President Nana Addo’s revelation of the projected cost for the Ghana at 60 celebrations has generated mixed reactions among Ghanaians. Whereas some are incensed owing to their perception that the amount involved (20 million cedis) is too much there are others who believe that 60 years of self-rule is such a major achievement that cannot be glossed over.
On the face value, both the proponents for and against commemorating the event seem to have a point. First of all, we need to establish whether there is need to commemorate this event.
Is Ghana at 60 necessary?
As pointed above, opinion is still divided among Ghanaians on whether commemorating our 60 years of independence will add value to majority of Ghanaians who are still grappling with all manner of humanitarian challenges — lack of shelter, hunger, just to mention a few.
The pro-independence apologists believe that the decision to boycott this celebration will be tantamount to suggesting that we do not appreciate our independence. They believe Ghana has achieved so much that warrants the celebration. On the contrary, the antagonists believe that in as much as commemorating six decades of independence is a good thing, it should not be undertaken with such colossal budget especially at a time when a sizable share of our population still lack basic amenities. For instance, they argue that, 60 years on, not all Ghanaians still have access to potable drinking water, quality health care and thousands are still homeless.
So what do we have to show for a country that’s 60 years? That we have been liberated from what many have described as the exploitation of cruel colonial masters is not in doubt. But this does not warrant blind spending when that very independence has failed to reflect on the lives of citizenry. How can we say we are free from colonial rule when we still go begging the oppressors for crumbs in the name of loans and international agreements? Even the argument that we are spending less on the same exercise [$20m in 2007 as compared to $5m in 2017] as opposed to the 2007 Ghana@50 celebration, is not a justification for waste.
Yes, the event will be funded by the Ghanaian business community as suggested by the Ghana@60 committee but can’t we channel those resources to useful programmes that will positively affect Ghanaians?
When the President of Tanzania, John Magafuli was confronted with a similar opportunity to engage in needless celebrations he rubbished the idea and rather suggested that a communal clean-up exercise be organised. He was quoted as saying that it would be “shameful” to spend huge sums of money on the celebrations when “our people are dying of cholera.” We can equally glean some good lessons from his decision and developments from Ghana at 50 celebrations, should be our guiding principle.
It’s very relevant to commemorate the event-it will offer us an opportunity to reflect on our successes and proffer remedy for our failures. We can seize the moment and take advantage of the occasion to mobilise for a better future but let us not waste resources while we are at it. Let us be modest in our celebrations.