Monday, March 5, 2007
MAKERS OF HISTORY
· Theodosia Okoh, designed National Flag
· Amon Kotei, designed Coat of Arms
· Phillip Gbeho, composed National Anthem
· Pappoe-Thompson, wrote Lyrics of New Anthem
THERE are two major indispensable national emblems that cannot be discounted when it comes to the sovereignty of Ghana.
These are the National Flag and the Coat of Arms.
Another symbol of nationhood is the National Flag although some commentators were fond of reducing the country’s independence to that of a national flag and an anthem.
The Coat of Arms has been an indispensable feature on all national or official documents.
Mrs. Theodosia Salome Okoh who designed the national flag, recalled that there was an advertisement calling for a design of the national flag for the country.
She said the advertisement said “the flag should be original and must have motifs that many nationals can identify with”.
Mrs. Okoh who was born in 1922, said she decided on the three colours of red, gold and green because of the geography of Ghana.
Ghana, she said, lies in the tropics and blessed with rich vegetation.
The colour gold was influenced by the mineral rich nature of our lands and red commemorates those who died or worked for the country’s independence while the green stands for the vegetative cover.
Mrs. Okoh said the five-pointed black star was the symbol of African emancipation and unity in the struggle against colonialism.
Described as the “Joan of Arc” of Ghana hockey, she is one of the many unsung heroines who fought and are still fighting their battles alone.
With many medals to her credit for her role in Ghana’s independence and sports, Mrs. Okoh who is also a renowned artist, is currently living a quiet life at her residence in Accra, where she is doing what she loves best, art.
As part of recognition for what she had done for the nation, in 1992 she received the entertainment Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana (ECRAG) Mahogany award for designing the national flag. In 1996 she received a Grand Medal from the State during the 40th independence celebration of the country. In 1997 she also received the Arts Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana (ACRAG) award for designing the national flag and in 2004 she received an award from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for her role in building a national hockey pitch.
She is the first woman to become the President of the National Sports Association.
A specialist teacher by profession, she was the first certificated female to teach in and around Kukurantumi in the Eastern Region and was, therefore, referred to as “Teacher Awura” (Lady Teacher) by the locals.
Born about 85 years ago to a former Moderator of the Presby Church, Mr. Emmanuel Victor Asihene, and Mrs. Dora Asihene, she said she was inspired by the words in the National Anthem “Yen Ara Ye Asase Ni” by Ephraim Amu when it was advertised in 1956 for people to submit entries for the designing of a national flag.
“I did not receive any monetary or material reward at that time for my effort because there was no award attached to the competition unlike the anthem which had a reward of £100 but which the composer ended up receiving £3,000 as royalties for its use”, Mrs. Okoh said.
However, the first President of the country, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who saw the flag as a better ambassador of the country, promised to reward her with the nation’s highest award but a few months after his promise, he was ousted in a coup d ‘etat and that marked the end of the promise.
Independence Day drew near, the need for a Coat of Arms distinct from that of the imperial power, Great Britain, became acutely felt. To give a distinctive local flavour to the work, a Ghanaian working with the government printer was asked to put up a sketch for consideration. Asked to explain the rationale for the design Amon Kotei said, “I suggested the use of the Eagle because I had read over and over again of the famous Eagle and the Chick story”.
After months of hard work, Mr. Amon Kotei finally completed the drawing. When he compared it to other Coats of Arms, he was convinced that it was one of the best, a view shared by Cpt. Hamilton, the British Officer who liaised between him and the Osu Castle.
Mr. Amon Kotei who designed the Coat of Arms lives at La in Accra.
With words from the Anthem,
I chose the present colours of the Ghana Flag,
that is Red, Gold and Green.
The Coat of Arms can be found on Ghana’s currencies, on both military and police uniforms, the Ghanaian passport, letterheads of some state institutions and diplomatic missions both at home and abroad.
The Coat of Arms is displayed at State functions like the March 6 Independence Parade.
Mr. Amon Kotei was born on May 24, 1915 in Accra. He began his elementary education at Dodowa and continued at Bisa, Apenkwa, and the La Presbyterian Middle School.
A report on the Internet written by Emmanuel Alfred Botchway said during that period, Mr. Amon Kotei lived with his grandfather, David Kotei who was a teacher and catechist.
It is on record that Mr. Amon Kotei was offered scholarship to study at Achimota School due to his brilliant academic performance, particularly in Fine Art.
The report said he enlisted in the Ghana Army and while there Mr. Amon Kotei was given scholarship to study at the London School of Printing and Graphic Art in Great Britain. It said Mr. Amon Kotei returned to Ghana and worked with the Survey Department and later on with the Victoriaborg Press.
The report said the first President in the run-up to Ghana’s Independence, commissioned Amon Kotei to design a National Emblem of Ghana, a task which many today say he discharged with distinction.
In the early morning of March 6, 1957, as the Union Jack was lowered and the Red, Gold, Green Flag of the newly independent country fluttered in the air over the National Assembly building, the country’s National Anthem was warbled by the teeming crowd.
The music for the new anthem which replaced God Bless The Queen which hitherto had been the country’s Anthem, was written by Mr. Phillip Kwami Gheho.
His piece was one of the many entries that had been presented to the National Anthem Selection Committee. For unexplained reasons, the government discarded the original lyrics by Mr. Gheho.
It replaced the one written by the commissioned literary, committee. It was these lyrics that Mr. Gbeho went with as the National Anthem on March 6, 1957.
Mr. Philip Gbeho was born in 1904.
Mr. Gbeho was once a music teacher of Achimota School. The lyrics were changed by in 1966 when the Nkrumah government was overthrown.
Mr. Pappoe-Thompson, wrote lyrics of new Anthem.
Daily Graphic - Monday, March 5, 2007 Page: 13