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General News | May 19, 2004

Africans must use traditions for dev't - Prof Boadi

GNA

Accra, May 19, GNA - Professor Lawrence Boadi, a Fellow of Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, on Tuesday asked Africans to use the best of their traditions to form the bases of their development. He said while not ignoring the current technological advancement, Africans should not throw away their rich cultural heritage and completely imitate whatever had been handed down to them by foreigners. Professor Boadi was delivering this year's "Ephraim Amu Memorial Lecture" under the theme: "The Poetry of Ephraim Amu" at the National Theatre in Accra.

Dr Ephraim Amu, who was born in 1888 and died in 1995, attained a national stature very early in life as an artiste and an intellectual. He was a musician, educator, social critic and cultural activist, who was concerned not only with the theory of music, but also with traditions, change and progress, the role of patriotism in nation building and the moral code of civil society.

The Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences and the International Centre for African Music and Dance, University of Ghana, Legon, instituted the Lecture in conjunction with the National Theatre in memory of Dr Amu for his great achievements.

This year's lecture, which was the sixth in the series, educated the packed audience about Dr Amu's use of poetry in his numerous compositions in which he depicted the virtues and ills of society through imagery and made suggestions as to how the nation could be developed.

Professor Boadi, who particularly dwelt on "Yen Ara Asaase Ni", and "Odomankoma Boo Adee" two of Dr Amu's famous compositions noted, "Amu's faith about the ability of the African to harness his potentials within the globalized world was unquestionable.

"We need, therefore, to keep a proper balance on foreign ideas and our traditions in order not to become mere imitators of what have already been developed by others."

Professor Boadi called for systematic research and study into Dr Amu's writings not only for their musical purpose but also for the moral and patriotic lessons that they contained so that both present and future generations could learn from them.

He wondered whether Ghanaians really understood the real meaning of Dr Amu's composition: "Yen Ara Asaase Ni", which has become an unofficial National Anthem.

Professor Boadi noted that in that song Dr Amu was highly critical of the elite in nation building.

He challenged Ghanaians to give deeper response to Dr Amu's poetical calls to civic and moral duty to rid the nation of arrogance, specious elitism and selfishness that created confusion in the forward march to development.

Dr Amu's poem "Yen Ara Asaase Ni" which was frequently sang with relish had ever brought its import to bear on all Ghanaians as a piece that called for patriotism.

"Amu is critical of the Ghanaian elite in his poem but he is not cynical. Amu believed that the best in African traditions should form the basis for Ghana's national development."

Professor Boadi said that the theme when taken up in Dr Amu's other poem of "San Befa" (Come back for it), which was an allegorical satire on uncritical acceptance of foreign ideas at the expense of indigenous traditions, ever sent a message on docile obedience to the public. In the poem Dr Amu ridiculed a character - Kwesi Barima, who in pursuit of knowledge, riches and fame left those things he was chasing behind. Professor Boadi said: "Our link with the past should not be forgotten."

He said that was the more reason why in the globalized world with advancement in technology and the age of the Internet, Africa must develop, preserve and protect its traditions and cultural values so that it could also have its identity to offer to the world.

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