Museum of Nzema Culture and History – Fort Apollonia (2010)
The “Fort Apollonia Museum of the Nzema culture and history” is housed in the ancient Fort Apollonia, founded by the British between 1765 and 1771 located at Beyin in the Jomoro District. Fort Apollonia was the last fort to have been built along the Gold Coast. After many years of neglect the fort has been restored with funds of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is now the home of an eco-museum dedicated to Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana and the most important figure to come from the Nzema area.
The objective of the Museum of Nzema Culture and History are:
- to represent a cultural, historical and symbolic reference for the identity of the local population and the preservation of its culture and language, in order to provide to future generations the means for empowerment of their culture;
- to promote the knowledge and the safeguarding of the territory and develop a better awareness within the community of its strategic importance, through a network of eco-touristic trails within the Amanzule wetlands and specific environmental educational programs;
- to be a place where scholars of the Italian Ethnological Mission to Ghana (IEMG), who have since 1954 been carrying out their ethnographic and historical research on the Nzema culture, can now share with the Nzema society the results of their studies and the outcome of their encounters with the local people.
The eco-museum, whose concept was developed by the French George Henri Rivière and Hugues de Varine, is a dynamic way for local people to preserve, interpret, and manage their heritage by constantly communicating with the territory they live in.
Fort Apollonia eco-museum and resource centre, being the first of its type in Ghana, offers to visitors what Nzema chiefs, students, artisans, drummers and dancers, researchers are putting together to represent what they are and what they do. It tells the histories inherited from past generations and picture the present to bestow for the benefit of future generations.
Exhibits invites visitors to learn about the Nzema heritage by interacting with contents, topics, and the interpretation of them in a combination of texts reading, objects touching, smelling and hearing. Among them is a display of emblems of the various clans, traditional festival, traditional treatments of disease, Amansuri eco-system and different shades of traditional talking drums.
The Fort intends not only to display heritage, but also to serve as a conservation education centre for educational activities, arts and crafts production, temporary exhibitions, art performances etc. A variety of educational activities are organised in the museum resource centre. They include workshops for viewing and creating art and for playing with shapes as well as programs in which adults can participate along with their children. Through these programs, the museum transcends its role as a place for experiencing artworks, traditional dressing/hair styles, games, drumming/dancing, traditional medicine, and becomes a place for free self-expression and exchange with other participants.
The eco-museum in Fort Apollonia was executed with local artisans using local materials and symbols to enable it be in harmony with the Amansuri environment.
The project was implemented by the Italian NGO COSPE (Cooperation for the Development of Emerging Countries), in collaboration with the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, Ghana Wildlife Society, Centre for National Culture, Ghana Tourist Board, Western and Eastern Nzema Traditional Councils, Jomoro and Ellembele District Assemblies and SNV (Netherlands Development Organisation
Opening hours are between 8.30 am and 5.00pm daily.