Ghana’s 61st Independence, Ghana Beyond Aid, must lead to an upsurge in domestic tourism

Ghana celebrated sixty one years on Tuesday the 6th of March 2018. Sixty one years is a time an individual begins to appreciate life after pension, reflecting on his working career and adjusting to life without regular work. A new journey has begun and Ghana is at a cross road. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his anniversary speech reminded us of a Ghana Beyond Aid. “Fellow Ghanaians, Ghana Beyond Aid is meant to be more than a slogan. It is meant to propel us into the frame of mind that would quicken our pace of development. It is meant to change our mindset from one of dependency to one of achieving our destiny. It is meant to put us in charge of our own affairs and make us truly independent. Above all, Ghana Beyond Aid will give us the respect and dignity we deserve”. If we don’t appreciate our own we cannot truly be independent.

Even though we are independent, the UK still provide Aid to Ghana. Currently the UK aid to Ghana is around GBP130 million according to Boris Johnson UK foreign Secretary who was speaking in an inclusive interview with Joy Business. He did emphasis that the UK government will continue to support Ghana.

As we reflect on 61 years of independence, a change of mindset will mean Ghanaians preferring to visit more tourist attractions in Ghana, spending honey moons in Ghana rather than visiting Dubai, Mauritius’s, Kenya and the likes. We can’t continue travelling to foreign countries for tourism whiles we expect our domestic tourism to thrive. We can’t continue spending money in other countries and expect our economy to be strong. We must understand that Ghana can only be built by Ghanaians. Despite the fact that we are 61 year of independence from Britain, many Ghanaians are still willing to spend lots of money to travel to Britain in search of greener pastures. This mindset must change. The President of the republic again reminded us of that saying “We might have become famous or infamous for being great travellers who can be found in all parts of the globe, but I can safely say that, deep inside us. We love our country. We love Ghana. We take seriously the words of our national motto and have a passionate love for freedom and justice”. Loving our country must not be by words of mouth, Ghanaians must demonstrate that by being involved in domestic tourism. The more you travel around Ghana, the more you will know Ghana and appreciate how beautiful Ghana is thereby being exposed to the culture and history.

One mindset that must be changed is the fact that many Ghanaians value foreign stuffs over local stuffs. It’s another obvious truth that many Ghanaians value and appreciates the celebration of Christmas over the independence celebration. One of the major causes can be attributed to what Pastor Mensah Otabil spoke about whiles addressing his congregation on the event of the church’s 34th-anniversary service. In his view, Africa’s inferiority complex made the continent accept that “until the white man helps us, we can’t help ourselves.” “I say unfortunately because the Christianity that came to us was the true gospel, but it was culturally clothed in the European, and, so, there is the kind of Christianity that we embraced that made everything white: Jesus is white, angels are white, God is white, and, so, we began to feel we are nothing, we are not able, we are not even the same colour with God”. According to information on Wikipedia, No useful description of the physical appearance of Jesus is given in the New Testament and the depiction of Jesus in pictorial form was controversial in the early Church. The depiction of him in art took several centuries to reach a conventional standardized form for his physical appearance, which has subsequently remained largely stable since that time. Most images of Jesus have in common a number of traits which are now almost universally associated with Jesus, although variants are seen. The conventional image of a fully bearded Jesus with long hair emerged around 300, but did not become established until the 6th century in Eastern Christianity, and much later in the West him, which the use of a cruciform halo also achieves. Earlier images were much more varied.

Many Ghanaians will choose their religion over their country. Undertaking excursions and short holidays on Independence Day is rather meaningless to many. Entertainment companies do not organise events on the eve of Independence Day as they do on Christmas Eve.  This mindset must change.  Forums and symposiums must be organised to enable our young people recognize and appreciate the importance of Ghana’s independence celebration. I have asked many young Ghanaians not to mention old people, if they had ever visited the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum. 8 of 10 had never meanwhile they had used that route many times. A visit to the mausoleum will be the beginning of understanding the significance of our independence in our history. Many Ghanaians also have this misconception that Ghana is 61 years old. We must inform our youth with accurate information. Commentators were heard saying the same thing on television during the 61st Independence anniversary. Ghana is not sixty one year but is rather sixty one years of independence from the British. Before the British arrived Ghana was a nation. By the later part of the 19th century the Dutch and the British were the only traders left and after the Dutch withdrew in 1874, Britain made the Gold Coast a protectorate—a British Crown Colony. During the previous few centuries parts of the area were controlled by British, Portuguese, and Scandinavian powers, with the British ultimately prevailing. These nation-states maintained varying alliances with the colonial powers and each other, which resulted in the 1806 Ashanti-Fante War, as well as an ongoing struggle by the Empire of Ashanti against the British, the four Anglo-Ashanti Wars. Republic of Ghana is named after the medieval Ghana Empire of West Africa? And that Ghana was the title of the kings who ruled the kingdom?” the Gold Coast became Ghana on the eve of its independence from British rule. The over 100 years of British colonization on Ghana has affected our generations over that period. There are many arguments as whether Ghana would have been better without the arrival of the British. I believe there is no need to go into these kinds of arguments. The fact is that we must believe and love our own. That is the only way to begin understanding the real meaning of independence.

I end by calling upon the Ghana Education Service to ensure that schools become part of the agenda in explaining the importance of Independence Day by encouraging more excursions to our historical sites. That will enable inculcate a sense of nationalism in the minds of these kids who will begin to appreciate their history the more. Ghana’s history must not be told in the classroom alone. It must be experienced. During Ghana’s 60th Independence day celebration, I suggested that Ghana Education Service comes out with a policy for all schools in Ghana aimed at organize one tour to a historical attraction once a term for all pupils in each region and district. A year on, I don’t know whether that suggestion has been adopted. 

Meanwhile on Wednesday, 7th March 2018, the annual Armed Forces Open Day celebration, which forms part of activities marking the Independence Day celebration, took place in Accra. I hope this year the patronage was more than the previous year. The objective of the Open Day is to get the citizenry to have a better understanding of the Armed Forces establishment as a first step towards fostering friendly ties between the Armed Forces and the public. I encourage schools to be more involved in these kinds of events.

Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd, a Tourism Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to / Visit our website at or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901.Visist our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations.