Speech delivered by Dr. Martin La-Kumi Keynote Speaker at the Ghanafest Chicago, USA on Saturday July 31st, 2004
Mr Chairperson, Chuck Bowen, Corporate Sponsors, Ladies and Gentlemen, Invited Guests, Nannom, and friends,
I would like to thank the organizers of this festival for inviting me to come from Canada to give the keynote address at this year's celebration of the Ghanaian culture and history. I am of the view that this festival will usher in a renewed acquaintance with the culture of Ghana and the African continent as a whole.
I would like to thank the Mayor, the people of Chicago and all sponsors for their support and participation in these festival activities. I am aware of the large African-American population in this city and I am happy that most of them are here to see the rich cultural heritage of mother Africa. I thank them sincerely for their support and their participation in these festivities as well.
Ghana is a country whose culture is very vibrant and so exquisite that people from all over the world are always fascinated by the dynamism and the activist nature of its custodians. Almost all festivals that depict the cultural mosaic in Ghana are always colourful in its splendour. The people that celebrate these festivals wear the kind of regalia and costume that is reminiscent of our ancient ancestral beliefs and the established modus operandi for these cultural activities. The gold and the green colours represent the presence of gold and wealth and the rich tropical rain forest in the country.
I am sure that, all of you gathered here today are witnesses to the rich and ebulliently and vibrantly colourful culture of the Ghanaian community. From the southern part of Ghana to the northern most part of the country, there are culturally diverse people with different forms of culture, which attest to the histories, beliefs and the sacrosanct nature of culture in the Ghanaian and African societies.
In every society in this world, there is culture which identifies the people in its own shape, its purposes and its own meaning. In every human society, culture illustrates these in institutions, and in arts and learning and the eventual cohesion and the respect, unity and recognition of those in authority. These are processes of human societies and human minds and we see through them the nature of a culture that is always traditional, distinctive, creative and evolving.
You are witnessing today a culmination of hard work and unity of the human spirit and the people themselves, which made it possible for this function to be successful. I thank all Ghanaian representatives from the various cultural organizations, especially the National Council Executive who spent countless hours and sacrificed their time to get the work done for this festival.
We thank all the Ahenfo and their various retinues for embarking on this showcasing of Ghanaian culture to the people of North America, which shows the intricacies of the facets of the Ghanaian culture.
We should be able to sustain this culture for years to come. This can be achieved by getting our sons, daughters and visitors alike to get involved so they will continue to appreciate and respect this beautiful cultural heritage. In short we need a sense of continuum in this process.
I will digress here a bit to talk about something, which is also pertinent to the welfare of our people in Ghana.
We have dedicated Government leaders in Ghana who are working to put things right. However, the government cannot do it alone. The country needs its citizens in the Diaspora to do their part in national development efforts. Most sons and daughters from other nations have come together to help their countries achieve the commanding heights of the economic development and it behooves on all of us to do the same to help our country as well.
I am sure posterity will judge us very well on this feat because our progress depends on what we do as a people to help our country. We must be selfless, nationalistic and patriotic in our zeal to help our country. In short, love and duty for country is a necessary ingredient in our quest for progress on all fronts.
Now our country is blessed with abundant natural resources, a lot of our young men and women in
Ghana continue to be chronically unemployed and we need to the things that would change people's destiny on the Ghanaian job market. There is absolute need to create a lot of jobs for the economically depressed lot in Ghana. There are a lot of you who have businesses in North America and in Ghana.
I will urge all of you that have business interests in Ghana to find ways and means to change our economic direction and in so doing will find appropriate avenues to shore up all of the government's efforts. Secondly, you could form partnerships with your American counterparts and friends to set up businesses in Ghana, which would create the kind of jobs for the people so that they can also contribute towards economic development and expansion.
Investment conditions in Ghana at present are very progressive and investors will be guided to take advantage of the various business opportunities available in the country. Again, a lot of the workforce have been trained and coupled with favourable investment incentives and appropriate laws will augur well for a massive infusion of foreign capital in the Ghana's economy. This will ultimately help the country to move forward in a very prosperous way.
Nation building and development of our country, Ghana, is a necessity. I want to encourage our Ghanaian compatriots to eschew selfishness and rancour but rather get united and cooperate and do the things, which will make your lives here better so you can also help to progress in stride. Help one another and put yourselves in other peoples' shoes so you can appreciate the hardship of another.
If you are united, you can achieve so much for your selves rather than each carrying his or her own torch. Love one another, come together as one and build a better future for all of you. Let this cultural exposition be a testament of your unity and respect for your cultural values and the enhancement of your lives in North America.
I am of the view that you will rise to the occasion to sell Ghana to your American friends and partners so that together you will all aim towards the exploration of the possibilities and opportunities abound in the country
Finally I will appeal to the people of the USA to include Ghana in their itinerary of visits on their vacation time. We need all of them to help us move forward as tourists to our country. There is a lot to see and do with a lot of beautiful beaches for your enjoyment and pleasure. Thank you very much for listening and God bless all of you and our homeland.