On June 8, 2021, UNESCO, the Ghana Museums and Monuments Boards (GMMB) and the Netherlands represented by the Ambassador of the Netherlands, HE Mr. Ron Strikker, inaugurated the Ussher Fort Slave Museum and Documentary Center in Accra, after two years of rehabilitation work. . Ussher Fort, formerly called Fort Crèvecœur, is one of the 28 components of the World Heritage serial property Forts and castles, Volta, Greater Accra, central and western regions inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. It is also on the Mutual Heritage List jointly established by the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB) and the Dutch Ministry of Conservation.
It has a rich history of being a trading post, slave dungeon, police station and prison. It was also used for military detention and served as a court martial unit and refugee camp for Liberians and South Sudanese in 2005. More recently it housed a slavery museum which was temporarily closed. in 2014.
“I would like people to remember that museums are more than places of exhibition and conservation of objects. They are key spaces for education, inspiration and dialogue. They play an essential role in the development of social cohesion and a sense of collective memory ”, said Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo, Head of Office and UNESCO Representative in Ghana,“ They also serve as key centers of education and training for young people.
Fort Ussher has long been in dire need of repair. With funding in the amount of USD 33,593 through the UNESCO / Netherlands Funds-in-Trust (NFiT), the rehabilitation and restoration of the fort structures have contributed to the creation of a safe museum, accessible and sustainable, which is an important contribution. to the interpretation and promotion of the Forts and Castles of Ghana. The project was developed to enhance the museum visitor experience, as well as to build the capacity of GMMB staff and selected community members from the towns of Ussher and James.
The Museum building before and after the rehabilitation works
Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana HE Mr. Ron Strikker, who recounted the infamous transatlantic slave trade, expressed hope that Ghanaians and Dutch would face this part of their history “squarely and” together. He said facing the past helps to tackle the future together, adding that “what we need to do is stand up for the values we share today, including respect for human rights and dignity. human and, on this basis, join forces to improve the future “.
Mr. Ivor Agyemang Duah, Acting Executive Director of GMMB, underlined the historical knowledge that the museum holds and the potential it represents for tourism, necessary for the development of the economy: “When people come here, they will know the history of this building. ; they will know the history of the people; they will know the history of the region and they will know the history of Ghanaians and Africans, ”he said.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has slowed work and forced museums to close globally, the museum’s inauguration comes at a time when most of the world’s museums and cultural sites are reopening. For Ghanaians, the reopening of the museum is a good way to discover and rediscover their history.
The inauguration of the museum in the presence of various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the Ghana National Commission for UNESCO and the local community, also coincides with the ongoing preparation of a plan management and conservation of Ghana’s forts and castles, which is funded by International Assistance under the World Heritage Fund, and has promoted the Year 2021 as the “Year of the African Union of the Arts. , culture and heritage: levers to build the Africa we want ”.