The acting Director of the National Folklore Board, Nana Adjoa Adobea Asante, says the board is prepared to seek compensation from companies and institutions that use folklore to promote their businesses.
She said the board, which was an independent governmental body charged with the responsibility of protecting and promoting Ghana’s folklore, would look out for companies that had used Ghana’s folklore outside the customary context and ensure that they make payments.
In an interview last Monday, Ms Asante said the board was to ensure that anyone who used folklore for commercial purposes such as using a Ghanaian proverb in a rap song or ‘Adinkra’ symbol as logo of companies must pay for it.
Ms Asante described folklore as ways in which culture was expressed, including singing, acting, eating, dressing, creating things, performing rights and celebrating festivals, which are everyday activities.
The acting director said the Adinkra symbols were codes of communication which signified strengths and weaknesses, and therefore, anyone using them as logos should compensate the owner of that folklore.
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“The move is not to deter anyone from using our folklore because it is a way of promoting Ghana’s folklore, but we have to ensure that there is a balance. You duly compensate the owners and contribute to the development of the nation,” she said.
She said the board had started a sensitisation programme to enlighten individuals and organisations on the use of folklore and the need to make the necessary compensations to the State.
She said the payments would be done in consultation with a law firm to ensure transparency and accountability.
“During our celebration of the World Folklore Day last month, we had a symposium on the role of folklore and intellectual property in branding Ghana and that is where the sensitisation began,” she said.
Ms Asante said UNESCO figures indicated that 29 million people were employed in the culture and creative arts industry worldwide.
However, only 1.98 per cent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was from culture, which showed that the country had not done enough.
She said the country’s folklore had potential; hence, the need to improve on it to drive economic growth.
“Culture is our way of life and that is the easiest way to make money. We will be able to work better if we love what we do, package it well and make it uniquely ours,” she said.
She urged Ghanaians to repackage the country’s indigenous products such as “Alata samina”, referred to as “African Black soap” so as to compete favourably on the global market to maximise profit.
Answering a question as to whether the board was certain that every folklore item was Ghanaian, Ms Asante said: “Sometimes there is contention that the ownership of folklore crosses certain borders, but the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation with a team of experts to adjudicate as to who owns which aspects of folklore, so till another country lays claims, it is yours” GNA