GHANA’S President Nàna Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo heralded plans to construct a state-of-the-art museum complex honouring the legacy of world-renowned black intellectual and civil rights pioneer Dr. W.E.B Du Bois as an important symbolic monument.
‘The museum will provide in Ghana, yet another important monument to the collective struggle of the African peoples to get their rightful place in this world,’ said President Akufo-Addo in his remarks prior to the signing of a historic partnership arrangement between the government of Ghana and the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation’s affiliate in Ghana. The signing took place in New York City where the US foundation is headquartered.
The agreement was signed on behalf of the government of Ghana by Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance, and Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. Signing for the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation were Japhet Aryiku, Executive Director of the foundation in the US, and Humphrey Ayim-Darke, Board Member of the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation, Ghana.
‘Mr. President, let me reassure you of our commitment to making your beloved Ghana a hub of Pan-African research and heritage tourism,’ said Daniel Rose, Chairman of the W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation, as he kicked off the ceremony. Rose is a philanthropist and leading real estate developer with deep ties to Ghana.
The Du Bois Memorial Centre in Accra where Dr. Du Bois and his wife, Shirley Graham Du Bois, are buried, opened to the public in 1985, but in recent years had required additional upkeep and maintenance. Two years ago, Rose and two board members of the foundation, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a professor at Harvard University and foremost scholar on Dr. Du Bois, and Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor at New York University whose father had worked with Dr. Du Bois, approached President Akufo-Addo about transforming the Du Bois Memorial Centre into a world-class living museum for scholars and heritage tourists.
The partnership arrangement will grant authority for the W.E.B Du Bois Museum Foundation to construct a multi-million dollar museum complex to preserve Dr. Du Bois’ legacy over a 50-year period. The complex will be designed by Sir David Adjaye, renowned Ghanaian architect and designer of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
The Foundation’s goal is to realise the Du Bois Museum’s full potential as an international treasure and historic memorial honouring one of the leading and most revered black voices in world history. The ambitious project features a museum, library and reading room, event hall, outdoor auditorium and amphitheatre, lecture space, guest house for visiting scholars and the refurbished bungalow where Dr. Du Bois lived and worked until his death. The complex also includes a Memorial Pavilion, housing the remains of Dr. Du Bois and the cremated ashes of his wife.
Dr. Du Bois, who was a confidant of Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah, became a citizen of Ghana and resided in the country until his death in 1963. While living in Ghana, Du Bois envisioned building a unified ancestral home for Africans in the diaspora around the world.
President Akufo-Addo has invited the Africans Diaspora to follow the footsteps of Du Bois by making Africa their home and contributing to the continent’s development through the government’s ‘Year of Return’ and ‘Beyond the Return’ campaigns.
‘The “Beyond the Year of Return” campaign promotes economic empowerment and encourages people in the Diaspora to come to Africa to invest, to live, and to do more to uplift the continent,’ said Japhet Aryiku, Executive Director, W.E.B. Du Bois Museum Foundation. Aryiku, a Ghanaian American with more than 40 years of experience in corporate America and the philanthropic community, was inspired at a young age by Du Bois’ writings and ideals.
Other speakers at the ceremony included Kwame Anthony Appiah, novelist and professor of philosophy and ethics, New York University and board member, W.E.B Du Bois Museum Foundation; and guests included Hon. Shirley Aryorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, H. E Hajia Alima Mahama, Ghana’s Ambassador to the USA, Akwasi Agyeman, CEO, Ghana Tourism Authority and Humphrey Ayim-Darke of the Du Bois Museum Foundation, Ghana.