Friday, March 18, 2016

Long Story Short

Artifacts displayed at the Ghana Armed Forces Museum
After our overnight stay in Kumasi, our group decided to wake up early in order to squeeze in a tour of the Ghana Armed Forces Museum before continuing on our journey to Tamale. We arrived at the museum and were led into a hall by a Ghanaian man who spoke limited English. He showed us the objects collected from World War One and World War Two with the help of our dear friend Francis translating for us. We assumed this man was our guide. After looking through most of the hall, the actual tour guide rushed into the hall and instructed us to gather back around the first few objects so that we could begin our tour. 
He began by saying "I will make a long story short" which is ironic seeing as we found ourselves still on the tour two hours later...we didn't mind this unexpected lengthy tour because of how incredibly passionate this man was about Ghanaian history.  It didn't take long for us to realize that he was not only a tour guide but also a storyteller and an actor. He creatively explained Ghanaian history in the form of a story while acting out the roles and voices of various characters. His performance was very impressive, the only problem was that he had a very strong accent and our group could not understand half of what he was saying. Even though our understanding was minimal, I think that we were all very entertained  and could appreciate this man's passion and enthusiasm for his work. After the tour, our group used the information booklet to fill in the blanks. 

Navy Room

We learned that the Ghana Armed forces museum was built by the British in 1897 and first served as a British colonial administration with offices and residences for troops. After World War Two it was used to train local junior officers know as the Boys Company. This museum is the only military museum in Ghana and it displays objects collected from the Germans in World War One and objects from the Italians and Japanese in World War Two. These objects included various types of guns, rifles, swords, bayonets, metals, and badges. The museum also has various other rooms with themes dedicated to Ghanaian history.

We also learned about the Ashanti people of Ghana and how they were a strong force in Ghanaian history. It is said that Ghana would not be as it is today if it were not for the Ashanti people because they were the only group strong enough to overthrow the Colonial government. Many members of our group wondered why the indigenous people of Canada were not able to do the same with the colonization  of Canada. We remembered that this was due to numbers. In Ghana, the Europeans were outnumbered by Ghanaian people explaining why the Ghanaian were able to rise up and fight the colonizers. In Canada, the colonizers overwhelmed the indigenous people, leading to illness and disease that decimated the indigenous population in addition to stripping them of their land and traditional ways of life making it impossible for Aboriginal people to regain their previous lifestyle.

Our tour guide mentioned that he is a "traditional man" and that he has chosen to live a traditional lifestyle in order to return to his roots and stay healthy. This resonated with many of us because during the process of completing our Aboriginal Health Modules, Eric Mitchell, the Okanagan Knowledge Keeper who taught us the Modules, mentioned that he and many other Aboriginal people in the community were trying to  return to their traditional lifestyle. Ghanaian history is similar to Canadian history in that both of our indigenous people were happy, healthy and self-reliant until colonization destroyed their culture.

We finished our tour by getting together with a large class of school children to take a photo.  They were eagerly looking to sneak in a "hello" at every glance during our tour. This made for a joyful way to end our tour of the Ghana Armed Forces Museum :)
-Stephanie Townsend. 


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