By Issabella, RoamGhana
Presidential libraries play critical roles in the life of every nation. Firstly, they give deeper understanding into the lives, backgrounds and reign of these past presidents and also serve as good reference points of governance as well as spring boards for research into various aspects of society.
The United States of America (USA) has fourteen (14) presidential libraries beginning with that built for the 31st president Herbert Hoover and continued with others for Franklin Roosevelt Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and, more recently, for Barack Obama and, for sure, there will be a Trump library one day. It might be easy to argue that USA is a developed country but such thinking is neutralized by the fact that Africa currently has two, namely the Olesugun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Nigeria and the Thabo-Mbeki Presidential Library in South Africa.
Ghana has also made a bold attempt at constructing a presidential library. Commissioned by then President H.E John Mahama in 2016, The Atta Mills presidential library situated opposite the Cape Coast Castle is known to have a 100 capacity auditorium, 45-seater state –of- the -art multi media centre, seminar rooms and a museum that holds historical materials that reflect the life and works of the late President Mills. It also has spaces for a restaurant and an open-air area for exhibitions and recreation. Its strategic location near the Cape Coast Castle and at the heart of the town’s Central Business District make the Library a potentially useful addition to the country’s tourism stock.
While the benefits to be derived from operating the library are clear, the reasons for its continued closure are not as obvious. It is quite mind-boggling why this beautiful edifice which to all intents and purposes is ready for operation is yet to be opened to the general public. The little we have gathered from the media point to a range of reasons including non-payment of monies due the contractor as well as a few minor constructional issues. Whatever the reason may be the continued closure of the facility is not acceptable.
The RoamGhana office in Cape Coast is always inundated with requests from tourists asking about what activities are available for them in the town after having toured the Castle. In all honesty, we struggle to offer information owing to the limited number of options. Making the presidential library functional will create a welcome addition to the tourism offerings of both the town and the country.
Our understanding is that the facility is privately owned and will be handed over to the University of Cape Coast upon completion. We urge the Hon. Minister for Tourism Arts and Culture to explore ways in which the owners of the facility can be engaged to solve the impasse. For a country with such limited attraction base, Ghana cannot afford to allow this important building to go waste. A stitch in time.. they say….. !!