THE year-long celebration of Ghana's 50th independence anniversary was launched on Sunday by President J.A. Kufuor with a special message for the youth. 'Seize the moment and become worthy citizens of our country,' he told them.
'The future belongs to you,' he said.
Launching the celebration in a New Year message, he said that 50 years ago, he was a teenager looking into the future with great hope and expectation.
Unfortunately, he said the experience had not been half as good as most young people of his generation dreamt it would be. But he said the adults have resolved 'to set things aright and sustain them, so that the path will be easier and smoother for you.'
Noting that the jubilee year is acknowledged everywhere as an auspicious year, the President said that in Biblical terms, 'it is the year the heavens pour out great blessings on favourite nations and now that the nation is at peace with itself, Ghanaians must launch into the jubilee year in a manner expected of people who believe in God's providence.' He said many events have been lined up for the year right from this month including a programme dubbed 'Partnership with Africa Initiative' targeted at the youth, to be held in Accra under the auspices of German President Horst Kohler.
President Kufuor outlined a number of other programmes that have been lined up for the celebration of the 50th anniversary and noted that the participation of key world leaders was an acknowledgement of the 'goodwill for our development and our good governance by much of the world.
He noted that the level of international appreciation should encourage all Ghanaians to share a common vision and move on with confidence in pursuit of a common agenda for the total and accelerated development of the country.
'I invite all of us to reflect on our common heritage and all that unites us,' he said.
President Kufuor said during this year of the Jubilee, Ghanaians 'should be able to celebrate the lives of great achievers of our nation in the areas of statesmanship, education, enterprise and intellectual pursuits.
'We should find in our hearts to engage in positive thoughts that recognise value in each one of us and which encourage us to be each other's keeper. 'This is a sure way to strengthen national cohesion for sustained national development,' he noted.
Recognising that as individuals and groups, there are bound to be differences in opinion, President Kufuor said 'however much we differ on issues, there are moments that should bring us together.'
He identified the celebration of the Golden Jubilee as one such moment that should bring Ghanaians together. 'We should rejoice in the fact that in spite of the many periods of uncertainty and difficulty in the last fifty years, we have managed to pull together as a nation.'
He asked Ghanaians to resolve to draw a line between 'our chequered and unhappy past and a future full of hope, achievement and fellow feeling,' adding that 'with such resolve we cannot fail.'
Among the foreign heads of state to grace the occasion are Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Festus Mogae of Botswana, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.
President Kufuor said the nation should expect to see many heads of sister states and friendly nations on the Africa continent and beyond during the highlight of the celebration in March.
He said the presence of the Africa leaders would be a recognition of Ghana's seminal contribution to the struggle for the liberation of the continent.
Among the other dignitaries expected in March will be the Duke of Kent, whose mother, the Duchess of Kent, deputised for Queen Elizabeth II at Ghana's independence in March 1957.
Prior to the Independence Day, a series of lectures will be delivered by Mr Kofi Annan, immediate past Secretary-General of the United Nations, to herald and commemorate the jubilee.
President Kufuor said the rest of the year will witness other major events including an important global meeting of finance ministers for a conference on 'World Financing for Development.'
In addition to the Republic Day celebration, he said the month of July will see two events, the Summit of the African Union and a major meeting on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of the USA.
'These many events should convince us, as citizens of Ghana that the year 2007 is truly an auspicious year for our nation, a year in which Ghana is being acknowledged with appreciation and goodwill for our development and good governance by much of the world,' he said.
President Kufuor said that the level of international appreciation should unite all Ghanaians to share a common vision and move on with confidence in pursuit of a common agenda for the total and accelerated development of Ghana.
Ghanaians should find in their hearts to engage in positive thoughts that recognise value in everybody and which encourage all to be each other's keeper.