The [email protected] celebrations have started but without the expected fun fair. The poor start of the celebrations with a 'Rally round the flag' program that failed to click, has confirmed initial fears that the anniversary secretariat will not be able to effectively plan and execute a successful golden jubilee celebration.
Apart from the apparent lack of clarity on the specific activities, even senior officials of the Secretariat appear unaware of the details of the events advertised.
The official website for the celebration, www.ghana50.gov.gh has an advertised list of events, and at our last check on Friday, there is an event on virtually every day of the jubilee year. Surprisingly, even staff of the Secretariat don't know this.
Our observations, monitoring and interactions since the 1st of January has led to a dailyEXPRESS conclusion that the jubilee campaign has not started well. Officials of the secretariat however believe otherwise. An official told this paper that it is too early to say their programmes have already failed.
According to them, the momentum is gradually building and they believe by March, the euphoria will be earth-shattering.
Monday January 8, 2007 was advertised, rather belatedly as a day for all citizens to hoist the national flags. Compared to the successful and nationwide display and hoisting of the red, gold, green flags during the world cup campaign, the [email protected] Rally round the Flag event was a massive failure.
Poor marketing communication strategies and event management combined to ensure a resounding failure, to the extent that not only were the generality of Ghanaians unaware of the event but even government institutions did not know, let alone remember to fly the flags.
There were no flags and there are still no flags flying. The Secretariat's Director of Public Affairs Henry Okine in an attempt to defend the failure of this event said the flag hoisting event is a year round program. But the advertisement promotes it as a one-day event.
Another event that has failed is the advertised photo exhibition day slated for January 10. The event though advertised on the official website is not recorded in the press adverts. But there was no such event.
Speaking to Mr. Okine, he told this paper that he is not aware of the program, promising that he'll get further details on the program.
With the celebrations started, the Secretariat is still searching for ideas on how to mark the Independence Day. Since the beginning of this week, they have been asking and begging Ghanaians born on March 6, 1957 to come forward and submit copies of their birth certificates to the secretariat by January 31.
That is obviously a new addition to the proposed activities, and according to Mr. Okine the rationale is to identify, recognize and acknowledge Ghanaians with the same birth date as country Ghana.
“Ghana's Independence Day is an important day in the history of the nation and we think it is right to recognize and celebrate all those born on that day”, he says.
Asked what specific packages will be available for the birthday celebrants, Mr. Okine said “we want to bring them together, probably give them special certificates to commemorate their birthdays and Ghana's birthday. We will dine, share bottles, and dance with them and Ghana”.
A radio and television commercial is currently running on all the TV and some radio stations with young men and women in T-shirts dancing and shouting. A critical content analysis will however confirm to you that nothing is been communicated.
There's no information or promotional message in the commercial but noise, and very clear to the casual observer that the commercial is not making any impact on the potential target.
Mr. Okine surprisingly told this paper that contrary to the popular perception, all the activities and commercials are having the needed impact.
“We believe the commercials are having a lot of impact. That is the beginning. We will keep modifying it as time goes on”, Mr. Okine added.