· As centenary formally launched
Story: TIMOTHY GOBAH
A BRIEF but colourful ceremony yesterday to formally launch the activities marking Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s centenary birthday, attracted an impressive array of political heavy weights.
The heavyweights who include the VICE-President, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, eulogized the man who has been voted the African of the millennium.
The ceremony also attracted dignitaries, among who were the children of Dr. Nkrumah, the diplomatic corps, the 2008 election presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the Chairman of the NPP, Mr. Peter Mac-Manu, traditional leaders, government officials and a large representation of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP).
The occasion also witnessed the sod cutting for the renovation of the Kwame Nkrumah Park, as well as the unveiling of the logo for the celebrations.
The programme, which began at 11 a.m., was heralded by splendid cultural displays from various troupes across the country, as well as patriotic songs from choirs and the National Symphony Orchestra.
A tall list of activities, including public lectures, symposia, tourism and entertainment events, will characterize the occasion, which falls on September 21, 2009 and has been declared by President J.E.A. Mills as a statutory public holiday. The activities marking the celebration will, however, continue till May 2010.
Launching the ceremony, the VICE-President, Mr. John Mahama, described the founder and the first President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, as an institution in Africa and in the Diaspora, where he fought selflessly for the emancipation and total liberation of Africa.
He said in addition to being at the forefront of Ghana’s independence and Africa’s liberation struggle, Dr. Nkrumah’s achievements ran through the length and breadth of the country.
“He laid a solid foundation for the country’s infrastructural architecture. The many schools, roads, ports, health facilities, a hydro power project and his vigorous industrialisation and agricultural programmes formed the nucleus of a vision he had for Ghana,” he stressed.
The Vice-President said Dr. Nkrumah preached African continental unity and demonstrated it at home, saying “he was an icon in whom the embodiment of a truly African vision was personified in his mode of dressing and the institutions he set up to project our cultural heritage”.
“Those of us who either live during his lifetime as adults or experienced it as teenagers can testify to a united country that he sought to build. A Country devoid of tribalism and ethnic animosity,” he said.
Mr. Mahama said there had not been any period in the history of this country when the consciousness, identity and unity were more solid and visible than during the era of Dr. Nkrumah, nothing that Africa and those of African descent identified themselves with Ghana and were proud to hold Ghanaian passports.
“These are the attributes we need to cherish in order to build a prosperous and united country. So for a person to have lived and died a vicarious life for his compatriots, there is no other tribute to give than keeping his name and works continuously aflame”, he stressed.
In a welcoming address, the Chairman of the Kwame Nkrumah Centenary Planning Committee, Prof. Akilakpa Sawyerr, said in developing the programme, the committee was guided by those considerations to make the celebration truly national involving all sections of the Ghanaian society.
He said the committee also considered making the celebration reflect the popular character of the independence movement, while marking the unique personal leadership and inspirational qualities of Dr. Nkrumah.
Later in an interview, Mr. Mac-Manu applauded the Mills administration for instituting the celebration as well as declaring a holiday in Dr. Nkrumah’s honour.
He described Dr. Nkrumah as a visionary leader who had worked to unite the country, saying “this is a national celebration and we must all get involved.
“I am a Ghanaian and I am duty bound to participate in all national affairs, including the celebration of a visionary leader like Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah”, he stressed.
Many African leaders are expected to join the government and the rest of Ghanaians her and elsewhere on the continent and across the world to celebrate the life of he man who is undisputably acclaimed as the African of the 20th Millennium and patriarch of the African liberation struggle.
Dr. Nkrumah’s memory has been immortalized in many respects for leading Ghana to attain independence from British colonial rule, and the decision by President Mills to make the celebration of his centenary birthday grand will give an additional impetus to his memory.
At the 13th ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) in Sirte, Libya, July this year, President Mills managed to convince his peers and the AU to adopt the centenary birthday celebration of Dr. Nkrumah as a continental event.
In a resolution passed at the end of the summit, the African heads of state were reported to have “unanimously agreed to celebrate Dr. Nkrumah’s centenary birthday and put it on the AU’s calendar of Special Events”.
The leaders also accepted an invitation by President Mills to join Ghanaians to celebrate the occasion. Many of them took turns to praise Dr. Nkrumah’s visionary leadership, and expressed their willingness to participate in the celebration.
Daily Graphic - Pages: 1-3 Saturday, September 12, 2009