As with Muslims and the Kaaba, or Jerusalem to Jews, the exquisite Pan-African Heritage Museum is rapidly showing promise of becoming the pilgrimage destination for people of African descent all over the world.
Located in the Central Region of the West African state, Ghana, the Museum has drawn the patronage and support of scores of people, including organizations such as the African Union and the Association of African American Museums. Notable personalities like Ghana’s President H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo, UNESCO Representative, Ghana, and Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of NAACP have endorsed the project even before it officially opens.
With the goal to curate and tell the story of Africa using African voices, tools and culture, the museum is reminiscent of the ancient libraries of Timbuktu and Al- Qarawiyyin in Fez.
Featured as one of the 10 Megaprojects which will reshape the African continent, the $50 million edifice is expected to be completed in 2024, and has become the first museum to have a digital version opened to the public before its physical structure is commissioned.
“This is the first time a museum is going to house the original history, arts and culture of people of African descent. This is one place that is going to restore the self-confidence of people of African descent throughout the world” says the Executive Chairman of the Museum Professor Kojo Yankah. A former member of parliament and minister of state of Ghana, Prof. Yankah gestated the concept of founding the Pan-African Heritage Museum and has led the process of its realization.
To understand the role that the iconic historical institution plays in advancing the Pan-African cultural legacy, Face2Face Africa spoke to Professor Yankah as transcribed below:
Q: Why should the Pan African Heritage Museum matter to all people of African Descent?
A: This is the first time a museum is going to house the original history, arts and culture of people of African descent. This is one place that is going to restore the self-confidence of people of African descent throughout the world.
Q: Does the PAHM fit the description by some as the “Mecca” for Black Diasporans?
A: Yes, all people of African descent need a place or location where they would go periodically to be educated about their heritage, find healing and be inspired.
Q: Tell me about the deep cultural and spiritual significance of Diasporan Africans making a pilgrimage to the PAHM.
A: Historical circumstances and deliberate manipulations have divided people of African descent and sometimes made them enemies of each other. Miseducation did not take place only in Africa but also in the diaspora. In making the pilgrimage, Africans would learn and be inspired by the rich cultural and spiritual bond that extends through their common heritage.
Q: What has been the feedback from notable figures like the ex-President of Botswana, H.E Seretse Khama Ian Khama, His Royal Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, and Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, former UN Secretary General’s Representative in West Africa and SAHEL?
A: These are patrons who share and support the grand vision and mission of the Pan African Heritage Museum. They love the museum and are happy that this initiative has taken off. In fact, they are helping to raise funds for the physical construction of the museum.
Q: What is your personal vision of what the museum should accomplish both in your lifetime and beyond?
A: The museum is a legacy for the youth of the world, particularly those of African descent who have been denied knowledge of their own history and heritage. The museum will transform minds and hearts to create a better equitable world.
Q: In your publication “Why is Africa considered the cradle of civilization?” You stated that “The story of Africa has been told the wrong way. And such beliefs have led many on a path of negativity towards anything African.” Do you think this miseducation can be corrected from where you sit…and how urgent should that happen?
A: It has taken over 400 years to brainwash the people; I know it will take time; but with the speed of digital education, we will get there faster.
Q: What informs the choice of Ghana as the destination for PAHM?
A: Ghana is known throughout the world as the beacon of the liberation of the African mind. Kwame Nkrumah left us that legacy upon which we are building.
Q: Tell me about the significance of the PAMH logo, what it stands for in African culture?
A: All over Africa, the horn is a communication symbol; it is announcing the arrival of news: the rebirth of African civilization.
Q: What is PAHM’s role in the government’s agenda of Beyond the Return…describe the government’s reception of the project?
A: The fact that the President of Ghana performed the launch of the Museum project itself and also cut the sod to declare the site open for construction signifies very strongly Government’s support for the project. In fact, the President has emphasized that the Museum is a very important
pillar in the Government’s Beyond the Return Agenda.
Q: PAHM is a huge project, what are the main sources of funding for the project and do you think it can be executed as planned?
A: Yes, this is a $50m project. While fundraising for donations goes on throughout the world, we are also raising commercial loans to meet completion date of December 2024.
Q: Have any notable people of African descent visited lately…. are there some upcoming events that you’d want to share with us?
A: All visitors are going to the digital museum found on our website www.pahmuseum.org. We also held a joint conference with UNESCO and Association of African Universities from (August 30 to September 2, 2022) on Restitution and Education; and major works on the physical site are going on in September.