Many Ghanaians, who were born around the time of independence and before that as well as the early 60s including President Mahama, who was born in 1958, will agree with me that Ghana was a wonderful place to live in.
Every Ghanaian was very proud to be Ghanaian. It was a period of prosperity for Ghana. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who was Ghana’s first president, created excellent conditions for national progress and development.
Many factories were built which received sustainable energy provided by the Akosombo dam. Unemployment was low and there were jobs for everybody, who was educated.
Even people with MSLC (“San” Seven Certificates) easily got government jobs. There were free education, free medical care and sufficient food supply. Ghanaians were not even willing to travel abroad, except a scholarship has been offered for one to travel abroad for the purpose of furthering his or her education.
Interestingly football players were happy to play in Ghana and many good players refused contracts abroad. Master-dribbler, Osei Kofi, received contract invitations from both the United States and Germany but he refused to honour any of the invitations.
This was a period in Ghana, when national songs, anthems and pledges highly motivated Ghanaians. We recited them with great emotion and honour as we stood on our feet.
Do these national songs and anthems still motivate today as they used to be between the 60s and the early 80s. Are the words and sentences really meaningful to Ghana’s experience today?
I will consider one of the national songs and see how meaningless the words in them have become. I will consider the following national song: “Ghana my happy home. /Land of rich resources, /Land of mighty talents, of racial tolerance, /Justice and freedom. /I will die for thee, glorious Ghana. /I will die for thee in all I think or speak or do.”
I will analyze the song, sentence by sentence and see if like all the anthems, the song is timeless and the words expressed in the song really reflect the realities of today.
The original composer of this national song was Emmanuel Yaw Mensah. He came out with this song during the Acheampong’s regime. Another version was later introduced by a man, who called himself insightful Patrick.
However, Emmanuel’s version was widely accepted. The song became popular in the entire country. Before then the foremost official patriotic song was “Lift High the Flag of Ghana”, the national anthem adopted at independence, and written and composed by Phillip Gbeho.
The entire lyrics of that anthem were changed in the late 60s with the present one titled, “God bless our homeland Ghana”. A national competition was held for a new text and Michael Kwame Gbordzoe, a young student from Bishop Herman College, won it. The new words were supposed to reflect the new and modern Ghana.
GHANA MY HAPPY HOME: The economic hardship, joblessness, poor governance and financial mismanagement have made it difficult for Ghanaians to progress or move ahead with their lives.
Unlike before when jobs were readily available, when education was free from primary to university level and when graduates received appointments even before they received their final certificates. This was the period when Ghana was really a happy home.
Not many Ghanaians were eager to travel abroad in search of greener pastures. Ghana was highly respected worldwide and many Nigerians preferred to call themselves Ghanaians, when they travelled abroad.
What then has gone wrong in Ghana? Coup after coup, poor governance and corruption, unemployment and inflation coupled with lack of innovation and ideas have compelled many Ghanaians to consider Ghana as not being a happy home enough and have therefore sought refuge in foreign lands.
LAND OF RICH RESOURCES: During the Acheampong’s regime, when this song was written, Ghana had not discovered oil. But we were still endowed with other rich resources which were enough to help her achieve a middle income status.
It is largely believed that Ghana has all it takes for her to be as developed as every other country. Ghana has rich deposits of gold, diamond, manganese and many more including her latest discovery of oil.
We have other resources like timber and other agricultural products and fisheries. Ever since Nkrumah was overthrown, these natural resources have not brought wealth to the country and to the average Ghanaian.
The discovery of natural resources in Ghana has become a curse, thus increasing the problem of poverty in Ghana. But what do we see? Foreign companies have controlled Ghana’s natural resources for so many years and they still maintain absolute control with Ghana receiving nothing but yearly taxes.
Do we have any reason to sing about Ghana as land of rich resources? It is a shame that we have no control over what belongs to us and all Ghanaians experience is very abysmal improvement in their lives, and also, as a country, we have not been able to achieve any accelerated development despite our immense natural resources.
LAND OF MIGHTY TALENTS: Talent is an aptitude or a disposition of a person. It is a natural or an acquired intellectual ability, or a special endowment or a skill accomplishing a special job.
Ghana’s situation can be likened to the third man in the parable Jesus told in Matthew 25:14-30. A man was embarking on a journey so he decided to give his servants some pieces of gold. He gave the first one, five pieces of gold, to the second one, two pieces and the third, one piece of gold. The first one worked with the five pieces of gold and doubled it to ten. The second servant also doubled his gold to four. The third one hid the only piece he got under the ground.
Dear readers, you all know what happened to the man who hid the one talent of gold under the ground, when the master finally returned. Before the British left, they handed millions of pounds to the rulers of Ghana. Just like the man who hid his talent of gold, Ghana could not use the amount to make any headway in rapid development.
Indeed, we did even worse than the third man. We squandered what we were given. By the middle of the 60s, even what the “master” had left us when he embarked on his journey to his home country, was no longer there for us to show to him if he had come back to ask of it. We chopped it ‘nyafu nyafu’.
However, the songwriter was specifically referring to Ghana as having people with naturally acquired intellectual ability. If we had great foresight as a nation, all these Ghanaians with mighty talents would be properly harnessed and supported, they will create a lot of progress and development for the nation.
It is a true fact that Ghana is a land of mighty talents but it is also a shame that these talents have been neglected and ignored. The gift, aptitude and natural ability of Apostle Dr. Safo Kantanka come immediately to mind. There are many talents like him. If we have to be proud of Ghana as a land of mighty talents, all efforts must be made to utilize our talents instead of just singing about them.
OF RACIAL TOLERANCE: Tolerance is the appropriation of diversity and the ability to live and let others live. It is the ability to exercise a fair and objective attitude towards those whose opinions, practices, religion, nationality and so on differ from one’s own. It also involves showing respect to the essential humanity in every person. Do you know what baffles me? The songwriter completely left out or ignored tribal or ethnic tolerance.
We continue to show hospitality to other races because that is what our national songs implore us to do, while tribalism and ethnic conflicts deepen in Ghana. As a result of this tolerance for other races, priority treatment is accorded them over Ghanaians in many spheres of our lives; at our airports, in our hotels and the manner lands are appropriated to them, sometimes for illegal purposes like “galamsey” and felling of trees for timber purposes. The national song should have encouraged tribal peace rather than ignoring it.
JUSTICE AND FREEDOM: These words are inscribed in our coat of arms. Justice is considered as the first virtue of social institutions. Social justice is defined as promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity. Justice exists when people share a common humanity and therefore have the right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights and a fair allocation of resources.
Freedom on the other hand is the right and capacity of people to determine their own actions in a community which is able to provide for the full development of human potentiality.
The songwriter indicates that Ghana is a land of justice and freedom. Do we really have justice in Ghana? What about freedom? It is clear in Ghana that there is no justice for the poor.
A hungry man, who uprooted five tubers of yams from a neighbour’s farm was sentenced for twenty-three years with hard labour. A-22-year-old boy, who stole a mobile phone from an elderly person was slammed with forty-five years in prison. However, influential persons, who commit economic crimes against the country, are one way or the other strutting in Ghana. Is this really a land of freedom and justice?
It is evident that the national song, “Ghana my happy home” has outlived its usefulness. We will be hypocrites and fickle-minded if we continue to sing the national song in the old form, unless the songwriter overhauls and edits the song to make it more realistic.