Rawlings: Celebrate Christmas in peace and unity
Former President Jerry Rawlings has cautioned Ghanaians to moderate their celebrations of the yuletide, and also make the best of the opportunity to elect a new leader.
A statement he signed and released by his office counseled Ghanaians again not to discount the religious relevance of the occasion but to thank God for seeing the nation through a difficult year and for His abundant blessings.
“It is important that we recognise the religious significance not only of the occasion but also of the particular period of the year. God being so magnanimous has taken us through to the end of the year and we need not mock His generosity by abusing our bodies.”
Below is the entire statement.
Fellow Ghanaians, as we celebrate the Christmas holidays I extend the warmest greetings of my family and I to you all.
Christmas falls at a very important period on the annual calendar. It coincides with the end of the year and ushers into a New Year.
The celebration serves as a source of stocktaking for each individual as it officially also marks the end of the working year for many.
The year 2008 has no doubt been tough, nevertheless the proverbial Ghanaian belief that God will provide has carried us through the year and Christians and Muslims alike have to be thankful to the Almighty for His abundant blessings.
Religious as the original celebration of Christmas may represent, the festivities have also taken on a secular angle with various entertainment events from parties to wild nights out.
One cannot begrudge the Ghanaian for choosing to celebrate the end of the year with some entertainment, but let us do so with a decent element of sobriety and thoughtfulness.
Such periods tend to unfortunately record huge motor accidents and excessive abuse of alcohol and sadly to say, other substances not fit to mention.
It is important that we recognise the religious significance not only of the occasion but also of the particular period of the year. God being so magnanimous has taken us through to the end of the year and we need not mock His generosity by abusing our bodies.
Christmas is also a period of gift giving. As we offer token gifts to our family, friends and loved ones we should not forget our biblical responsibility to give to the less privileged in society.
Acts 20:35 aptly enjoins us:
I have shown you in every way by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.
I enjoin Ghanaians to use the period for sober reflection particularly because two days after Boxing Day we will be going to the polls to elect our President in the election runoff.
It is important that we do not see the act of making Presidential choices as one of enmity between two opposing factions. The choices we are making are private choices based on our inner convictions and it is important we do not allow ourselves to become vessels of anger, violence, intimidation and fraud.
Let us rather use this occasion to sow seeds of affection, unity and togetherness even if we belong to opposing political factions. We owe an obligation to generations to come to make this process a success.
I call on all Ghanaians to stretch a hand of unity to each other and eschew acts of dishonesty during the electoral process. The consequences of any ill-motivated actions will bring a curse on our dear nation of ours.
To all political parties, security agencies, the Electoral Commission and other arms of the state who will be responsible for the electoral process it is important that we operate above reproach and exercise a high level of professionalism, independence and fairness that will ensure that our Christmas season will end in peace and tranquility.
We deserve to elect a president through people's power, not through forgery and fraud and on December 28, let us use our choices sensibly and desist from using anything other than our single vote to make that choice.
Isaiah 9: 6 - "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Merry Christmas and a most Prosperous 2008 to you all.
Signed: Jerry John Rawlings