Let me congratulate our security personnel and the school children for the smart and impressive turnout this morning. This morning’s display is a manifestation of what we can do if we work together towards a common objective of national transformation.
This year, we have reformatted the parade to reduce the pressure on our school children who in the past have had to stand on parade for a couple of hours in the scorching sun.
This year the children here have come onto the parade ground only at the time they were required to march past and receive the Presidential acknowledgement. The re-formatting of this year’s parade means that we can think outside the box and change things for the better.
Even the display by the security services has been more exciting and given us a glimpse into what they have to go through to defend the territorial integrity and the safety and security of our nation.
I wish on behalf of all Ghanaians to thank the security services, the school children, and the National Planning Committee for all the effort and work you have put into planning and successfully executing this national celebration.
Our nation is 58 years old. Not far from here, the founding father of our nation, Dr. Kwame
Nkrumah, pronounced the famous word, “at long last, the battle has ended and thus Ghana your beloved Country is free forever…” Fifty-eight years on, we have a varied report card to show. Watching a popular television station’s news programme yesterday, people were asked what their opinions were about 58 years of independence.
I watched a man who said there was no need to celebrate our independence because he did not believe we had achieved anything in the 58 years of our independence and cited the power shortage as a justification for his conclusion. This was followed by a lady who said we had cause to celebrate because we have chalked some successes and if we continue to work together we can build on those achievements.
Fellow Countrymen and women,
Different personalities, different genders, different conclusions!
If you asked my opinion I will side with the woman. First because women, traditionally, are credited with a great sense of intuition and that is why in the Kings court, when they have been unable to resolve an issue they refer it to “Abrewa”. “Yen ko bisa abrewa” it is often said.
Secondly, it is also known that all individuals and nations that have achieved greatness have celebrated their successes and their failures. Their successes so they can build on them and their failures so they never repeat them anymore.
Fifty-eight years in our history, we have made mistakes and we have chalked successes. We must celebrate and enhance our successes and recognize and minimize our failures.
All of us have contributed to our collective history and would be a critical factor in whether we succeed or fail as a nation.
I daresay that, notwithstanding any mistakes we may have made, our nation is celebrated for our strong democracy, respect for human rights, free expression, ethnic harmony, and above all religious tolerance. That is why I have recently been worried about a few events that have affected the atmosphere of ethnic and religious peace we have enjoyed.
I am sure that our society has the absorbers to withstand these shocks, and that is why my heart was gladdened when I noticed the unanimity exhibited in the demonstration in support of equal citizenship.
The participation of various personalities in this demonstration indicates that on both sides of the partisan divide we are resolved not to allow ourselves to be divided by ethnic or regional sentiments. I am absolutely encouraged by this show of solidarity by our young politicians on the issue of national unity. Each and every one of us, in our ethnic and cultural diversity, contributes in a unique way to make our nation great and strong.
Our diversity must therefore, as I said in the State of Nation Address, be a source of strength and not a weakness. Our diversity should be harnessed and forged into a potent weapon for the realization of our national interests. They should not provide grounds for tearing ourselves asunder.
My brothers and sisters,
I also note that on the issue of religious relations that I sought to clarify as President during my State of the Nation Address, a citizen of our nation has headed to the Supreme Court to seek an interpretation of the relevant clauses of our constitution.
We will all await the highest court of the land to discharge its mandate, but I just wish to indicate that Government is not averse to the use of inter-faith channels and dialogue to resolve any disagreements amongst our different faith groups.
I have therefore only yesterday asked the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to join the National Peace Council in initiating a dialogue to foster an amicable understanding of how to operationalize Article 21 (1) of our constitution. This is without prejudice to any conclusion the Supreme Court of the Land would arrive at in respect of the suit brought before it.
Assuming without accepting that we have achieved nothing in our 58 years of existence as a nation, one thing the whole world recognizes and accepts about Ghana is that we are an oasis of peace, democracy, religious and ethnic tranquility. This is such a beautiful asset we cannot allow anyone to take away from us. We cannot sacrifice our Ghanaian character of ethnic and religious harmony on the altar of political bigotry.
Multi-party democracy is not synonymous with enmity and division. It rather offers a melting pot for the exchange of ideas. Party politics is disadvantageous if all that it leaves in its wake are intractable differences and a lack of consensus on any and every national subject. Belonging to different political organizations is no reason why we cannot work together to achieve solutions to our common challenges.
I wish to declare emphatically that for me, no amount of political power is worth plunging this country into partisan, ethnic or religious strife. I pledge to continue to do all in my power to promote an atmosphere of political rapprochement in order to diffuse any tensions that may threaten our national wellbeing and I expect that all political leaders in this country will do same.
My Fellow Citizens,
Our world is changing and becoming increasingly unpredictable.
Last year, we were all drenched by a sudden thunderstorm during this independence celebration at this same venue, the Black Star Square. It was highly unusual to have a storm of that magnitude at this time of the year. And yet because of the phenomena of climate change, this year we have already had two thunderstorms even in the month of February. Happily our Meteorological Service has assured us that our celebration is not likely to be marred today by a rainstorm.
It is not only our climate that is changing. Our demographics are changing; our politics is changing. We must therefore change our attitudes and our way of doing things. I call for a rejuvenation of our national psyche from one that focuses on fleeting challenges and discounts success chalked over years, to one that embraces greater and sustained effort towards national development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There is no substitute for hard work and discipline. Let us always consider it an honour to be chosen to work for your country. Let the message therefore go forth to all our youth that your success in academic pursuit and life in general is contingent on your willingness to embrace hard work and discipline.
These are time-tested values that have seen many grow into men and women of valour and substance. Our youth are like healthy seeds and all the investments that your parents and Government make in your education and upbringing are the water and nurturing required for these seeds to germinate. After germination, you are expected to blossom into responsible men and women prepared to take over the affairs of this great land long after we, your parents and grandparents, have departed this earth.
Ghana’s future depends on you. I am confident you will rise to the challenge.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The 58th anniversary that we mark today as a free and independent country has only been made possible and relevant because for centuries others before us were willing to do whatever it took to free us from colonial bondage. That journey towards self-rule is characterized by epoch making events from which we should draw inspiration for our own march towards socio-economic transformation.
I was born in 1958, just a year after independence was attained. My wife, Lordina, also a post independence Ghanaian, was born on the 6th of March 1963.
Like many of you gathered here, and elsewhere, the great stories of our independence struggle were passed on to us through oral tradition and accounts documented by historians. Our history of resistance and liberation is spiced with the courage and sacrifice of many.
Yaa Asantewa, Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe, Private Odartey Lamptey, Nii Kobina Boni, Osagyefo Dr. Nkrumah, the big six and countless others. These people took a stand for us and today we continue to reap the fruits of their sacrifice. Their contributions and place in history is assured. But how will history remember our generation when our story is written?
Will we be remembered as a generation that took a stand for our nation or one that threw up its arms in despair and buckled in the face of surmountable obstacles? As we go about the task of building a nation of progress, prosperity and equality, let us bear in mind that we are at the same time writing our own story. A story that posterity will either consider worthy of emulation or one that will be condemned for its lack of inspiration and sprit.
Youth of Ghana,
We have been offered a test to prove ourselves worthy of inheriting this great nation. It is a test that we dare not fail. Failing will amount to a grave injustice to the memory of all those whose sweat, blood and toil helped construct the great nation handed down to us. Even as we acknowledge that more challenges remain to be resolved, they are no reason for us to slide into purposeless lamentation and self-pity. Rather they must offer a pivot around which we galvanize ourselves into action.
The time has come for a collective push to quicken the pace of our march towards socio- economic transformation. To do this, we need to shed the garb of division, we must don the gear of unity, respect and love for one another, let us pick up the tools of hard work, and plough the fields of challenge in order to sow and nurture the seeds that will enable us collectively reap the fruits of sustainable development.
When for centuries past generations waged the relentless struggle, which culminated in the proclamation of our independence by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah fifty-eight years ago, they were only lighting a flame that shone a bright light on our path to progress and prosperity.
Let us not be the generation that dimmed that light.
Let the children marching here today and those that will follow say of us that ours was the generation that held the flaming torch aloft the highest so it could shine even brighter to guide their path to the building of an even more prosperous nation.
God bless our homeland Ghana.
May God bless us all
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