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Artefacts donated to the Institute of African Studies Museum and Kwabena Nketia Archives

The Institute of African Studies on Wednesday, 16 October 2019 received a donation from Ms Yvonne Borloz and Ms Arlette Senn-Borloz, daughters of a Swiss Merchant and Engineer, Mr Albert Lucien Borloz (1899-1993), who lived and worked in the Gold Coast in the 20th Century. The items donated were a collection of Mr Borloz’s personal belongings that he used during his stay in the Gold Coast from 1918 to 1920.  The donation was facilitated by the Swiss Embassy in Ghana and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in Ghana.

Presenting the items to the Institute, the Borloz sisters expressed their appreciation to the Institute and the University of Ghana for warmly receiving them. They indicated that their father’s stay in the Gold Coast was quite important to their history and legacy and were happy that the Institute had accepted to preserve it. Mrs Arlette Senn-Borloz and Mrs Yvonne Borloz appealed to the Institute to ensure that the artefacts were utilized to promote research.

An official from the Swiss Embassy, Ms. Lucienne Vaudan, who represented the Swiss Ambassador to Ghana was delighted that the Embassy was instrumental in transporting the items from Switzerland to Ghana. She reiterated that Switzerland would continue to collaborate with Ghana to support research activities.

The priceless artefacts were received by the Director of the Institute, Professor Dzodzi Tsikata at a short ceremony in the museum of the Institute (Kwame Nkrumah building complex). The Director noted that the Institute was fortunate to receive the items and add to its collections. She stated that the Institute was ready to collaborate with individuals, institutions and organizations to enrich its collections in order to enhance teaching and learning. The Director assured the Borloz family that the artefacts would be put to good use to promote research.

The artefacts comprised two wooden sculpted paddles; a sculpted cane; a chain with spoon and fork at the ends (sculpted in one piece); a metal figurine representing a woman grinding cereals; a wooden elephant; a small tambourine; two small containers where one is used for storing gun powder; a straw protection for men’s parts; a pith helmet bought in Marseille; a photo album, a handwritten book with Albert Borloz’ s African (Ghana) memories; a diary (d.1918 - 1920); a cash book with everyday detail of expenses, a Swiss passport - No 8496 issued in 1918  with all stamps of his journey; a Gold Coast driver’s licence; a leather suitcase marked AB; original glass plates of all pictures taken at that time; and several official letters and documents. In addition, there were other documents including a permit to stay in France (d. 1915); a certificate of identity of the Swiss political department stating  that Albert Borloz was a holder of passport No. 8496 and was heading to the Gold Coast via France (d.1918); a certificate of nationality and Identity delivered by the Gold Coast Government in 1919, stating that Albert Borloz was working at Tarkwa gold mines and was travelling to Switzerland via Liverpool and a certificate of nationality and identity (d.1922) for a trip to Switzerland via England.

Albert Borloz was born in Switzerland in 1899. His father moved to France with him and his sister after the death of their mother. They spent two years in the United States of America before moving back to Switzerland in 1918 during the World War I. He left Switzerland in January 1918 for the Gold Coast via Marseilles, Dakar and Freetown. When Albert Borloz arrived in the Gold Coast, he first worked with an import-export French trading company for a while but due to ill health, he had to return to Switzerland for treatment in 1919. He returned to work at the Tarkwa Gold mines for about 9 months before setting up his own business. He secured a contract to construct about 5 miles of the railway between Kumasi and Accra. He was compelled to return to Switzerland permanently due to ill health again after working for about 8 months. Whiles in the Gold Coast, he stayed at Obuasi, Asafo, Asaman, Bekwai, Kumasi, Ejura, Kintampo, Secondi-Takoradi, Tarkwa and Dunkwa.

In addition to the items received from the Borloz family, the Institute also received a collection of a broad range of Nigerian Music, donated to the J. H. Kwabena Nketia Archives by Professor Austin Emielu, a Visiting Scholar at the Department of Music, University of Ghana. Professor Emielu is the Liaison Officer (Nigeria) for the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) and African Studies Association (ASA) Presidential Fellow of 2019.  The collection consists of commercial recordings from his field work on Nigerian Music and other live recordings.

The materials are to be preserved at the J. H. K. Nketia Archives and to support teaching and research activities on African Music. The Director of the IAS who received the items assured that the CDs would be made accessible to the University Community and the general public who patronize the J. H. K. Archives to seek information and conduct research.

Present at the ceremony were members of faculty, staff and students of the Institute. They included Dr. Irene Appeaning Addo, Research Coordinator for the Media and Visual Arts Section; Professor Kwame Amoah Labi; of the Media and Visual Arts Section and Professor Ohioma Pogoson, Visiting Scholar also with the Media and Visual Arts Section. Others included Professor Albert Awedoba of the Societies and Cultures Section; Dr. Mercy Akrofi Ansah of the Language, Literature and Drama Section; Dr. Genevieve Nrenzah, Dr. Chika Mba and Rev. (Dr.) Grace Sintim-Adasi all of the Religions and Philosophy Section; and Mr. William Asare, the Senior Assistant Registrar of the Institute. Also present were Rev. Joseph Ankomah Cromwell; a lecturer at the Ramseyer Training Centre- Abetifi, and Dr. Joel Sonne, former Chief Director, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, as well as Mr. Philip Owusu, Mrs. Fedelia Ameterwee, Mr. Lamptey Mills and Mrs Selina Okle, all members of staff of the IAS.

A group photo after the presentation
A group photo taken after the presentation