Monday, April 30, 2007
The illusion and reality of nationhood
By: FELIX P. QUANSAR
UNTIL our 50th anniversary celebration one was certain to have mentioned three symbols of Ghana as the National Anthem, the National Flag and the National Coat of Arms. Furthermore, one would have argued that the cardinal symbol of Ghana’s nationhood and the core foundation of our national authority is the National Coat of Arms, “Freedom and Justice”.
Surprisingly, at the jubilee celebrations, the National Coat of Arms was markedly missing from our celebrations. The symbol that represented our independence, the freedom and the end of injustice, was completely ignored. This is the Symbol of Ghana and the Mark of National Authority. Was this an unintended act of omission or a purposeful act of omission?
Like our independence occasion, the 50th celebration could have been another opportunity to remind ourselves that we are “the People of a nation, Ghana, with one Destiny”, an opportunity to re-adorned our much revered symbol to re-ignite the nationalism of the Ghanaian people as “one nation, one people with one destiny” at 50 years! It is about time for national renewal and the realization as a nation with a common destiny; a time of national reflection and a time to affirm the Ghanaian dedication, committed and patriotism.
Inevitably, nationalism has dwindled, personal interest far surpasses national interest. It was, therefore, not surprising that on the very day of our 50th anniversary, on a morning show on a local television network, the guest, who is frequently on such programmes, stated “one nation, one country, whatever”. For me this was surely a dark moment and very unfortunate stain to our nationalism. I am saying what could have been an excellent opportunity to rekindle our nationalism and consolidate our nationhood has just passed by and probably, been wasted.
Photographs of presidents and “national heroes” flanked the streets and buses all over, instead of national symbols and patriotic words as some districts portrayed. We could have re-adorned our revered symbol, the National Coat of Arms with the inspiring inscription “One Nation, One People, One Destiny”, in celebration of nationhood, the people being still together as a nation; having strived to achieve and maintain peace and stability. Rather then celebrating leadership; it is the Ghanaian, the man on the street, who has made immense sacrifices and tolerance to keep the nation intact and not leadership.
What is nationhood? Is nationhood about the people or about “national heroes”? Why are we emphasizing honouring national heroes and not rather saying a huge “Ayekoo” to the Ghanaian? In many cases leadership has divided the people and probably disillusioned them to fight against each other. Whiles the leaders never engage in fights, the people fight and kill each other.
The reality of nationhood is the dedication and commitment of the people as a people of a nation and never the dedication of leadership of a nation. Celebrating leadership, especially at this time of our nation’s life is illusionary to nationhood, “Ghana is fifty years” not the presidency, the democracy or the revolution.
So, why have we as a nation not celebrated the “Ordinary Ghanaian” to reawaken the sense of belonging and commitment to being part of making Ghana a great nation? At 50, it is definitely not the time for heroes. After all the “national heroes’ have been celebrated and honoured all these years with national honours and awards such as the Order of the Volta and naming prominent facilities and locations after them.
When are we saying “Ayekoo” to the Ghanaian who has through the years tightened his belt and still continues to tighten his/her belt to make Ghana a better place for generations to come? How mush in true spirit has leadership sacrificed? A good leadership without committed people is more likely to fail whiles a nation with committed people but without good leadership is more likely to progress. This is the reality of nationhood.
“Proud to be Ghanaian” is an attempt to whip up nationalism. Unfortunately this is not as appropriate at this time as it was for the world cup. The demand for total reorientation of our nationalism cannot be overemphasized. While personal interest far surpasses national interest, the people as a nation are considerably polarized along tribal and political lines. The people as a nation are consciously and unconsciously bleeding Ghana in one form or the other. Where is the basis of our pride then when nationalism has dwindled so much? We profess nationalism and act otherwise.
Common Justice for all has still not been a reality 50 years after our freedom. We fought against injustice and we were granted independence. We were only granted freedom and we as a nation are to realize and maintain justice for all. Can we proudly claim justice for all?
Millions of Ghanaians are marginalized and deprived of very basic amenities. Maybe justice no longer has any significance or has become trivial to us as a people so 50 years down the line we only declare freedom, freedom and freedom. What has suddenly become of the justice we fought for? Can we remind ourselves of the demand for justice for all Justice, justice and justice.
Finally, and not the least, it has been very difficult for some of us to place the theme of the celebration “Championing African Excellence”. First, where does this fit into the concept of nationhood and consolidation of nationalism? Second, what is “African Excellence? Is there European Excellence, American or Asian Excellence and Global Excellence? Did we rather mean “Championing Excellence in Africa or indeed Championing a Sixth Class Excellence in this globalised era? Ghana @ 50?
- The writer is an international technology planner.
Daily Graphic - Monday, April 30, 2007. Page: 32