All too soon, another Independence Day beckons. Parades will be held. Guns will be fired. Flames will be lit. Salutes will be given. Speeches will be read.
Celebrations will be held. And we will bid goodbye to Independence Day 2019, only to gather next year to repeat the same ritual if the good Lord gives us life and health.
We’ve been wondering—aren’t there other ways to celebrate this day? Here, we present certain ideas as to how to better celebrate Independence Day.
Cancel the parades
Yes we know there’s something nostalgic about those parades. And there’s just something about seeing the school kids march past the flag and the security services dress immaculately while engaging in all sorts of gymnastics and acrobatics. The music from the brass band, we must admit, is also good. However, there is something colonial about the Independence Day parade too. The parades are a post-colonial relic that must be done away with because they perpetuate notions of hegemony. Yes, it is more about celebrating the efforts of our for-bearers but there should be better ways of recognizing their efforts than simply marching every 6th March. While at it, I’m sure we could save some time, money and energy
National values town-halls or forums/assemblies
A better way to pay homage to our forefathers for their valor and sacrifice is through our lives and attitudes rather than simply marching once every year. If we truly love our country, if we truly desire for a great awakening, if we want to be truly independent, we have to think about using Independence Day to fundamentally contribute to revolutionizing our way of life, attitudes and governance than simply organizing cook outs or going to the beach. These gatherings will help us decide what values are important to use, how we can deepen such values and talk about creating an enduring national identity.
We can also use these communal gatherings to discuss issues of importance in our communities. At these meetings we could also talk what the national vision should be and what the Ghanaian dream should be. It may not seem apparent but a change in attitude, mind-set and an emboldened sense of identity is critical to transforming our nation. A great sense of identity would ignite a sense of confidence and lead to a mental change that will put us in charge at the center of our own destiny. In other words, this will feed directly into the government’s plans for a “Ghana Beyond Aid”.
Share Ghanaian success stories
Success is infectious and inspiring. Let’s use this occasion to celebrate present day Ghanaian success stories. Now in 2019, there are several Ghanaians who are driving for Ghana’s development in their own ways. We normally celebrate Ghanaian heroes during this period but it’s time for us to celebrate more modern day Ghanaian achievers. Let’s point out Ghanaians who are doing well in their chosen professions that we know personally. This ensures we are taking note of progress being made and are near such success. This would drive us to individually do better as well.
We used to say we were not celebrating successes enough. Now, there are lots of awards celebrating achievement in Ghana. However, we see award organizers selling awards to the highest bidder and others buying recognition. This is unethical and we must do things these right. Let us publicly acclaim great things around us and showcase small successes in spite of daunting odds. We would be giving ourselves less excuses for why we are not succeeding. It would bode well for our confidence as people and we would stop looking down at ourselves too much of the time. Some Ghanaians ask around March 6, “What are we celebrating?” If we pinpoint people and places to celebrate near us, we would inspire ourselves to do more.
Buy our own: consciously buying solely “made in Ghana” products
Ghana has grown over the years economically, especially through 25 years of stable democratic rule. The macroeconomic numbers could be better and the cedi devaluation has been undefeated through the years. It is important for us to buy made in Ghana products and have more confidence in the cedi as a nation. If we can create better demand for local products, we can help control the amounts of imports into Ghana while giving local producers the confidence and urge to supply more.
Particularly in Ghana, many businesses here are owned by Ghanaians. We must endeavour to buy more local products and produce. On the occasion of our independence day celebration, Ghanaians should buy things we have made and continue to make. We need to ensure as many Ghanaians have good basic income. This can be driven by citizens patronising more local products, giving great feedback and support for the things we collectively make to be better.
Celebrate other tribes/ethnicities
Secondary school education has been a great way for Ghanaians to experience different parts of Ghana and be introduced to other Ghanaian tribes and cultures. It is one thing that many scholars outside Ghana celebrate about our dear nation. Various policies have helped Ghanaians mix and become more aware of our nation’s history, cultures, and nuances. Elections, partisan, politics other things have seemed to divide us along tribal lines. We like to joke and troll a lot and that has lent itself for further cultural divides. In the spirit of celebrating Ghana, let us praise what we love about other tribes that are not ‘ours’. Let us show our knowledge of other parts of Ghana and what we adore about those places.
This should spur more domestic tourism as we discuss and demonstrate our collective heritage. Many Ghanaians, especially youth, have hardly been to their hometowns. This must change as we must take pride in where we are from and contribute more to develop these places. This would check rural-urban migration. We should not limit our love to our hometowns and our families. There are many communities in Ghana that can benefit from our skills. To appreciate these places more, we must discover what is great about them. It improves our worldview and makes us more enlightened. We must embrace Ghana as a melting pot and must showcase, enjoy and benefit from that is within it.
National empowerment and skills training day
Though 21st September is often celebrated as national volunteer day, Independence Day should also spur acts of patriotism. Let’s each find something to do or give back to society on such a day. The options are varying: organize free skills training and vocational programs, empower a young person with a skill, volunteer in the community, cater for the homeless or engage in any special ac of patriotism. Of course Independence Day is not the only day to feel patriotic but we can do something even more special on such a day than simply organizing parades.
Written by Etse Sikanku of the Center for Public Discourse Analysis and Ato Ulzen-Appiah of the GhanaThink Foundation