Message by Ambassador Johanna Svanikier on the occasion of the UNESCO Celebration of World Day for African and Afro-descendant Culture
I wish to thank all the organisers of this program and especially UNESCO for giving me the platform to speak on this very important day, about the role of the Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation in ‘Bridging the Gap’. I would also like to express my enthusiasm and joy that the vision for the Celebration of World Day for African and Afro descendant Culture is finally coming to life. Here I will explore what ‘Bridging the Gap’ means at the HACSA Foundation.
There is a tremendous legacy in Ghana of heritage and culture to preserve, protect and celebrate. Rich tangible and intangible culture that has evolved over generations! History and monuments from the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism; history and monuments from the struggle for liberation and the victory of independence. These monuments are not our heritage alone but are also world heritage. The forts and castles associated with the transatlantic slave trade are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites but are they protected and managed as they should be?….and why aren’t the Independence Square or the Nkrumah Mausoleum world heritage sites? The resistance to slavery and colonialism, the independence struggle to end colonialism, the fight for freedom and justice for black people everywhere are important parts of world history that cannot be allowed to be brushed under the carpet and ignored or forgotten! The story of how Kwame Nkrumah led Africa and people of African descent to freedom and independence after centuries of exploitation, slavery and colonialism is part of world history and world heritage! Are we telling new generations that story and why is the Nkrumah Memorial Park in such poor condition? One of the most important gaps HACSA seeks to bridge is the information and knowledge gap. We have a duty to bring these historic sites to the attention of the world to ensure that the sites and their histories do not disappear.
But many will ask what about the future? One of the most important issues HACSA seeks to impact is the future of Africa. Our programming prioritises innovation and technology as well as women and the youth. Conversations I have had with people of African descent in the diaspora indicate that Afro-futurism is trending and some people prefer to put the trauma and anguish of the past behind them. Nkrumah himself was very much preoccupied with the future of Africa and provided Ghana with the institutions and structures on which to build a great future. Africa is racing ahead in the Fintech space but also has huge potential in other areas of technology. Our logo at HACSA and our ethos is Sankofa. You must learn from the past to progress in the future. At HACSA we hope to be in the forefront of building a brighter future for Africa and the diaspora. We hope to bridge the gap between the fantasy and aspirations of Afro-futurism and the tangible technological innovations and progress going on in Africa. We welcome partnerships and collaboration in this endeavour.
Another Gap we seek to bridge is the physical and geographic gap. How many people can afford to visit Ghana to connect with their heritage and celebrate the culture? Some of the risks associated with travelling to and in Ghana can be mitigated by strategic planning and organisation and others by technological innovation and digitisation and that is what HACSA does.To bridge these tangible gaps as well as the intangible and historic gap of a sense of alienation among people of African descent and people in Africa, HACSA organises regular meetings and Summits to bring together all people of African descent to discuss pertinent and relevant issues which allow us to understand each other, support each other, speak with one voice and benefit from aggregating our efforts towards a common cause of preserving, promoting and celebrating African Heritage and Culture. The annual HACSA Summit 2022 will take place this year in July as well as the HACSA Sankofa Experience and Heritage Tours. These events and our other activities regularly reunite Africans in the Diaspora with Africa.
We have also developed a programme of communication and education by creating digital content for public education which can be accessed on our website and other digital channels and hubs and experienced by everyone around the world. It includes Webinar Series, the HACSA Virtual Heritage Tours and the HACSA Heritage Documentaries, created with the assistance of the Embassy of France in Ghana and Google Arts and Culture. For more information, please visit our website www.thehacsa.org and social media @thehacsa and register for our latest news, information and updates.