Wishing you all a rewarding, peaceful and good health in this 2019 and beyond.
Friday December 7 2018, was observed as a public holiday to honour our farmers. Farmers Day, Founder’s Day, Eid-el-Adha and Eid-el-Fitr are all legacies of the PNDC/NDC and came to meet the already existing ones of the pre and immediate post-independence periods including Independence Day, Republic Day, Christmas Day and the others…Empire Day had quietly folded away with the Union Jack.
December 7 2018 was also the second anniversary of Election 2016, which saw a change in government. The new government was sworn in on January 7 2017 with what some have described as a not-too-auspicious beginning. The inaugural speech was a patchwork of plagiarised stuff and Ghana overnight became the butt of international jokes with the likes of Trevor Noah and other late-night US talk show hosts taking pot shots at us.
Things were not helped much when only a few months later, in March, Ghana celebrated her 60th Independence Anniversary with a clearly plagiarized anniversary logo concept!
The government did not waste time in setting its priorities, which as things were to turn out in those first early months, included making Ghana a base for US forces with some US$20 million compensation. This was highly unpopular and people even took to the streets in protest.
The freshly minted president, in response, took to radio and television to address Ghanaians on the issue and even more inauspiciously, turned his ire against his own compatriots tarring them “Anti-American”! A Ghanaian president vilifying his own people for the glory of another country! That was a first in our history…
The crack in the polity had opened – and so early in the day!
But lurking in the wings was something equally as worrying as the stationing of US troops on our soil. An inspiration, according to the legend justifying it, from the National Cathedral in Washington DC. With its Christocentric trappings, it would be built on prime land in our nation’s capital with the full backing of the government in our secular constitutional environment.
The crack had simply widened with that one. The TUC opposed it, the main Muslim coalition kicked against it and the body responsible for traditional worship added its voice of disapproval and indeed so did the millions of non-religious compatriots. Should this edifice be forced through, it would not be a uniting edifice. It is too Christocentric to appeal to members of other faiths. As a matter of fact, not all the different Christian denominations would put it above their own cathedrals of worship. Certainly not the Catholics! So why this obviously nation-dividing idea? As to the cost and pulling down of habitable buildings for the purpose, that’s another matter altogether…But as 2018 drew to a close, a “fund raising” event was organized by the government to ostensibly raise some of the cash for the purpose. No wonder, all the pledges came from Christian institutions and individuals: No national character there. At the fundraising event, we were told that it was a pledge made to “God” should the NPP presidential candidate win the 2016 elections! The pledge was therefore being redeemed. As for the separation of state and religion, well, it could go to hell! And by the way what are the sources of the funds being pledged and what are the tax and other statutory dispositions of the people making the pledges…? And on a simple matter of theological correctness: Who consecrates this National Cathedral? When the Nicene Creed is recited, would it or would it not include the “Filioque”? Some serious food for thought there…
And since it’s being touted as a national meeting point, would our traditional religions be welcome to perform their rites, including libation pouring, animal offerings, etc? The Wulomos, Okomfos, Tindanbas, etc, are as Ghanaian as any other Ghanaian whose cosmology finds expression in a European-style cathedral…Or perhaps, ab ignition, this National Cathedral is inherently discriminatory and can have no room for those who do not make the sign of the cross… If they will not be allowed, then it cannot have any moral persuasion to claim the accolade of “National”. A divisive undertaking, nothing else! There’s a footnote not to be missed: One of the most “Christian” advocates of the cathedral, a Rev. Owusu Bempah, the spiritual advisor of Nana Addo-Danquah Akufo-Addo now says former President John Dramani Mahama is about to die, claiming that the cathedral would prolong Akufo-Addo’s life! At the time of writing, not a single disclaimer from either Nana Akufo-Addo nor his government. Any wonder that some less charitable critics say the National Cathedral may have occult underpinnings?!
Late 2018, saw yet another divisive initiative put before parliament to abolish our Republic and Africa Union holidays! What?! Republic Day and AU Day to be replaced with a Founders (not Founder’s) Day and a Constitution Day! The idea of Kwame Nkrumah being ennobled as Founder is what seems to be the gall the current dispensation cannot swallow, so the apostrophe goes and the “s” shifts into place! Kwame Nkrumah himself is placated with a commemorative day personal to him but not as the founder.
The abolishing of AU Day equally rankles! For Ghana, the spearhead of African Liberation and establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU) to turn her back on African solidarity is not only embarrassing but a gross dereliction of continental responsibility. How can Ghana hold herself up with pride and dignity in AU matters after this? It was a collective AU decision. In a number of member states, the AU flag flies with the national flag and AU anthem played with the national anthem. How divisive can Ghana be? The declaration to transition from Organization to Union was actually made in Accra in 2003 during the 50th anniversary summit. What a betrayal of trust! Ghanaian diplomats would rightly suffer the contempt of their African colleagues during Africa Group meetings and AU Day celebrations in which Ghanaian diplomats always take (until now) the lead in organizing commemorative events.
Very baffling is the proposed Constitution Day holiday slated for January 7. It has since been imposed! The 1992 Constitution was signed into being on the 8th day of May 1992 and gazette notification given on the 15th day of May 1992. Without being whimsical and capricious, as this imposition is, either of those two dates should be the Constitution Day holiday, that is, if at all necessary! And if we must, why not April 28th, the day of the referendum in 1992 when we said yes to the Constitution?
January 7 1993 was when the first president and parliament of the 4th Republic were inaugurated into office, after elections in December 1992. Appropriately, it is an Inauguration Day! The document that brought that about is rightly referred to as the 1992 Constitution and not the 1993 Constitution! Declaring January 7, a Constitution Day and a national holiday is simply a vexatious and quarrelsome move to divide the nation. In actual fact, January 7 comes into recognition only once in four years – after elections. It has no annual significance and therefore fails to qualify as an annual national day.
The July 1 national holiday, Republic Day, which is being scrapped smacks of revisionist nit-picking at a time when the nation is very much in need of unifying symbols. It is, as every Ghanaian school child knows, the day we broke finally with Britain as our head of state. Though referred to as the 1st Republic, it is significantly different from the other so-called Republics, including the current one, whose main claim to fame is that they emerged from periods of military rule. July 1 1960 is therefore as relevant and sacred in our history as March 6 1957 is…
As if not content with trying to re-write Ghana’s history with these datelines juggling, the visit of Prince Charles to Ghana also in late 2018, had the Ghanaian Government proclaiming and celebrating the visit as one of “shared history”. Shared history of slavery and colonialism? After the struggle for independence which we achieved on March 6 1957 and three years later becoming a Republic on July 1 1960, sixty years of independence, down the line, it is slavery and colonialism that we are extolling and turning our back on “…the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked to the total liberation of the African continent…”
This programme of revising Ghana’s history comes across as an agenda to simply disunite the country and perhaps even the continent. The current Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Ocquaye in a series of lectures tried to establish why the 4th of August 1947 is as significant or more significant than 6th of March 1957 – all with the aim of promoting J. B. Danquah and Co and denigrating Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Not forgetting an earlier attempt to rename the University of Ghana, after J.B.Danquah. The highly principled and patriotic resistance to all these revisionist attempts halted that particular agenda, but as it is turning out, not permanently, for this 2-year old government, heading to parliament, hopes it can use numbers to force its divisive stratagems through. Ghana is dangerously becoming a house dividing and as 2019 unfurls, the prognosis is not an encouraging one. I will not go as far as young Mr. Kevin Taylor to describe Ghana as a failed state – no, not even a failing state, but before long we will be very polarised along unacceptable political, ethnic, religious and economic divides as to create the trajectories leading to Mr. Taylor’s Armageddon. An ominous foretaste was the viral video of machete wielding youngsters going after Rev Owusu Bempah’s signages this week…
Frightening, very frightening…
Commentary by Oli A. Rahman