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20.11.2006 Feature Article

PREPARING TOWARDS OUR 50TH ANNIVERSARY

PREPARING TOWARDS OUR 50TH ANNIVERSARY
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There are many events in a person's life the success or otherwise of which may depend so much on timing that in preparing towards them it is absolutely essential that careful consideration be given to the choice of the date. Depending on which region of the world you may be living in you may, in fact, be constrained to schedule some particular types of events in certain seasons only. Therefore, if you're living in Europe, for example, and you decided to organise an open-air concert in Winter you should not expect to find any sponsors. And this, I believe, is the reason why the soccer World Cup tournament is held only in the Summer. In the same vein, I quite recall that in my youthful days, when 'Concert Parties' and Guitar Bands (oh where are all of them now – E.K.'s, J.J.'s, K.K.'s, Kaikaiku's and the rest?) used to tour the rural areas they did so mostly in the 'dry' season.

But while a person is at liberty to choose a convenient date for his/her marriage, child's out-dooring and even the funeral of a relative he/she cannot change the day on which his/her birthday falls. And the situation is even more straight forward when it comes to national days. So everybody knows that 6th March, 1st October, 1st August are national days of Ghana, Nigeria and Switzerland respectively and are public holidays.

Some Anniversaries Are Special

For reasons not particularly difficult to appreciate some anniversaries are more special than others whether for an individual or a nation. So while some people may even forget the day they turn 27 or 34, it's quite unlikely that anyone will forget the day he/she turns 50. After all, it is 'golden', and in the life of even a nation, it is still quite significant considering that by the time we reach 100 not many of those who witnessed our birth as a nation would still be around!

And indeed for reasons explained above it is expected that much more elaborate programmes are being planned for our up-coming 50th anniversary than they were for our 37th or 43rd anniversary, for example. But can we sincerely say that the preparations so far are enough to ensure that come Tuesday, 6th March 2007 our specially made party dress would be ready to put on? In asking this question I'm well aware of the saying that it's easier said than done. Therefore, I have no doubt that those who are responsible for organising the programme of activities will boldly say “no problem, everything is under control”. One factor though which may go against us as far as this question is concerned is that unlike hosting an international sporting event like the Africa Cup of Nations or World Cup there is no risk of the event being taken from us and given to another country. In other words, there are no Inspection Teams to impress. And that's precisely where the problem lies.

Perhaps we have some fantastic contractors who we can rely on to build fresh accommodation for visiting Heads of State in four months but may I ask if we had any good reason to put ourselves under such unnecessary pressure? For example, the last time I read about it an Accra Fast Track High Court had set 22nd November for the hearing of a motion in which Nii Kpobi Tettey Tsuru III, La Mantse, is seeking to restrain the government from developing a piece of land at La, Accra, for this particular project. So if under the current culture of respect for the rule of law, the La Mantse wins the case what happens? Do we go and try our luck on a piece of land lying somewhere on the Accra Plains and which is not owned by anyone? Meanwhile since 7th March 1957 we have always known that we would be celebrating our 50th anniversary on Tuesday, 6th March 2007!

Long-Term Planning

We all see from the organisation of major international events the benefits of long-term, advance planning. It is surely not for nothing that the hosts for the 2012 Summer Games, for example, was chosen in 2005 i.e. seven clear years in advance. Even closer home, it is known that Libya will host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2014 after Angola in 2010, and Gabon/Equatorial Guinea in 2012. And it is significant to note that before a country is awarded the right to host any major tournament it must first have shown a plan of how it intends to build the facilities for the event. Compare this to the situation where Planning Committees for our Golden Jubilee in March 2007 were still being inaugurated as recently as July this year.

How much time do these committees have, between now and March next year, not only to draw up plans but more importantly to ensure that the plans so drawn would be perfectly executed in time for the occasion? At the end of the day we shall only find ourselves in a take-it-or-leave-it situation where we shall be left with no option but to accept whatever shoddy work is presented to us because there would be no time to correct any deficiencies. We have heard it being argued that the celebration is not a one-day event and as such facilities being planned are not intended for use on 6th March 2007 only. Sure indeed, but did we have to put ourselves in a situation where it is very likely that by the anniversary day work would still be going on on some of the facilities put up for the occasion? As a matter of fact one would have expected that some of the activities marking the celebration would actually start some months in advance to be climaxed on the 6th March itself. But here we are now, in the third week of November, with only a faint idea of some of the facilities the US$20,000.00 is going to be used to build.

Marketing and Sponsorship

Thanks to easy access to information we are all witnesses to the huge role sponsorship and effective marketing strategies play in the organisation of major events in other parts of the world to ensure their success. Now here we are still fighting over whether or not we should spend US$20 million on an event which is due in barely three months. Meanwhile in other countries potential sponsors would be fighting to outdo one another more than a year in advance of an event like this. But of course that happens only when a favourable enough environment is created to attract sponsors.

Sale of Souvenir Items

We all recall how much various items in the national colours of participating countries in the last world cup were in demand all over the world. I for one didn't have to travel to Ghana before I could buy my Black Stars jersey; like those of all other participating countries it was available right here in the local sports shop. But where do I find a souvenir item of Ghana's Golden Jubilee? Please don't tell me to contact the Ghana Embassy in Bern, because the last time I checked there wasn't even a promotional poster about the anniversary. Incidentally, 10 years ago, some weeks before our 40th anniversary, word went round that a souvenir cloth of the occasion would be available for sale at the Embassy. By the time of the official Reception on 6th March 1997, however no such cloth was available for sale. On this note, therefore, I take this opportunity to remind our leaders, both current and future, that our 60th anniversary (Diamond Jubilee) will fall on Monday, 6th March 2017! I therefore sincerely hope that by that time we shall do things differently.

Kwame Twumasi-Fofie
Kwame Twumasi-Fofie, © 2006

The author has 46 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KwameTwumasiFofie

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