Saturday, July 28, 2007
CULTURE: A Ministry, a Commission,
PNDC illegality & all that …
Kwaw Ansah: we saw it coming
IN last week’s Spectator, we caused a story to publish in which the Hon. Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture, Mr. S. K. Boafo, drew attention to an illegality to the effect that the law establishing the National Commission on Culture contained clauses that made references to the PNDC.
Kwaw Ansah, the filmmaker and member of the NCC Board, reacts to the Minister’s statement, and offers other sources of worry.
Excerpts of his interview with The Spectator are reproduced below. We first asked how come the Board did not see the anomally earlier. To this he said:
“When we the Board came we looked at these clauses and quickly made changes to the law to fix our current dispensation and made changes in the Culture Policy”.
In fact we recognized some of those things which to us were not appropriate for our current dispensation.
Spectator: The policy cannot by itself be law. It has to be an Act of Parliament
Kwaw: We have done our bit, and it is with the Attorney General. It was supposed to have even left the Attorney General’s Department to go cabinet. They made certain changes and it came back.
It came back about two or three times. There were committees set to look at various aspects of the law.
I was on that committee with Professor Nketia and Rev. Dr. Mensa Otabil. Having satisfied ourselves that the right thing has been done, we sent it and it should be with the Attorney General now waiting for the changes to be made.
A Ministry has been created for the Sector. If it is the Commission on Culture they want to abolish, I believe that proper steps should have been taken to abolish it but you don’t come trying to rubbish everybody and everything that has been done as if we could not think.
Spectator: But would you admit that your commission has not been very effective?
Kwaw: Well, definitely I have been one of the people who have actually been speaking on some of these things. Do not forget that on the Commission, most of us are part-time. It has been quite a struggle.
Spectator: Give me three examples of policies or things that you proposed to be done which have either been done or not.
Kwaw: First, let me talk about street naming. As a fact we ought to have a data of achievers of this country and for instance at one meeting I proposed that why don’t we link up with the local authority to name the streets after some of our Ghanaian achievers and we could have for instance about 100 names here, replicate them in Takoradi, Kumasi, instead of using Mango Street, Pawpaw Street, Bougavilea Street, Konkonte Street.
Spectator: Why are they not implemented?
Well, it is the will of our administrators. Because I don’t believe that it is everything that takes money and money is always being used as an example for inaction, yet we have money to print calendars, millions of cedis every year to print calendars, when things that can take about fifteen million cedis is not done. These are some of the issues.
I have argued that to campaign for a change of names say Keybi to Kibi, Komenda to
Ekitakyi Saka Acquaye of blessed memory even wrote to the commission. We deliberated on this and we said it is a good thing. Let’s go back to Sekunde, instead of Sekondi, names have meaning. How can you call Kyebi Kibi because the colonial master wanted to make things easier for himself?
You see, this is part of building a national identity and every name in this country has a meaning.
It is good lament, but what did your board do?
I would say that the permanent administration at the Commission did not actually help the board and I will openly say and I have always had the cause to complain so much because these were noble ideas. I do not think a quarter of it were implemented.
Every member of the board complained. The commission, the problems we have there, when we even discussed is like the board did not really matter.
Spectator: When was the last time the board met?
Kwaw: I would say about 5 months ago. In deed, there was a time when we did not meet for a whole year. We had to really meet with the chairman to ask why we are not meeting and the problem. Always the problem we have was we haven’t had the Vote. It is not everybody who comes there always for the sitting allowance I think the centre did not help the board do its work and I will not blame any board member. The centre itself didn’t help the board.
Spectator: You mean the Commission?
Kwaw: The Commission which is permanently employed, we did once a month to deliberate on issues.
For example, we have discussed the decadent lyrics in our music. When anybody raised this issue the answer is “we are in a democratic country.” Democracy?
Even in France, even in America, if you make a song and they find the lyrics offensive, you will be taken on. How democratic can we be? If we have children, children to take over this country and we see this country drifting into certain quarters that we cannot relate to, how can we put our hearts to rest for the future of this country?
Spectator: But the culture policy was put together. What do you think of it?
Kwaw: I think it a beautiful. Because it was not just put together by the board. We had seminars, for five days in Kumasi. Preceding that, we had three days at DuBois, Centre before coming it public. The idea of a Cultural Policy itself pre-dates either this regime or this board. It took about, shall I say, nine years, nine to 12 years on that cultural policy.
THE SPECTATOR - Saturday, July 28, 2007 Page: 22