The yearlong programme to mark Ghana's 50th independence anniversary next year was officially launched in Accra on Thursday with the Government declaring that it would be a historic occasion to unite the country.
'[email protected] is a historic landmark for all Ghanaians and the Government sees the celebrations as presenting a unique opportunity for all of us to build on the things that unite us as a people and a nation', Mr Kwadwo Mpiani, Chief of Staff and Minister of Presidential Affairs, said.
The celebration is under the theme "Championing African Excellence".
The event, which was witnessed by Ministers of state, foreign dignitaries, journalists and the donor community, was to showcase the activities for the 50th anniversary of Ghana, the first African country south of the Sahara to gain independence.
The occasion also marked the 97th birthday of Ghana's First President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who ushered the country into independence on the stroke of midnight on March 6, 1957. The National Planning Committee has earmarked 20 million dollars for the event in addition to a one trillion cedis target from sponsors. Mr Mpiani, who briefed the media on the celebrations, said the allocation of 20 million dollars for the celebrations had raised a lot of noise and taken partisan shape making it appear that the money was to be used for merrymaking.
He said anniversaries and special occasions provided the opportunity for countries to regenerate and modernize their infrastructure adding that this was what the money would be used for. Mr Mpiani, who is Chairman of the National Planning Committee, said though the Government derived its roots from the political tradition that was in opposition to that of Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah, the day was chosen to signify their firm belief in unity.
He said all around the world, there were examples of monuments, buildings, bridges and other physical structures that become landmarks, which could be traced to an event.
Mr Mpiani said when nations spent millions of dollars to bid for the right to stage international sporting events, it was because they wanted to be able to showcase their country and provide themselves the opportunity to make the country worthy of world attention. Mr Mpiani said the 50th anniversary of the first Sub-Saharan country to gain independence should provide a great opportunity to make the nation a showcase of what it wanted to be.
This would be done through the construction of legacy projects to provide the perpetual reminder to present and future generations to contribute to improving the lives of the people. He said Ghana would be in the news for the whole year and would get visitors of all kinds and from everywhere around the world. "If we have the money we should think big and undertake the projects that would become landmarks."
Dr Charles Wereko-Brobbey, Chief Executive of the [email protected] Secretariat, said Ghana championed the fight for Africa's liberation as well as closer economic and social integration of independent countries through the formation of the Organisation of African Unity now African Union.
He said the event, which would be celebrated from January to December 2007, would include rehabilitation and renewal of core infrastructure, especially principal venues and historic monuments, sanitizing and sprucing up the country, improving hospitality facilities and publications and publicity.
There would be public lectures, symposia, exhibitions, documentaries and interviews, concerts, carnivals, parades and sporting events.
He said sponsorship was required for the Golden Jubilee calendar and diary, commemorative stamps and the anniversary cloth among other things, which should be produced in large quantities.