Dear Commander in chief of Ghana’s armed forces,
I woke up from my slumber this morning and just realized that tomorrow is the 6th of March, which marks Ghana’s Independence Day. Your excellency, with just a few hours to the celebration of the 61st birthday of our nation, I think a congratulation to you and I will not be out of order. Writing to you from the land of your colonial master, I am full of joy and can’t wait to tell my friends about the significance of the 6th of March in the life of a Ghanaian like me. Indeed, this is the most important day in the political history of our country which we are all excited to witness every passing year so long as we are alive.
This day deserves the joy and celebrations of all kind from the length and breadth of Ghana. As expected of every president, I guess you are feverishly rehearsing your speech if it has been written for you already or you are busily editing it if you wrote it yourself.
Sir, whiles I thought about this year’s Independence Day anniversary and how to tell the history of mother Ghana to my newly found British, American, Canadian, Russian, Switz, Hungarian, Slovakian, Iranian, Saudi and others, it also occurred to me to ask myself whether or not this day should only witness school children’s march pass, acrobatic display from the military, long whining speeches from our presidents and the display of our armoury every year
I was dumfounded in a discussion with a level four hundred student of a prominent university in Ghana as recent as August 2017, when the said student asked me how come we have not yet had a fifth republic since 1992, and that it had been too long. Uncharacteristic of me, I did not laugh after the fellow finished. I rather took my time to explain to her what a republic meant and why we have had four different republics. Upon a reflection over my friend’s question the next morning, I did not blame her ignorance neither did I fault her for not knowing. Rather, I thought of the need to make available very well-researched historical documents on Ghana so that university students will not be asking such basic questions.
History of the struggle for our nation’s independence which is more or less retold on the 6th of March every year reminds and redirects my attention to question the original reason behind the move by our forebears to attain independence When infrastructural and human development recedes in favor of an annual grandiose celebration of independence and fun fare .
Sir, following on from the discussion between my friend and I, on why we have not yet had a fifth republic, I conceived the idea that in lieu of an annual Independence Day celebration, the nation must expend the planned budget on putting up 2-storey libraries in at least thirty-nine constituencies in the next thirty-nine years when we as a country would be a century old.
Mr. president, many were the prominent figures who actively participated in our struggle for political and economic independence, but it is only a few whose influence is acknowledged so centrally on these terms. By way of honouring these heroes and heroines who have gone unrecognized in history, your government I think should make conscious efforts to build these community libraries and name them after the “forgotten heroes” of our independence struggle who have not been honoured in any way.
In the libraries, we should make a deliberate attempt to stock at least one floor with books and relevant documents on the history of Ghana. Through this, the libraries will serve as very useful places for students, foreigners, and people who have little knowledge about Ghana’s independence.
Alternatively, if we feel there is no need for building libraries, we could decide to use the expenditure for these yearly celebrations to build hospitals across the nation. This is possible when the nation decides to make available funding for the celebration each but direct those funds into building hospitals. Definitely the budget for one year may not be enough to build one hospital, so it will be necessary to spend the budget for 2 celebrations on such projects. By doing this, Ghana stands the chance to add 18 hospitals to the existing ones by 2057 when we will be celebrating hundred years of independence from the colonial master.
Admittedly, it is beautiful to show our culture and bravery to the world every 6th March, but it is needless to spend on beauty at the time when we have few libraries from which citizens can access relevant information on the history of and that culture we want to show of our noble country.
Situating libraries in thirty-nine constituencies in our country will greatly help in producing an informed citizenry on the history of our dear nation. By doing this your government and successive ones will not only be adding to the educational infrastructure, but it will also be a means of stoking patriotism in pupils and students who read the provided literature in these libraries.
The beauty of seeing school children sing and march pass, the military and other security services display and yourself cladded in an indigenous Ghanaian outfit is certainly splendid and worth watching on television every year. But it is important to pause and have an introspection over these yearly celebrations, after which you will realize that since Nkrumah’s speech in 1957, many have been crafted and delivered up until your era as president and surely, after you are gone, many others will come and serve as president and will continue to give long whining speeches on our independence.
SOAS, University of London