Community and National Awards Days/Nights are often initiated and organized periodically to recognize hard work and to celebrate excellence in the society. On the national front, Farmers’ Day, Teachers’ Day, ECRAG and Media Awards, to mention just a few, are some of the organized awards ceremonies that come to mind when I think of Ghana. In Canada, most of the various ethnic communities have put in place annually awards to identify and reward the hard work of professionals, individuals and cultural/religious groups who are contributing immensely to the development of their communities in particular and to the Canadian society as a whole. The Big Question and Personal Experience: What are the benefits of community/national awards to those who receive them and the majority of the society? This question keeps staring me at the face whenever I hear of community or national awards days/nights. The school community in Ghana was my first experience of community awards. There were these Speech and Prize Giving Days during which the excellence and hard work of individual students, mostly at the Secondary School and College levels, were recognized. I should think such days are still marked by many schools and colleges in Ghana today. I got to the university and became a recipient of 3 Mobile Awards at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana during my final year. I had opportunity to watch for the first time the Mobile Awards Day at KNUST when I was in my first year at the university. And, undoubtedly, that inspired and spurred me on to hard work throughout my studies at the university which finally made me a proud recipients of the same awards I had watched some students before me take away. Thus, the hardworking students who received the awards before me became my role models and source of inspiration. How true! Impact of Community Awards: The scale and inclusive nature of community awards set them apart from other awards given by schools and establishments/institutions. They are broad in their selections and inclusive in the categories of awards. The Ghanaian Community in Canada has had 3 community awards nights hosted by The Ghanaian News in Toronto that is the world’s most culturally diverse city. It’s dubbed “Ghanaian Canadian Achievement Awards.” Of primary relevance to the development of the Ghanaian community in Canada is the impact that the Ghanaian Canadian Achievement Awards are making on our youth. During the recent Awards Night in Toronto, it was revealed by the organizers that the youth who were honored in the two previous Awards Nights are soaring to success in their various fields of endeavor /studies. They have become role models to their peers and younger brothers and sisters in our community. It could be argued therefore that community awards if well organized and widely publicized for great patronage by the community would provide excellent opportunity for showcasing role models in the community. Especially for our youth! Another obvious impact of well organized community awards ceremony anywhere is in the domain of culture. I therefore could not but agree with His Excellency, Mr. Samuel A. Odoi-Sykes, Ghana’s High Commissioner to Ghana for emphasizing the importance of culture in his address at the 3rd Annual Ghanaian Canadian Achievement Awards Night held recently in Toronto. He praised the organizers for recognizing cultural promotion and religion as “identifiable” categories for awards. Undoubtedly, Ghana has a rich and presentable culture that we must all seek to protect, preserve and promote wherever we are. Even in our adopted countries around the world! If honesty, truthfulness, humility, brotherly love and respect for the elderly which, are some of the pre-eminent values of Ghanaian culture are not to be sacrificed at the altar of modernization then the Ghanaian community in Diaspora must strive to inculcate in our YOUTH “these noble virtues of our way of life.” With all apologies to His Excellency, Mr. Odoi-Sykes. More recently, I have had the opportunity to learn that community awards if properly organized and well attended become avenues for showcasing the noble virtues of life. We therefore ought to support community awards wherever they are organized. Joe Kingsley Eyiah, Teacher of Brookview Middle School, Toronto.
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