The 2017 Commonwealth Day has been observed across 52 countries around the world amongst 800,000 students, Monday.
Here in Ghana, pupils of the Ghana International School (GIS) marked the day with an observation ceremony and a call on Commonwealth nations to imbibe the shared values of peace, respect and understanding.
Reading the Commonwealth Day Message by Her Majesty, the Queen, who heads the Commonwealth of nations, the Head Girl of GIS McKenzie T. Ohene reiterated the need for peace across nations especially at a time when there are fears of global terrorism.
“The cornerstones on which peace is founded are quite simply, respect and understanding for another. Working together, we build peace by defending the dignity of every individual and community.
“By upholding justice and the rule of law, and by striving for societies that are fair and offer opportunities for all, we overcome division and find reconciliation, so that the benefits of progress and prosperity may be multiplied and shared,” the message read.
As part of the traditions of the Commonwealth Day event, a baton will set out from Buckingham Palace, Monday, March 13, 2017 and begin a long and extraordinary journey over 12 months across the 52 countries.
“The Queen’s Baton will have brought together through its route and symbolism, almost 2.5 billion people who share the special connection of being common wealth citizens.”
Together in peace and in unity of purpose, the pupils of GIS held a brief, yet significant ceremony with cards on which the Commonwealth is spelt, and with the Head Girl, McKenzie, who was the Queen’s representative in Ghana, reiterating the values on which the Commonwealth is built.
The Vice Principal of the Junior School, Ms Bruce-Muller said the theme for this year’s Commonwealth event- Peace building- could not have resonated more with the GIS whose motto is “Understanding each other.”
“We promote internationalism and inter-culturalism. We have students here from all over the world…Part of our ethos as an institution is communicating that we are a diverse world it is important that we understand each other,” she said.
The Youth Coordinator (Africa) for the Royal Commonwealth youth was particularly excited about the use of children to promote the ideals of the Commonwealth.
Gideon Commey said the “future of the world is based on the foundation we build,” stressing the need for the values of peace, respect, understanding to be inculcated in the students at a young age.
Borrowing from a Barrack Obama speech, Mr Commey said “One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world,” he told the pupils and applauded them for their comportment.
The head of the Africa Office of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Secretariat of the Council of Commonwealth Societies, John Apea told Myjoyonline.com, “peace is a means to an end and an end in itself. It means respect for one another, being responsible for one another. It also means hope, equality, democracy and good governance. This is what the Commonwealth stands for.”
The Commonwealth has its roots tied to the days of the British Empire when some countries were ruled either directly or indirectly by Britain.
Some of these countries became self-governing while retaining Britain’s monarch as Head of State. They formed the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The Commonwealth was officially formed in 1949. Since then, independent countries from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific have joined The Commonwealth.
Parts of its major ideals and values are to promote democracy, rule of law and equality across member states.