The Use of Art in the Preservation of History: A Case Study of Winneba and Mankessim

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The main objective of this thesis is to study how history can be preserved through art. This thesis has examined the forms or works of arts that are used in the preservation of history by the people of Winneba and Mankessim in the Central Region of Ghana and how important these art works are to the lives of the people in the two towns. The study has become necessary because the Central Region of Ghana is well known for its cultural heritage, historical sites and monuments. The history of most towns and villages are enshrined in the various forms of art such as Performing Art, Verbal Art, Visual Art and other art forms. Art forms such as sculptures which are usually made to represents the oratory of the people are found at strategic locations like the Mankessim main roundabout and Winneba in the Central Region of Ghana. This is to say that these art forms present past records and events. However, only a few people in Winneba and Mankessim could associate their history with the Art forms that represents them; this could be due to unawareness, generational gap or the lack of understanding for the various art forms. The research therefore seeks to investigate and educate by documenting on the selected art forms of the people of Mankessim and Winneba in the Central Region of Ghana which relates to the history of the people. The researcher used descriptive method of Qualitative Approach in analysing and putting together of the raw materials. Data were obtained through the use of questionnaire and interviews. It was found that though the people of Winneba and Mankessim use art in the preservation of most of their important histories, a number of the populace did not know about how art has been used as a means of preserving their history. Out of the 100 people interviewed, 36 were unacquainted with the fact that art can be used or had been employed in the preservation of their history. The research discusses the art forms employed by the people of Winneba and Mankessim and factions them under visual or environmental arts, performing (music) and verbal (oral) arts. The researcher opines that it is time to carefully examine the significance of the use of art as an important source of writing or preserving history. In the research, the researcher found out that lot has been written or said about history and historical sites in the central region of Ghana which Winneba and Mankessim are part. These writers and narrators at the various tourist centres have neglected how these histories have largely been kept with the help of art. It is in these areas that the present thesis has made the greatest or major contribution to the growth of knowledge, beside the wealth of new information concerning the relationship between art and history has been revealed by this thesis. Through this research, we have been able to unearth how the art works are related or associated to the people and the region in general. Moreover, we have got to know how art can be used as a means of preserving history and also, how art and history are interwoven. The researcher recommend that opinion leaders in the town like the chiefs, Assembly men and women, presiding members, Historians, others scholars and institutions like the West African Examination Council (WAEC), Universities and Ghana Education Service should enforce the suggestions made on the use of art in the learning of histories of these two towns and history in general.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy (African Art and Culture),