Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, Omanhene of the Akyem Abuakwa, has called on government to reconsider an independent Ministry for Chieftaincy and Culture to help strengthen the cultural identity and promote a sense of belonging of the citizenry. He said the scrapping of such an important Ministry was disappointing more importantly when the nation was struggling to build and develop its cultural identity to create a sense of belonging among its people. He said the scraping of the Chieftaincy institution as being advocated by most people would only lead to the total erosion of the nation's cultural and traditional values which had been upheld by such institutions for centuries and argued that any attempt or decision to pursue such an agenda must be publicly debated to ensure fair decisions. Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin challenged the youth of Ghana to raise up to the new challenge of building the nation's cultural identity through their genuine participation in issues of national development. Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin who was addressing participants as the chairman of a symposium at the 62nd Annual New Year School and Conference on Tuesday, said it was important for the youth to realise that as future leaders of the country, they needed to act responsibly through the realisation and respect for customs and cultural values to enable them become respectable adults and leaders. Commenting on the topic: "Youth, Culture and Development", he said, no meaningful development could ever be achieved by a nation if its people are enslaved in their minds and had no genuine sense of belonging. He challenged the leadership of the country including politicians, opinion leaders, traditional and community leaders to make conscious efforts to guide the youth in the realisation that in the contemporary era culture plays a very key role in a nation's development. The Okyehene expressed worry about the current influx of foreign culture which is gradually eroding the rich cultural norms and values of the Ghanaian society and to which the youth are becoming enslaved to through their music, dance and way of dressing which are totally alien to their geographical settings. He also condemned the current behaviour of some youths who had persistently exhibited gross disregard and disrespect of law, tradition, customs and the elderly and act in ways that are pleasing to their own selfish interests, saying they must rather devout such energies to contributing meaningfully to national development through the decentralisation systems without violence. He cited the current lack of interest in education, work and societal responsibilities among the youth, saying these had contributed immensely to the high school drop out, unemployment and increased social vices among the youth. He called for the strengthening of the decentralisation process to enhance quality education, the provision of quality drinking and other social amenities as well as the strengthening of the District Assembly concept with the appointment of District Chief Executives to make them more accountable to their own people. Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin also blamed the leadership of the country for not doing much to promote and project the nation's culture which is translated through forms including music, dance, food, cultural festivals and dressing. He argued that it was important for every group of people to feel proud about their origin and cultural identity to build their confidence for their own development rather than be enslaved to foreign ideologies that has for years slowed down their development processes. He however explained that while culture promotes continuity and reminds the people of their origin, it must not be seen as a tie to the DNA of the people that can not be subject to change, but an identity that was subject to change for quality improvement and further enrichment. "It however takes good leadership to see that what was good for yesterday may not be good or today, therefore some aspects of cultural and traditional practices that are not favourable must be eliminated or improved upon", he said. "It also does not mean that the culture of a people must blind them to the technological advancements around them so that they continue to do things the same way as they use to do centuries ago, but must embrace such qualities to improve upon what had already been established. Prof. Kofi Anyidoho, Department of English, University of Ghana, said Ghanaians must recognise culture as a critical, valuable and an integral part of the development process of the country in the face of globalisation. He therefore advocated for the development of the indigenous Ghanaian languages to help build a sense of oneness instead of upholding foreign ones at the expense of the local people who had no formal education. He said Ghana had made no meaningful progress in agriculture and other development areas including education because it had failed to use the right language to achieve quality results. He said there existed major language barriers that must be critically examined and removed to enable the youth harness their full potentials, saying, "We have failed to study our own languages to be able to interpret issues for people to better understand". He said the youth can no longer communicate effectively in their own indigenous languages which are very serious for the future of the country as it spells a potential doom to the extinction of various indigenous Ghanaian languages leading to a total loss of the nation's cultural identity.
Source: Ghana News Agency