All too soon , another independence day beckons. This time around, in 2021, we are fighting and dealing with the covid 19 pandemic. Sister Corona is still around with us and the coronavirus cases have been rising. Some vaccines have arrived, Ghana being the first to get the COVAX vaccine. Some would feel that 64 years on from independence, Ghana would have been able to produce vaccines or have alternative solutions to major health problems like this one. Due to COVID-19, there would be no independence parade. But should there have been one anyway? We’ve been wondering—aren’t there better ways to celebrate this day? Here, we present certain ideas as to how to better celebrate Independence Day.
Cancel the parades
Yes, we know there’s something nostalgic about those parades. And there’s just something about seeing the school kids march past the flag and the security services dress immaculately while engaging in all sorts of gymnastics and acrobatics. The music from the brass band, we must admit, is also good. However, there is something colonial about the Independence Day parade too. The parades are a post-colonial relic that must be done away with because they perpetuate notions of hegemony. What we are saying is that the parades are western or Eurocentric. For instance, we could replace it with something more Afrocentric. We could have something more traditional or cultural such as a durbar which foregrounds Afrocentricity or accentuates traditional Ghanaian identity and ethos.
Yes, it is more about celebrating the bravado and the efforts of our forebears in fighting for our freedoms, but there should be better ways to do this. While at it, I’m sure we could save some time, money and energy.
National values town-halls or forums or assemblies
A better way to pay homage to our forefathers for their valour and sacrifice is through our lives and attitudes rather than simply marching once every year. If we truly love our country, if we truly desire for a great awakening, if we want to be truly free, we have to think about using Independence Day to fundamentally contribute to revolutionizing our way of life and governance than simply organizing cook outs or going to the beach. These gatherings will help us decide what values are important to us, how we can deepen such values and talk about issues of importance in our communities. At these meetings, we could talk about what the Ghanaian identity should be, what the national vision should be and what the Ghanaian dream should be (#GhanaianDream).
All this information can then be fed into national development plans or policies. It can also be formative research or to lay the groundwork for a national identity or values drive. Identity is important because it is the core framework that defines a person. Pastor Mensa Otabil made the point that one of the biggest problems for Africans is the sense of inferiority. A great sense of identity would ignite a sense of confidence and lead to a mental change that will put us in charge at the centre of our own destiny. In other words, this will feed directly into the government’s plans for a “Ghana Beyond Aid”. It may not seem apparent but change in attitude, mind-set and an emboldened sense of identity are critical to transforming our nation. We need to begin to define our lives, our sense of fulfilment, happiness from an Afrocentric rather than Eurocentric perspective.
Share success stories
Ghana arrived at the point of independence on March 6,1957 because we wanted independence now (then). In 2021, there are several Ghanaians who are driving for Ghana’s development in their own ways – in spite of the current covid challenges. We normally celebrate Ghanaian heroes during this period but it’s time for us to celebrate more modern day Ghanaian achievers. Let’s point out Ghanaians who are doing well in their chosen professions that we know personally. This ensures we are taking note of progress being made and are near such successes. This would drive us to individually do better as well.
We used to say we were not celebrating successes enough. Now, there are lots of awards celebrating achievement in Ghana. However, we see award organizers selling awards to the highest bidder and others buying recognition. This is unethical, and we must do these things in the right manners. Let us publicly acclaim great things around us and showcase small successes in spite of daunting odds. We would be giving ourselves less excuses for why we are not succeeding. It would bode well for our confidence as people, and we would stop looking down at ourselves too much of the time. Some Ghanaians ask around March 6, “What are we celebrating?” If we pinpoint people and places to celebrate near us, we would inspire ourselves to do more and have many things to celebrate.
Buy our own
Ghana’s economy has grown, especially through 28 years of stable democratic rule. The macroeconomic indicators could be better and the cedi devaluation has been undefeated through the years. It is important for us to buy made in Ghana products and have more confidence in the cedi as a nation. If we can create better demand for local products, we can help control the amounts of imports into Ghana while giving local producers the confidence and urge to produce and supply more.
Many businesses here in Ghana are owned by Ghanaians, compared to situations in other African countries. We must endeavour to buy more local products. Let us create as we consume.On the occasion of Ghana’s birthday, Ghanaians should buy things we have made and continue to make. We need to ensure as many Ghanaians have good basic income. This can be driven by citizens patronising, more local products, giving great feedback and support for the things we collectively make to be better.
Celebrate other tribes
Secondary school education has been a great way for Ghanaians to experience different parts of Ghana and be introduced to other Ghanaian tribes and cultures. It is one thing that many scholars outside Ghana celebrate about our dear nation. Various policies have helped Ghanaians mix and become more aware of our nation’s history, cultures, and nuances. Elections, partisan politics and other things have seemed to divide us along tribal lines. We like to joke and troll a lot and that has lent itself for further cultural divides. In the spirit of celebrating Ghana, let us praise what we love about other tribes that are not ‘ours’. Let us show our knowledge of other parts of Ghana and what we adore about those places.
This should spur more domestic tourism as we discuss and demonstrate our collective heritage. Many Ghanaians, especially youth, have hardly been to their hometowns. This must change as we must take pride in where we are from and contribute more to develop these places. This would help check rural-urban migration. We should not limit our love to our hometowns and our families. There are many communities in Ghana that can benefit from our skills. To appreciate these places more, we must discover what is great about them. It improves our worldview and makes us more enlightened. We must embrace Ghana as a melting pot and must showcase, enjoy and benefit from all is within it.
Written by Etse Sikanku of the Center Public Discourse Analysis and Ato Ulzen-Appiah of the GhanaThink Foundation