By Nelson Kofi Akatey
It is gratifying to note that the past four years have seen significant projects and programmes initiated and implemented by the National Commission on Culture (NCC) and her agencies/centres with the aim of promoting the development of Ghanaian culture and cultural heritage.
The National Commission on Culture was established in 1990 through the Proclamation of PNDC Law 238. As part of its stated objectives, the Commission was established to initiate policies and programmes for the dissemination and projection of ideas for the promotion of national pride, solidarity and consciousness.
It is also to promote the evolution of integrated National Culture thus creating a distinct Ghanaian personality to be reflected in African and world affairs.
Modern day realities would also as a matter of necessity impose on the Commission the need to work consciously to educate Ghanaians about negative cultural practices that retard progress and development with a view to reforming and abolishing such outmoded customs and practices. In this direction, one can easily mention the countless number of land and chieftaincy disputes and other forms of cultural practices, which are still very prominent in our various societies. The Commission should also consider promoting cultural tourism to attract investment and revenue.
Undoubtedly, this is to underscore the important role culture plays as the bedrock of our developmental efforts.
According to available statistics, Ghana has over 50 ethnic groupings whose common values and institutions represent our collective national heritage.
The past years have been very challenging indeed. Notwithstanding these challenges the Commission has been able to achieve significant successes towards making culture the pivot of our national development.
Out of the many programmes undertaken by the Commission over the couple of years, the most significant was the launch of the Cultural Policy Document of Ghana. The 46-page document was out-doored at a colourful ceremony at the National Theatre to coincide with the celebration of the first ever Congress of Artistes and Cultural Workers of Ghana. The Policy Document was the result of many years of deliberation and discussions at several public workshops and fora held throughout the country.
It is dedicated to the realisation of the vision of the people of Ghana to respect, preserve, harness and use their cultural heritage and resources to develop a united vibrant and prosperous national community with a distinctive African identity and personality. The
Document remains the only blue print Document for the nation’s cultural development and promotion.
Additionally, it seeks to document and promote Ghana’s traditional cultural values, ensure the growth and development of our cultural institutions and make them relevant to human development, democratic governance and national integration. It is to enhance Ghanaian cultural life and develop cultural programmes to contribute to the nation’s human development and national progress.
The Trust Fund:
It is an acknowledged fact that for any good thing to be successful, much depends on the availability of funds. In recognition of this fact, the National Commission on Culture has recommended the establishment of a Culture Trust Fund as a critical pool for the mobilization of resources for the development of our cultural sector. The proposal, which has, since been approved by Cabinet, is expected to take off soon.
What is even more assuring and significant about the Trust is that to demonstrate its commitment, the Government has donated a seed money of ¢2.5 Billion to kick-start. Why is the Trust so important?
Currently, the Commission and its twenty-two (22) Institutions under it are funded primarily through Government subvention. Unfortunately, each year, the allocation made to the Commission for its programmes and services is woefully inadequate to meet the demands of the cultural sector. The Trust would therefore become a critical source of revenue and a significant intervention. With it, the culture and the Arts would be promoted and enhanced
The Culture and Education workshop jointly organised by the Commission and the Ministry of Education and Sports in May 2005 was to brainstorm on the relevance of culture in our educational sector. The workshop was to assess critically the role of culture and fashion out policies that would integrate and incorporate culture into our formal educational system.
The one-week workshop produced many fruitful and practical results towards making teaching and learning in our schools and colleges more cultural related. The National commission on Culture, the main organiser of the workshop and the collaborative partners, the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Universities are hoping to start implementing the recommendations this year.
Another equally important workshop the Commission organised was on “Culture and HIV/AIDS”. The importance of this workshop cannot be under-estimated. It is known that the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has much also to do with our culture and cultural practices. It was against this background that the workshop was organised to identify some of the cultural practices in our respective communities and to educate the people on the need to either reform or abolish such practices. Some of these practices have been entrenched in our traditional belief systems to the extent that it is was quite difficult changing peoples’ opinion and getting them to appreciate the need for a change. Because of the relevance and great impact the workshop had, the Ghana AIDS Commission, which was the main sponsor of the workshop promised to fund future programmes. The workshop was indeed another significant success.
It was very evident from the workshop that some of our cultural practices needed much change if not to be abolished completely.
The second phase of the project which would begin this year (with assurance from the Ghana AIDS Commission) would be community-based programmes where the actual sensitisation would take place.
Other workshops organised during the year were on the Relevance of Culture in contemporary Times, National Congress of Artistes and Cultural Workers of Ghana and Culture and Nepad.
Though the establishment of a website in itself is no hard news, one cannot deny the fact that establishing a website for the promotion and development of Ghanaian Culture is worth commending. This is the first ever website specifically designed for the promotion of culture to be established in the West African region.
It would become an important tool for tourism promotion and a source of information on Ghanaian and African Culture.
Tourism has become one of the most important commodities for revenue generation all over the world. In Ghana it is ranked the third major foreign exchange earner. It is the expectation of the National Commission on Culture that the establishment of the website would go a long way to complement the role of the Ministry of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City towards making tourism the pillar of an economic development.
The various Centres for National Culture, which are the implementing agencies of the Commission, have also not been left out in the national efforts towards the promotion and development of our culture.
What we need now is the commitment of resources to the Commission and its centres/agencies for adequate implementation of programmes to achieve our cultural objectives for nation building.
Source: NCC PUBLIC RELATIONS.
21 April 2006.