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24.03.2009 Feature Article

Honouring the Living

'A nation that does not honour her heroes are not worth dying for' – Unknown On Thursday19th February, 2009 I listened to the maiden State of Nation address by President Evans A. Mills. His Excellency in the course of the address made two statements, which set me into thinking.

Entrenching Good Foundations
The first statement was to the effect that a nation that is always building or rebuilding its foundation is doomed. This statement, indeed, is factual and very consistent with every sound judgement or reasoning.

It is however very instructive to acknowledge that the reasonability or otherwise of the statement highly depends on the kind of foundation in question. While it is prudent to build upon a good foundation that has already been laid, same cannot be said of a bad one.

One of the factors hindering the advancement of our dear nation, especially since independence, has been the blatant failure of some successive governments to build upon certain formidable foundations that their predecessors laid, due to, mostly, some selfish or unreasonable political decisions. Generally, certain prudent policies by previous governments are unnecessarily revised or abandoned without any better replacement.

The main reason for these untenable conducts has been the government or person who takes the credit should a particular policy be successfully implemented, strengthened or built upon.

It is high time we realised that the only reason the good people of Ghana may entrust the exercise of political power in this country into the hands of any political party or some individuals is that their welfare would be catered for and improved upon. This calls for the strengthening or improvement of existing gains, sound policies and initiation of new ones with the aim of addressing exigent challenges or reasonably responding to modern demands.

To this end, the ruling NDC government should tread cautiously in her bid to review, abrogate or delay the implementation of any needed pragmatic policy made, especially, by the previous government since the welfare of Ghanaians should be superior to any other parochial political decision.

Honouring our Heroes and Distinguished Leaders
The second statement that was made by His Excellency President Mills was that the new administration will set aside a particular day in the year, during which Ghanaians will reflect on the priceless contributions of our forefathers towards the development of this country.

Of course such great past leaders and those living would be honoured in certain respects.

This initiative is unquestionably commendable and should be endorsed and supported by all objective and nationalistic minds. The question, however, is how such heroes or distinguished leaders are going to be honoured? I believe that the best way we can honour our great leaders is not only preaching their farsighted and heroic deeds and visions, but also by taking some practical steps to build upon and perpetuate their good works. Great leaders shall surely die but their good works remain. The existing good works of such leaders is indeed a reflection of their personality. It would therefore be a sheer hypocrisy on our part if we extol such good works without, practically, doing anything to ensure their sustenance and fruitfulness for the benefit of successive generations.

Paradoxically, the dead cannot be honoured. They are usually remembered and paid tribute to. We only honour them by endorsing and perpetuating their good works, which are useful to our advancement in certain respects.

It becomes quite pathetic, if not regrettable, when we talk of honouring our past leaders and statesmen vis-à-vis how we treat them during their lifetime.

It is undisputed that the way we have been treating our past leaders, heroes and statesmen, before their passage, has not been the best.

Respecting our Statesmen
We indeed dishonour rather than honouring them through certain aberrant comments and deeds of ours. Without digging too much into our history to paint a graphic picture of this oddly attitude of ours, I will limit my examples to only our living ex-presidents: Flt. Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kuffour. When the ruling National Democratic Party (NDC) lost power to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in 2000, the way and manner ex-president Rawlings was treated by some Ghanaians during the eight-year reign of the NPP was indeed very unfortunate.

Most regrettably, this negative conduct is still being perpetuated. Now ex-president Kuffour is having his 'day' of this uncalled-for traumatic experience.

We seem to be always castigating our statesmen for some alleged negativity on their part during their reign to the blatant disregard of their invaluable contributions towards the advancement our dear motherland.

We treat them, through our words and deeds, as if they have never been leaders of our great nation. Sadly, the general public and even some elements in the presidency are blameworthy of this indecorous conduct. Administrative matters or issues, which are supposed to be dealt with diplomatically and lawfully, turn out to be public debates.

In the end, the individual political opinions and suspicions of the public concerning such sensitive issues carry the day, without practically finding a lasting solution, as a nation, to whatever might have gone wrong. Indeed, there is the need to turn away from this attitude in order to propel our forward movement aspirations.

Truly, it serves no practical purpose if we maltreat our distinguished leaders, while alive, only to turn around to praise their heroic deeds posthumously.

This attitude is indeed very hypocritical. We need to appreciate the meritorious services rendered by our past leaders and statesmen not only after their death but more importantly while living, after retiring from their respective offices.

We must respect and salute them for their priceless services. Let us give honour to whom honour is due. We can only demonstrate our sincerity and seriousness to honour our distinguished bereaved leaders if we respectively treat those alive. Richard Obeng Mensah;[email protected] The writer is with the Faculty of Law, KNUST and Centre for Human Rights and Advanced Legal Research (CHRALER), Kumasi .

_anonymous Columnist
_anonymous Columnist, © 2009

This author has authored 86 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: AnonymousColumnist

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