NYU professor pursues initiative to make Kumawu a heritage tourism hub in Ghana

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A New York University (NYU) professor of economics of Ghanaian origin, is embarking on several ventures to position Kumawu in the Ashanti Region of Ghana as a heritage tourism hub.

This is in addition to a myriad of projects and programmes that have been spearheaded by him for years now to bring improvements in the quality of life of the people of the area while opening up the town to more investment opportunities.

An indigene of the area, Professor Yaw Nyarko who is Director of NYU’s African House told VoyagesAfriq in an interview that, his quest to open the place up for tourism activities is due to the rich history of the land and its people.

He said, having moved to Kumawu a few years ago for research, he discovered the unique culture of the place and decided that more needed to be done to shed light on it and its socio-cultural significance.

“I decided years ago that I am going to move from the attitude of staying in New York, or Abu Dhabi or staying in Accra to do research about people who live somewhere else. So it was my view that I need to move into the community where the people live, so I moved to Kumawu.

“And then, once I moved to Kumawu and I started meeting the people, that’s the impetus, the origin and I began to see the culture, fell in love with it, realized how rich it is and how quiet it is in terms of nobody talks about it, but it is an amazing culture that we have and we need to celebrate that,” the Director of NYU’s Center for Technology and Economic Development (CTED) posited.

Already, the professor and his team have started a conversation around arts and crafts. Days ago, they organized a lecture on African lost arts with famed French art historian, Bénédicte Savoy speaking on the subject in Kumawu with traditional authorities and industry players in attendance.

In 2015 the Kumawuman Palace Museum was commissioned as part of efforts to preserve the area’s royal history. A centre and computer-based software were also built for smallholder farmers to maximize yields and access to the market.

Prof. Nyarko said all of these undertakings are part of a grander scheme of plans and actions toward making Kumawu a launchpad for scaling the programmes to other parts of Africa.

He maintained, “I would want first of all, succeed here; proof of concept. It is a large enough place that if we succeed here, it will be a good model. The land of Kumawu is 2% of the land mass of Ghana. There is Digya National Forest which is essential, and Kumawu land as well – historically. If you add that you have 3% of the land mass of Ghana, so it’s not a small area that we are thinking about.

“So we want to use this as a test case to do something amazing both in the cultural realm and the economic realm. So if we are able to showcase how to transform the lives, and the economics, and the work of the smallholder farmers in this area, it would translate all across the continent of Africa.”

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