Ghana is 60 and we are blessed to be celebrating a country that is united, blessed with rich culture and filled with friendly people. We are blessed with many natural resources and in the midst of all the challenges we enjoy a peaceful and stable democracy.
As we celebrate 60 years, I am just imagining my dream and ideal celebration. It is so easy to hold celebrations and to have a lot of merry making. However, for such milestone celebrations there has to be clear goals and objectives for the celebration. In my view the anniversary should be used as a channel for further growth and development.
So If I were the person planning this celebration, this is how I would have approached it. I have three key blocks of activities in mind. They are what I call the soft behavioral/attitudinal activities; the infrastructure driven activities and the merry marking activities.
For the attitudinal goals, I am thinking of a yearlong campaign to remind people about the values of the nation, the ideals of Patriotism and core values of Ghana. As a nation we cannot lose our culture. Although the world is changing and in the midst of digitization and technological growth we still have to keep our cultural values. Britain, Japan, China, are all highly developed countries. Yet, they have preserved part of their cultural heritage which are manifested in buildings, monuments and ways of doing things and some of these things have been become reference points and tourists attractions for other countries.
Last night, I attended a concert organized by one of the best choral groups in the country, El Dunamis Minstrels. The group organized an evening of folk tunes, patriotic and local songs and poetry performances under the theme, the Role of Patriotism and Culture in National development. The main speaker, Dr Samson Obed Appiah, a lecturer at the Department of Sociology, University of Ghana, gave an excellent delivery on the theme. In this speech, he reminded Ghanaians about the importance of patriotism and culture and how these must be preserved and enriched to promote socio economic growth. He reminded people about the values of communalism, respect for the elderly and the wearing of African clothing as part of our identity.
I subscribe to what Dr Appiah said. We cannot develop and lose our identity as a people. The Chinese, Japanese, Indians and Arabs all have their unique identities and these have not been compromised in the midst of rapid development.
An attitudinal change campaign must be aggressively pursued. How can we celebrate our 60th anniversary when our rivers are polluted, our environment is being destroyed and our values are being compromised? How can we be known for lateness, filth and lack of maintenance? These negative values cannot be part of our identity. This is why I commend Gels Communications and TLC for launching the GH Timekeeping Initiative which is gradually gaining grounds. A national campaign to change people’s attitude towards Time, the Environment, indiscipline, corruption and a good maintenance of culture is a must. One of the things that we need to improve is supporting each other and helping each other succeed (the collectivist and communal spirit). The “PHD” or “pull him down” attitude are all negative behaviors that are gradually becoming part of our make- up. This is unfortunate. We need to learn from the Jews and Lebanese who help each other succeed wherever they find themselves.
On the infrastructure side, I think the following would have given us a lot of value. We need regional parks and recreational centers. The setting up of a national innovations center and a science exploratory center should be considered in our planning. I also think we need to establish Environmental Preservation and Restoration Program. Our environment has been compromised and we need to put a program in place to preserve what we have left and restore what has been lost.
Symbolically, I also propose the construction of 60 basic schools with in-house libraries and digital centers; the refurbishment of 60 existing schools, the building of 60 health centers and 600 boreholes. All these should have been part of the legacy projects. These are projects that can easily be funded by private companies, religious bodies such as churches and NGO’s.
Finally, the government should consider constructing the tallest building in Africa to be named the Unity building and the biggest concert theater in Africa within the next 15 years. This is ambitious but achievable. We all travel to Dubai to see the tallest building and to China to see the Great Wall of China. Ghana must also be known for something unique and extraordinary and we can do all these things if put make the decision to get them done.
When it comes to be merry making it is so easy to do but one of the things that could have been done easily are Regional concerts. Every region should be able to organize one big concerts which will feature musicians who come from their region as the lead performers whilst those from other regions support them. In the capital city, I believe a national thanksgiving gospel concert should feature a Black musician. My two best gospel artistes will be Donnie Mcclurkin and Cece Winans. The concert should certainly feature Ghanaian musicians but it will be good to have some black American musicians join us.
Ghana is a blessed country and we continue to make progress with each passing year; however we have to transform our small steps into giant paces. We can only do that if develop clear goals for every milestone celebration which feeds into our overall national development plan.
God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong.