A traditional fishing boat built as a replica of one that could be found in the African nation of Ghana will be part of a presentation Saturday at the Willow Hill Heritage & Renaissance Center in Portal.
The presentation, entitled “The Waters of Ghana Reach America,” and a discussion to follow will begin at 1 p.m. The public is invited to the free event.
An exhibit at Willow Hill will feature a traditional Ghana fishing boat that was built by Fulbright scholar Ralph G. Brown. Ghana is located in the Western African region known as the Gold Coast. It has a history of maritime cultural exchange from the time of early African kingdoms, the Atlantic Slave Trade, to modern times.
In 2004-2005, Brown traveled to Ghana and helped construct an ocean-going dugout canoe, also known as an “ahima.”
In 2019, Brown donated the dugout canoe and a freshwater canoe, also built in Ghana, to the online Museum of Underwater Archaeology. The museum then lent the boats to a graduate class in maritime public outreach at Georgia Southern University.
Students in that class, under Dr. Kurt Knoerl, created both a physical and a digital exhibit about the ocean-going dugout canoe. As part of that class, the students interviewed Brown and used his photographs of the building process as well as tools from the project in the exhibit.
Earlier this year, the museum donated the boats, tools, photographs and oral history recordings to the Willow Hill Heritage & Renaissance Center so that the boats would be exhibited to the public, according to Dr. Alvin D. Jackson, Board president of the Willow Hill Center.
During Saturday’s presentation, Dr. Jackson will moderate a discussion by a panel that will include Dr. T. Kurt Knoerl Ph.D., RPA, assistant professor of History, director of the Museum of Underwater Archaeology on the Armstrong Campus of Georgia Southern; Dr. Kwaku Nti, associate professor of History on the Armstrong Campus; Dr. Maxine Bryant, assistant professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology, director of Center for Africana Studies on the Armstrong Campus; and Dr. Amir Jamal Toure', resident scholar, People's Historian, Geechee Kunda and founder of Day Clean.
For more information, call the Willow Hill Center (912) 800-1467 or go to the website at willowhillheritage.org.