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281 Chapter 12 Cultural Heritage in Ghana: A Vehicle for Sustainable Development? Richard Asante Introduction In the past few years, advocates of cultural heritage have underscored its merits and promise for development. Cultural heritage has been conceived of as a vehicle for innovation and change, particularly in developing economies (Peterson, Gavua and Rassool, 2015; Anquandah, 2015; Awedoba, 2002; World Bank, 2001; UNESCO, 2013; Asafo-Agyei, (2008); Ntibagirirwa, 2009). It is argued that as African countries attempt to build burgeoning economies and strong united societies in the twenty-first century, cultural heritage has a critical role to play in this regard and Ghana is not an exception. Ghana, like many other countries in Africa, is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society with a rich and a wide variety of heritage resources. Ghana is home to some historic monuments and sites inscribed on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The presence of these valuable heritage endowments opens up the country for major development opportunities. However, Ghana is yet to sufficiently tap into its cultural heritage resources for development. Although in recent years, there has been a growing recognition among policy makers and scholars of the importance of harnessing and utilizing the country’s rich cultural heritage for development, Ghana is facing major challenges regarding the management and conservation of its natural and cultural heritage resources and sites (Gavua, 2015; Asafo-Agyei, 2008; Ahiawodzi, 2013). The challenge is as a result of a combination of factors such as climate change, globalization, rapid migrations and urbanization. 282 Despite the importance of cultural heritage, there is a lack of consensus on the meaning of cultural heritage in different cultures. Furthermore, the debate on the nexus between cultural heritage and sustainable development remains highly controversial and inconclusive. Some critics contend that rather than being a vehicle, cultural heritage might be a barrier to development. These debates raise a number of fundamental questions such as: What cultural heritage is and why it has been posited as an important tool for development? In what ways can cultural heritage facilitate or impede development? What constitutes heritage in Ghana? How is cultural heritage being re-defined in the contemporary era of multiparty democracy and globalization in Ghana? How is Ghana using or harnessing its rich cultural heritage to promote development, particularly in an era of globalization? In what sense could it be said that cultural heritage has been and possibly continues to be a vehicle for innovation and change? The primary objective of this chapter is to examine the merits, tensions, and challenges for using cultural heritage to promote sustainable development in Ghana. It is argued that cultural heritage represents an important vehicle for promoting sustainable development but is yet to be mainstreamed into Ghana’s development agenda. Consequently, effective identification, utilization, and marketing of the appropriate cultural heritage resources backed by sound policies and programs have the potential to transform cultural heritage resources more as a vehicle rather than an impediment for development. The chapter is structured as follows: The introduction is followed by conceptualization of culture and heritage, and contestations surrounding them. The next section examines why cultural heritage has been posited by scholars, development activists, and donors as a potential vehicle for sustainable development. This is followed by an outline of what constitute cultural heritage in Ghana, and a critical analyses of the extent to which cultural heritage has been and possibly continues to be a vehicle for innovation and change, or a barrier to development in Ghana. The analyses focus on the contributions of tourism or cultural tourism to Ghana’s economy and that of chiefs, the paragons and custodians of Ghana’s cultural heritage, culture and 283 traditions to development. In what follows, the penultimate, I discuss some of the key institutions and initiatives that have been introduced by the government and others to harness our cultural heritage to stimulate development at the national and local levels. The final section presents the conclusion and the way forward. Defining Culture and Heritage As a concept, culture has been subjected to many definitions and interpretations. Tylor (1920) interprets culture as that complex whole which includes knowledge, morals, religion, customs and habits or any other capabilities acquired by man as a member of society. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2001, cited in UNESCO, 2009:1) defines culture “as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social...


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