Thursday February 15, 2007 was earmarked and indeed observed as a day when all Ghanaians must start hoisting the national flag as part of activities marking the country's 50th anniversary celebration.
The campaign dubbed 'rally round the flag' was supposed to whip up enthusiasm and a sense of nationalism in all Ghanaians, an act of pride being a Ghanaian.
Bu compared to the national eruption of euphoria and pride during last summers football mundial in Germany, Ghanaians were at best asleep last Thursday, with many openly declaring that they did not know what it was all about.
In other parts of the country outside Accra, it almost appeared as though they were on a different planet, with some making references that suggest the celebration is just an Accra thing.
A tour by the dailyEXPRESS team through some principal streets of Accra did not show any visible sign of the flag being enthusiastically flown. Though intended to rally all Ghanaians and begin the colourful display of the Red, Gold, Green with Black flags, only a few vehicles, commercial premises with almost no household hanging the flags on their buildings.
There were still more Accra Hearts of Oak and Kotoko flags flying in homes more than the national flag. The street vendors though had different designs of bandanas and other items in the national colours on sale.
The market women at Makola, Agbogbloshie, Mallam-Atta, Kaneshie, Madina and elsewhere, who were seen cheerfully dressed in the national colours during the 2006 FIFA World Cup in support of the Black Stars also failed to buy into this activity on this 'memorable' day.
An apparently planned float through the streets of Accra to climax at the Independence Square came off, but not without its own problems. Patronage was so low; some school children who were bussed to the Square told journalists that they were rushed out of their classrooms to the venue.
By mid-day, the Independence Square had been populated by a few hundred primary and junior secondary school children. A conservative estimate of about five hundred pupils carrying and waving the miniature flags amidst singing.
Quite unusual but not surprising, the school kids had no patriotic songs to sing on this special occasion other than making senseless shouts, indicating the obvious lack of preparation for the programme.
Most of them at a point begun singing a popular 'jama' song “Canaan, Canaan…me ye den na mako Canaan?” amidst shouts from officials of the Ghana @50 secretariat that they should stop and sing songs about Ghana. This could only be an indication of the kids' lack of proper preparation and explanation for their gathering under the blazing sun.
Another low side of the event was the inability to organize a successful float. Only one Metro Mass Transit Bus carrying not more than twenty (20) people and one trailer, beautifully decorated in the national colours and [email protected] logo, with a few young men and women on board dancing to loud music from the National Supporters Union.
In other parts of the city however, demonstrating students of the University of Ghana carried their flags during the demo to protest the insecurity on campus.
But unlike other activities organized by the Secretariat, the 'rally round the flag' campaign was well promoted in the electronic and some print media.
So why did this campaign also experience the apparent lack of public enthusiasm? Why the extreme apathy to the anniversary activities so far? Should the Dr. Charles Wereko Brobbey led secretariat be blamed for this one too?
Regardless of the poor response, Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, Chief of Staff Kwadwo Mpiani and other ministers of state with support from Mrs. Theodosia Okoh who designed the national flag were at the Independence Square to witness the event.
Waving a miniature flag in excitement, but obviously disappointed at the low patronage of the event, the Vice President urged all Ghanaians to be patriotic and actively participate in the anniversary activities.
“Lets us all be patriotic. This country belongs to all of us. Let us all see ourselves as one people, participate in the anniversary celebration, and make sure that we all go together so that we can all lead this country to prosperity,” the Vice President said.
Mrs. Theodosia Okoh explained the philosophy behind her work saying, “through this flag the whole country will be united. So let us all unite to the end, so that the prophesy for Ghana will be fulfilled one day.”
The dailyEXPRESS spoke to some journalists who were at the Independence Square.
Betty Dowuona- Hamond of TV3 Network:
I think in a way, it has been successful. I have gone round town and I saw people flying their flags and others dressed in our national colours, and most people seem to know about the occasion. Publicity was well done, and people really know exactly what is really happening.
Dzifa Azumah- Ghana News Agency
You could see the excitement, you could see the joy, both the adults and the school children in raising the flag, they were all happy. You see that people have pride in the flag. I think its something that should be continued.
Daily Statesman's reporter
“Judging by the attendance, I don't think so. I can only see school children and I have been wondering why the school children and they came in their buses, so I thought may be they went to pick them. To my knowledge I don't think it was successful. I don't think it's encouraging.”