On May 4th of this year Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, First president of Zambia gave a speech at the Institute of African Development Speaker Series at Cornell University in New York, on “Democratization, Development, and the Challenges of Africa”. I was not able to attend but I had the opportunity of reading the speech which was full of insight and enlightenment. I found very revealing his description of democracy as “a living process …….enhanced or constrained by systems and practices found in a society”. In his explanation Africa Democracy then becomes difficult to develop and grow as result of the physical geography linked to population, population itself, ethnic diversity, cultures, religion, language, colonial links and political systems. My intention certainly is not to dissect these factors or to describe their revelation as vogue. This reasoning has been promoted before but the dimension that Dr. Kaunda explores is that because Democracy is a living process, its developments will be severely affected by these living conditions which affect many African societies. Having digested this dynamic, it dawned on me that if these factors were living conditions we face a very severe test in developing our fragile democracy and to make any dent towards that realization we needed to be very creative and dynamic in our approach. In my mind one approach is to do a Sankofa on Ghanaian Patriotism. On Independence Day in 1957, the euphoria that greeted Ghanaians was I believe an overwhelming experience of freedom, pride, independence and identity. Despite the divisions that existed before 6th March 1957, many Ghanaians on that night felt one thing, that they were proud to be Ghanaians. During Nkrumah’s presidency he instilled pride in the Ghanaian identity targeting the primary and secondary schools through the schools’ curriculum. Students learnt more about their nation, their history, leadership, and their past was made a source of pride for them. Every school had to go and salute the flag and sing the national anthem in the morning before classes began. These were very effective because children are impressionable at that early stage, it is simply indoctrination. I remember when I was in primary school in the early part of the 80’s this was a very important feature of our education but it was fading away. The basis of returning to patriotic values is that it attacks the divisions that afflict our society, whether it is religion, ethnicity or politics. If our children are educated to be proud of their country from an early stage the likelihood is that they would always see things in the betterment of the nation. Americans are very effective in indoctrination, from an early age children know about their past leaders, their history, respect for their nation and flag; they learn to cherish their institutions and learn to do things for the love of their country. Obviously it’s easier to accept the greatness of your nation if it’s a superpower but it is not the most important ingredient. The most important ingredient is teaching a child to learn to accept who he/she is as they grow up and to aspire to help uplift their nation when they grow up. It requires a very deliberate and carefully orchestrated plan to achieve that result. It cannot be taken lightly, it is not diabolic or damaging, and it must rest on truth and nothing else. The future generation of Ghana has been fed on America and Europe so much that most of us are more loyal to these territories than to our own nation. History, politics, the rule of law, social sciences must become a regular feature of our curriculum in primary and secondary schools in varying degrees. There is one unifying force that will help develop our democracy and it is patriotism. We have to go back to the little things that we did that reminded us that we were Ghanaians, singing the national anthem, saluting the flag, history lessons, including our most recent history. Ghanaians should not just bring out their flags when there is a football match, it is not only government institutions who should have a flag in their offices, private institutions should demonstrate their loyalty to the flag but putting it in their offices, churches. It is should be a government agenda in consultation with civil society as government continues to have the infrastructure to undertake such a comprehensive program. Let us remind ourselves at all times that we are Ghanaians first and that we are proud of it. It is an aspiration worth pursuing; it is about time we did a Sankofa on Patriotism. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.
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