It was my birthday last month, but I was so busy on the day and hardly had a moment to myself; the next thing I knew, the day was over and I was lying in bed wondering how I let the day pass me by. And then it hit me…I will observe my birth month and celebrate it everyday the best way I can; that was a brilliant idea, if I say so myself.
Tuning in to a couple of radio stations in Accra this March, I realised I was not alone in my new way of thinking. I kept hearing the general theme of “Ghana Month” throughout the day; the media also thought that one day was not enough to celebrate our beautiful country called Ghana. March 6, 1957, may have been the day we declared Ghana as an independent country (free from colonial rule, basically…but are we?) but why not own the month, so to speak? There is so much to acknowledge about our beautiful country that cannot be fit into one day observation (or can it?) and here is probably why:
- Festivals– these are usually an annual or biannual celebration by our various tribes or towns in different parts of the country to honour a past event or recognise some personalities. There are intriguing festivals all year round in our country and you really should have experienced one (not least because you’re Ghanaian!) on your to-do list in your lifetime. They are usually colourful ceremonies and have very key significance to the ethnic group and their culture. The two given things that run across most of our festivals are food (glorious food!!) and music and dance. I know of the Hogbetsotso, Akwasidae, Homowo, Kundum, Bakatue, Aboakyir, Afahye and will choose one to attend this year
- Ethnicity– we all belong to at least one of the major 5 ethnic groups in Ghana, namely the Akan, the Ewe, Mole-Dagbane , the Guan, and the Ga-Adangbe. Each of these groups have their own norms and practices within the larger Ghanaian identity. For most of these ethnic groups you can tell where someone comes from by just listening to their names….do you know which one or more ethnic groups you come from? You should use this month (or year) to learn about your ethnic group and their norms
- Foods– our foods are as diverse as we are as a people. If you’re one of those people who eat eat rice in all forms morning, noon and night then you don’t know the health benefits you’re missing out on in some of our dishes. One food that cuts across our ethnic groups is soup (in many forms), and the one feature of our foods from the southern parts of our country is ‘spicy’, both in seasoning and in the ‘pepper-hot’ sense. Broaden your palate and your appreciation for our foods
- Our languages– there are over 70 languages spoken in our country, did you know that? And out of this number, there are about 11 which are officially approved by our Education Ministry to be used in teaching at the primary school level. Each Ghanaian is born into an ethnic group that has its own dialect or language….if you can speak English, that is great! As a Ghanaian you must be able to speak and or communicate in at least one of your own languages, in addition to the English language. Why, you ask? Well, wouldn’t you want to be able to speak more than just the one language you currently speak? Do you know of the concept of monolinguals, bilinguals and multilinguals? And which of these groups of people end up getting better jobs and opportunities? Read up on it, my dearest tweenager!
- Our connection to the rest of the continent– The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked to the total liberation of Africa, Who said this? Why did they way this? What do they mean by this statement? Hint: It was Kwame Nkrumah who said this but what does his statement mean today?
There definitely is more to be celebrated and learnt about Ghana which will take more than a day, month or year, I daresay. But the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so start with one day…learning something new about Ghana daily for the rest of the month for you’re a citizen of this land and must get to know her in her full glory.