President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said Africa must intensify efforts to retrieve all looted artifacts and cultural treasures housed in museums in countries that stole them from the continent.
He said those countries were making money out of the stolen treasures, for which reason they must be retrieved for the benefit of the people of Africa, adding: “Whatever the obstacles, we must get them back.”
President Akufo-Addo said this when he addressed the Fourth Ordinary Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Pan-African Parliament in Johannesburg, South Africa, last Monday. It was on the theme: “Year of arts, culture and heritage: Levers for building the Africa we want”.
The President said he had cut the sod for the construction of a Pan-African World Heritage Museum near Winneba in the Central Region to house artifacts and cultural objects from all parts of Pan-Africa.
He said when the museum eventually opened its doors to the world, it would be a major contributor to Africa’s ability to imbibe the deep consciousness of the ideals and goals of Pan-Africanism.
President Akufo-Addo said while Africans were proud of their history, culture and arts, they must also recognise the forces of change and modernisation that were knocking insistently on their doors.
He said modernisation was different from Westernisation, adding that experiences of the Asian Tigers had shown that nations could modernise in their own way — borrowing from outside while maintaining the essentials of their culture.
He cited the example of Japan, which he said though was a successful modern nation, was not Westernised.
According to President Akufo-Addo, Parliament played a critical role in exercising checks and balances on the Executive arm of government and also acting as the voice of the people.
He, therefore, said it would be of great benefit to the continent when the capacity of the people’s representatives were built to ensure accountability in all aspects of national life, especially governance.
Describing himself as a strong believer in the work of Parliament, the President said strengthening the August House would also enhance the prospects of continental integration.
On the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions, President Akufo-Addo said the pandemic had brought to the fore the need for Africa to hasten the process of regional and continental integration since acting together would boost its capacity to succeed.
“It is obvious that we need one another, and more so in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. We must encourage South Africa, Rwanda, Senegal, Ghana, and others to develop the capacity to produce our own vaccines,” he added.
He said with such a capacity, Africa could effectively deal with future pandemics and not depend on foreign supplies and benevolence for the protection of its peoples.