Three impressive and colourful ground-breaking ceremonies for the construction of a Community Slave Museum at Xedrzanawo, Adzido Slave Market Visitor Centre at Adzido as well as the Adafienu Palace Slave Museum, all at Denu in the Ketu South Municipality of the Volta Region have taken place at Denu.
The official ceremonies for the three projects were jointly performed by the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for the area, the Principal Investigator and Project Specialist and Archaeologist as well as the Chiefs of Xedzranawo and Adafienu respectively.
The projects emanated from an archaeological research report by the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies (DAHS) of the University of Ghana, Legon on the slave legacies of Xedzranawo, Adzido and Adafienu, all suburbs of Denu. The findings of the report highlighted slave legacies in these three communities including the existence of deep tangible and intangible histories of slavery that opens up opportunities for research and grassroots community development.
The archaeological research was conducted by a team of research assistants from the DAHS under the leadership of Prof. Wazi Apoh, an Associate Professor, Archaeologist and a Heritage Expert.
The report noted that even though numerous forts and castles have been designated as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites, it is mostly Cape Coast and Elmina Castles in the Central Region that feature prominently in heritage tourism and slavery discussions.
Xedzranawo community which was founded in 1796 by a warrior, Torgbui Sape Agbo I was colonized by the world imperialists who also traded with the indigens in many areas including the sale of copra and the obnoxious slave trade. According to the Head of the Sowu Family of Xedzranawo, Mr. Ephraim Adzageli, the imperialists later built offices along the coast including Adzido where the slaves were kept.
At Adafienu, the first settlers to arrive there included Torgbui Dovo I and his descendants. According to the Chairman of the Dovo Royal Family of Adafienu, Mr. David Dzifa Kudowor, Torgbui Dovo’s palace became a slave palace called Dome-Agbomi gate for several years until Torgbui Dovo I, King of Adafienu later signed a Treaty with the Queen of England, Queen Victoria that culminated in efforts to end the obnoxious Trans African Trade.
Breaking the grounds for the official take-off of the projects, MCE for the area, Hon. Elliot Edem Agbenorwu was glad that the construction of the monuments was happening not only during the tenure of office of the President, Nana Addo Dankua Akufo-Addo and the NPP government but also during his reign as MCE for the area. The projects, he said mean a lot to the people in view of the contribution the edifices would make to the development of the hospitality industry in the area.
Mr. Agbenorwu gave the assurance that the poor road network from the main junction to the sites would be fixed by the end of the year to enable tourists and the general public have easy and full access to the historical sites. ‘I have also pledged that people living along such areas without electricity would also be connected to the national grid so that the project can have a very full take off’, the MCE indicated.
The Project Specialist, Prof. Wazi Apoh said the Xedzranawo buildings for instance are not only as old as 200 years or more but also had two periods of foreign involvement beginning from the Danes and later on to the British colonial imperialists. He disclosed that material remains such as ancient bottles containing alcoholic beverages, ceramic plates, beads and fauna remains were found during the excavation exercise. Community members, Prof. Apoh said also have remains such as long chains that were used in the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.
Prof. Apoh who is also an Archaeologist and a Heritage Expert, said the memories of slavery found in the area in 2019 boosted his and his team’s interest to pursue the research. According to him, the people of the Three-Town sites in the southern Volta Region namely Denu, Adafienu and Xedzranawo have also endured the trade in the enslavement of humans, adding that these edifices being the tangible and intangible heritage in the area speak a lot to this.
The Dufia of Xedzranawo and Awaklasuga of the Somey Traditional Area, Torgbui Sape Agbo V was full of praise for Prof. Apoh and the MCE for their immense support towards the realization and commencement of the projects. Dufia of Adafienu, Torgbui Dovo V described the gesture as a big dream come true.
Secretary to the Awoamefia of the Anlo State, Agbotadua Kumassah charged the youth of the area to exhibit a positive conduct in their interaction with tourists and visitors that would besiege the area after the completion of the projects. According to him, it is their conduct and attitudes that would attract the needed investment to the area.
Work on the three historical projects has already begun and is expected to be completed before December, this year.
The three projects which cost Euros 90,000.00 are being funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) based in Germany. The Foundation saw merit in Prof. Apoh’s proposal idea, approved it and subsequently awarded funds for the three (3) projects in the area. The monies have already hit the accounts of the University of Ghana, Legon which is disbursing the funds to the contractors for the execution of the projects.
Credit: Akukorku media consult