve knowledge of the 1972 Convention.

As part of the project, 10 Asante traditional buildings would also be labelled.

The project is being implemented by the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB) and UNESCO working with key national stakeholders including the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ghana Culture Forum, the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Folklore Board and the National Commission on Culture.

Meanwhile, the project at the Cape Coast Castle has been completed.

Unveiling

At a brief ceremony to unveil a signage at the Cape Coast Castle as part of the Sankofa FSPI project, the French Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Anne Sophie Avé, said the action was vital to maintain Ghana's long and valuable history.

She said it would go a long way to revive residents' interest in their cultural heritage and improve upon existing knowledge.

The signage include wall mounted descriptive signs fixed at the castle, which describe, in a narrative form in English and in French, the site and its history, with a format in compliance with the prescriptions made by the World Heritage Committee.

Commitment

Ms Avé stated that her country was ready to commit to any action that had humanity and cultural elements at its core, and that her country would support it to the fullest extent possible.

"We would support everything that would help the history of humanity because such issues are deep and at our heart. We have understood the long valued history of Ghana and we believe value is not only about refurbishing, it is also to make Ghanaians proud of their heritage to enable them to sell it to the world," she stated.

UNESCO

A representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Diallo Abdourahaman, emphasised that the country's forts and castles, particularly those listed under the UNESCO world heritage sites, were strong evidence of human bonds and must be preserved for future generations.

He explained that refurbishing and bringing attention to the conservation of forts and castles, including those in ruins, had become necessary, because it not only boosted local tourism but also contributed to the preservation of Ghana's cultural heritage.

"This action also allows us to go further into Ghana's cultural values and narrate the story in a more sophisticated way. We feel that animations may be used to illustrate folkloric stories, and that some of these animations can even be developed by Ghanaian talent," Mr Abdourahaman said.

The Acting Executive Director of the GMMB, Mr Kingsley Ofosu Ntiamoah, thanked the embassy and UNESCO for the gesture.