|Kwame strikes a Ben 10 mania pose!|
Children dabble in flights of fantasy which tend to change with the speed of light. For my son Kwame his newest craze is outer space triggered by Ben 10 and unmistakably The Adventures of Tintin in Destination Moon. I must add that these Tintin comics are a tad too expensive in Accra but I digress. Last weekend after this industrial existence got in the way so many uncomfortable times Kwame and I got to visit Ghana and I am told West Africa’s only “planet” on earth.
|Visitors at the Ghana Planetarium ready to stargaze.|
To be exact this “planet” is in reality what is properly called a planetarium. At its spatial locus in Cantonments this learning centre looks like an igloo from the outside given its very oval pate and lily white hue. You understand the nature of the roof once you get inside. The innards of this planetarium are essentially wired to trigger curiosity about this our universe. Posters of the various stars and planets stare down from the walls and the dome serves as a giant screen where simulations of the pitch dark night sky dotted with planetary bodies appear and educational movies on astronomy, the space industry and all things galactic are shown. As I expected Kwame was blown away; I could imagine his mental universe stretched a quadrizillion times; his imagination animated and fired up. For days the ears of abusuafo(the clan) have known no peace from this encounter. For myself as an adult it was both a learning and reflection experience.
Long before Allotey and Hawkings the Dogons of Mali knew that sigi tolo (Sirius in English) is the brightest star and had appropriated their advanced astronomical knowledge for social organization. Our own fisher folk at Chorkor, Apam and elsewhere utilize their esoteric knowledge of the movement of the stars to navigate the vast watery expanses of the oceans. I have pondered this infinite expanse beyond this earth where water glides away(you simply cannot fetch water in space) and where the human body is prone to muscular and bone atrophy. Today nations are staking territorial claims in this void with Chinese taikonauts making the latest bid. In the space race is locked the eternal power question: has Africa lost out(too many if not all of the stars have European/Western names; naming power huh!) ? This is my strategic mind wondering.
Dr. Ashong and his team at the Ghana Planetarium have shown great courage and determination in pushing this project forward to allow Ghana’s children to DREAM. How I wish more funding will pour in especially from government(and hopefully corporate Ghana without their buntings,logos and other advertising frills taking over) to make this “planet” grander and reflective of its national and West African pretensions. I dream of lush greens; oriental ponds; exquisite landscaping; rolling trees; a larger planetarium that can seat at least 2000 children(from all over Ghana) and their parents and all that will trigger meditation and inspiration on the infinite powers of the human mind and the inventiveness and courage of the human spirit.