Saturday, May 26, 2007
Dearth of the Arts in Ghana
By: MICHAEL AKENOO
Creative imagination in the arts and culture in the Ghanaian context seems to be heading towards demise at the moment.
This sad state of affairs calls for immediate and concerted pragmatic efforts by all to address the situation.
From a critical analysis of the situation, it can be argued that the situation is normal and needs not to raise any alarm.
It is believed that at a certain point in time in the world of creation, especially in the area of fiction writing, there comes a time of dearth period which is followed by a resurrection of vibrant creative activity.
Since time immemorial this has been the trend of creative endeavour in all parts of the civilized world.
Notwithstanding this fact, I dare to question the Ghanaian experience at the moment by critically examining certain factors in the annals of Ghanaian arts and cultural development; and raise an alarm that Ghana is heading to wards doom in this direction.
The first point I will raise is that in the history of the promotion and development of the arts in Ghana, there have not been any great achievements that will convince me beyond any reasonable doubt that the present dearth experienced in the arts and culture is normal and acceptable in the context of world experience!
In many parts of the world, especially in the highly developed world, periodic dearth do occur as a result of long standing brilliant achievements in the development of the arts and culture.
This indeed is a justification of the age old paradoxical maxims “more haste less speed,” “the higher you go the cooler it becomes” .
Since the colonial days through independence up to this time, there is no strong evidence or record to show that the country had once attained great heights in arts and cultural creativity.
However, there is evidence of a beginning of a vibrant period of laying a solid foundation for an upsurge of arts and cultural creativity in the country soon after attaining independence in 1957.
In fact, this period symbolized a bright future for the development of the arts and culture in Ghana, but alas, this momentum was not sustained, and as a result, it was short lived and whittled away.
After the overthrow in 1966 of President Kwame Nkrumah, who was himself a great patron and sponsor of the arts and culture, there was a decline in the promotion and development of the arts and culture of the country; and this situation has persisted up to the present day.
In the 1950s and the 1960s a vibrant atmosphere erupted in arts and culture creativity, and there was keen interest and competitive spirit that prevailed as talented young creative artists such as playwrights, novelists, poets, sculptors and painters emerged on to the scene.
This is the period I will describe as the “teething” period of creative activities in the arts and culture in the history of the country.
This period nurtured and groomed for the present generation an array of Ghana’s most talented and distinguished creative artists like Professor Atuwei Okai, Ayikwei Armah. Professor Kofi Awoonor, Professor Martin Owusu, Dr. Mohammed Ben Abdallah, Professor Ablade Glover etc.
Having produced such a caliber of creative artists, it is sad to not that the country cannot boast of great output of creative material at the moment.
There are two factors responsible for this situation.
The first is audience awareness or respectability for creative works and the second is lack of adequate facilities for publication.
This situation renders Ghana less accomplished in the arts and culture as compared to advanced countries like Britain, U.S., Germany and France.
In order not to see Ghana sink deep into the abyss of non creativity. I will make the following suggestions which I believe will help to put Ghana in a unique position in contemporary creativity.
1. Creativity writing by students in the secondary schools and training colleges should be vigorously revived as it used to be in the 1960s when students wrote articles for publication.
“Talents For Tomorrow”.
2. The teaching of arts and craft should be intensified at the primary, JSS and SSS levels.
3. Sculpture and painting should be seriously given attention at the JSS and SSS levels of our education system.
4. Arts and culture associations should be formed in the country in order to champion the cause for the promotion and development of the arts and culture of the country.
5. The Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture should form special committees to oversee the activities of creative writing, painting and sculptor in the country.
6. The College of Arts at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology should develop an elaborate programme of promoting and developing sculpture and painting in the country.
7. The government should invest heavily in the promotion and development of the arts and culture.
8. A special scholarship scheme should be made available for further training in overseas of young talented and imaginative writers, painters and sculptors.
9. National Competitions among creative Writers, Painters and Sculptors must be held and attractive prizes awarded for excellent creative works.
10. Provision should be made for private participation in national programme to be developed by the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture for the promotion and development of the arts and culture of the country.
The present generation of creative artists in the country should come together to plan how they can pass on their talents to the younger generation.
Ghana has produced world class creative artists and they must not be allowed to wither away and die to create a vacuum for the country.
Finally, I am making an urgent appeal to all Ghanaians in all walks of life to join the band wagon to find a lasting solution to the present dismal state of affairs in Ghana’s exploits in her arts and cultural potential that she had been endowed with so that she can assert herself on the contempory world scene of great achievements.
TIMES WEEKEND - Saturday, May 26, 2007 Page: 14