The Relevance of our Regional Center for National Culture in the Development of Art, Culture, and Tourism industry in Dagbon

By Ibrahim Nayi, (Research fellow & IPR management consultant)

Dagbon kingdom is one of the oldest in Ghana and is blessed with a rich historical background, endowed with numerous potentials in traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions, and folklore.

These potentials such as stories, tales, riddles, poetry, musical expressions, such as songs, instrumental music, dances, plays, paintings, drawings, carvings, textile design among others, have been relegated and not properly identified, documented, preserved, and protected without being lost to posterity. These cultural assets are getting diluted and extinction.

We are confronted with these challenges because the kingdom lacks a well developed and spacious modern edifice as our culture center with a traditional museum to take custody of our valuable cultural assets.

Our current Regional Center for National Culture is abandoned and no development or rehabilitation is seen over the last many decades thereby resulting in the facility not been able to function effectively and efficiently to serve the purpose upon which it was created.

The region has not considered this facility as much important and potential reservoir for the preservation of our traditional cultural expressions and folklore. The entire building has deteriorated to the extent that most activities related to the cultural exhibition and other important ceremonies do not longer take place there due to its current bad state which consequently affects it’s internally generated fund.

The neglect of this facility has brought about its misuse by key politicians, stakeholders, and influential individuals who are comfortable squatting at the facility, using it for their private businesses for several decades, and are unwilling to vacate for the institution to claim its full ownership and independence.

Many private individuals who are also squatting in and within the facility are not willing to honor their rent obligations to enable the institution to raise funds to maintain the facility. It is obvious that successive Governments in the fourth republic have done nothing to ensure that the proper state of this valuable national asset is maintained and properly utilize.

It is also important to add that the dagbon traditional council as key stakeholders has not considered this facility as part of their priority and therefore no effort has been made to put the facility in good shape for the past four odd decades. Another remarkable area of importance which thought through for long is our inability to exploit our historical sites for tourist purposes.

It is important that the king of Dagbon ( Ya Na ) and his subjects take interest in our cultural institutions so as to assist in developing these potential tourist areas which have not been tapped for a potential source of revenue to the kingdom. This can be done through conducting feasibility studies into these potential tourist sites and taking custody for its development and utilization to attract both local and foreign tourists.

This initiative if properly initiated and implemented through collaboration between the Center for National Culture, the Regional House of Chiefs, and other social groupings (Dagbon Forum, Dagbon Kurli, Dagbon Malima, etc) within dagbon kingdom will contribute greatly in developing and transforming our cultural and traditional assets. We as dagbamba should not continue to pay lip service and allow these potentials and opportunity to go down the drill before we begin to realize it’s importance.

I wish to stress that dagbon at the moment cannot boast of a well established and known tourist site since the creation of the new regions has brought about the loss of Mole National Part, the Salaga slaves site, Laribanga sacred mosque, and the mighty stone to the Savannah region.

It is undeniable fact that these areas were major sources of our internal generated fund (IGF). The youth as drivers of local development must push and lobby through opinion leaders, politicians, and our chiefs to accept and embrace these initiatives. We must assure them of our full support and cooperation in this proposed initiative. We must begin to think of reorganizing and rebranding our cultural festivals and also take a critical look at the following potential tourist sites; Adiboo, Cherizong zole, Yeni Dabari, Nyemandu, Namburigu, Bagliga, and many others.

These are potential areas worth discovering and developing for our tourist needs as a region to be able to attract tourists both within and without, thereby creating an additional income stream for our endogenous development. We must keep pressing and reminding our chiefs to take up this issue seriously through the relevant authorities such as the Center for National Culture and other potential allies.

The rehabilitation of our cultural center should be considered critical for our cultural preservation, maintenance, and protection. If we cannot afford to build a museum to keep all our traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions, and folklore, why allow the existing facility which could play a similar function to deteriorate.

I entreat the regional coordinating council, stakeholders, opinion leaders, corporate institutions with interest in culture, and the regional house of chiefs to consider this proposed initiative as their priority so as to bring back the value of our tradition and culture from its lost glory.

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