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Akufo-Addo to DuBois Foundation: Agreement to redevelop centre will be firmed up

Akufo-Addo gave this assurance when the executive director of the DuBois Foundation, Japhet Aryiku, led a delegation to pay a courtesy call on him

President Akufo-Addo has assured a delegation from the W E B DuBois Foundation that his government will ensure that an agreement which is expected to pave the way for the redevelopment of the DuBois Centre in Cantonments, Accra is firmed up.

The president gave this assurance when the executive director of the W E B DuBois Foundation, Japhet Aryiku, led a delegation to pay a courtesy call on him at Jubilee House today (Monday 28 August 2023).

In remarks to guests at the meeting, Japhet Aryiku said that the DuBois Foundation and its partners have a plan to develop the centre into a first-class museum complex. However, there have been challenges with getting the deal signed so that the redevelopment can commence.

“We have people lined up to help us develop [the DuBois Centre] but they are saying that they are not going to give us money to develop the place if we don’t have a document saying we have the right to develop [the DuBois Centre],” Aryiku said.

Assurance

Responding, President Akufo-Addo said Aryiku had shown, in his submissions as executive director of the DuBois Foundation, that the late W E B DuBois is a universal figure with admirers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Ghana, he said, is privileged to be the only African country to be a part of his enviable life and rich history.

“It is obvious that Ghana has a unique role to play in promoting [W E B DuBois], his ideas, promoting his history, [and] promoting his connection,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“He is buried here [at the DuBois Centre in Ghana]. His remains are here, and he chose to die here. These are irreversible facts that tie us to him and his legacy for ever and ever. So, there is every reason for us to be able to work together to achieve your goal,” President Akufo-Addo further said.

The delegation

The delegation that paid the courtesy call on the president included Dr David Levering Lewis, the author of A Biography – W E B DuBois, Jeffrey Peck, great-grandson of Dr DuBois, Dr Aldon Morris, the author of Scholar Denied, Dr Karcheik Sim Alcarado of Morehouse College in the United States, Dr Whitney Battle-Baptiste, of the University of Massachusetts in the United States, and Ms Lanisa Kitchiner.

W E B DuBois

William Edward Burghardt DuBois stands at the summit of African and African-American history and culture. He was born in Massachusetts in 1868, the year the Fourteenth Amendment to the US constitution was ratified, conferring US citizenship on African Americans.

He died in Ghana on the eve of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on 28 August 1963, when the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King, Jr shared his vision of social justice (the “I have a dream” speech) at the height of the modern civil rights movement.

A vocal critic of racial oppression, political activist and institution builder, author and editor, historian, philosopher, pioneering sociologist, teacher and fervent pan-Africanist, DuBois early on articulated a vision for free and independent African nations.

Arguably the most important African-American intellectual of the modern era, DuBois virtually invented modern African-American letters and gave form to the consciousness animating the work of practically all other modern African-American intellectuals to follow.

More than that, he reshaped how the complex experience of America and African America could be understood. He left Americans – black and white – a legacy of intellectual tools and a language with which they might analyse their present and imagine a future.

In May 1961 Kwame Nkrumah, the then president of Ghana, whom DuBois had met and known since 1945, invited him to move to Ghana to undertake direction of the preparation of an Encyclopaedia Africana, a global, interdisciplinary publication to document the experience and historical contributions of African peoples in the world.

From late 1961, DuBois lived a full life in Accra as he worked on the Encyclopaedia. He died on 27 August 1963, the day before his American compatriots assembled for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He was given a state funeral and interred outside Christiansborg Castle in Osu, formerly a holding pen for cargoes of enslaved peoples bound for the Americas.

In 1984, DuBois’s remains were removed from Christiansborg Castle to their present resting place at Number 22, First Circular Road, near the US Embassy in Accra. The following year, the W E B DuBois Memorial Centre for Pan-African Culture was opened, with DuBois’s library, a museum and the mausoleum where he and his late wife, Shirley Graham DuBois, are buried.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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