Honor; Appreciation; and Gratitude

Every year in the United States and some European countries, people who have made significant contributions in their fields of endeavor are recognized for their works. The United States, for instance, has several such awards and honors for such people as entertainers, sports personalities, media practitioners, politicians, military personnel and public servants, scholars and ordinary citizens among several others. The United Kingdom goes a step further awarding citizens who are recognized with titles such as Sir and Lord. In appreciation to the state, people engaged in all kinds of endeavor work hard at what they do; and it shows at international competitions in sports and education, to mention a few areas.

Our traditional societies, however, are lacking in recognizing citizen contributions. In our villages and rural societies it is rare to find the same durbars and gatherings as in funerals and occasional celebrations of traditional festivals. In Ghana and elsewhere in Africa recognition of community and/or selfless service to country is a posthumous exercise.  We do not want to believe that it is influenced by some cultural and traditional fiat, but the virtues of the dead are only extolled at their funerals. Most often their achievements are known and admired in their lifetimes but hardly do they receive the recognition they deserve alive. At best they are accorded respect by their communities.

On the national level, we have living legends in several fields of endeavor in Ghana and Africa. In many cases instead of being recognized at home, they become victims of political repression and/or decide to go into voluntary exile, where they could obtain the peace of mind to work. As we write, the nation is waiting to celebrate the life of Nana Kwaku Ampadu, a highlife legend. We notice that even though he received several honors in his lifetime for his musical genius, the nation was absent in its appreciation during his lifetime. The ‘grateful’ nation, however, has planned a state funeral for him.

A notable writer and leader of a movement fighting the mindless exploitation of crude oil in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, Saro Wiwa was executed by the military government led by General Sanni Abacha for his activist role. On several occasions, Wole Soyinka, a Nobel laureate, famous for his political defiance has had to flee Nigeria, his country or be incarcerated by the authorities. Some who chose to stay and fight endured incessant arrests, incarceration and death. Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, mother of famous musician and activist, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who played a vital role in education, healthcare, the arts and politics was victimized by the military government led by General Olusegun Obasanjo, dying in a fire incident at her residence in Lagos. She was the embodiment of Susan Anthony, the American woman who spearheaded and succeeded in gaining women voting rights in the United States.

Many a patriot has been sacrificed for their political beliefs for the simple reason that they disagreed with their opponents in power. In place of appreciating them, they were made to endure torture in prisons and long periods of incarceration and even die in the process. Dr. J. B. Danquah, a Ghanaian lawyer, politician and philosopher suffered long terms of imprisonment under the Preventive Detention Act of 1958 enacted under the leadership of Ghana’s first prime minister and president, Kwame Nkrumah. Once political allies, they were both members of the famous Big Six who joined hands in the struggle for independence. None of the six members who could have been honored and awarded was recognized by the winning side when Nkrumah finally led the CPP to gain independence for his country.

In the main only in a few cases would honors and appreciation be rejected. It is worth mention that in June 2008 former national security coordinator in the NDC administration of J. J. Rawlings, recently deceased Captain Kojo Tsikata, nominated for a top national honor rejected the offer. According to a Ghanaian Chronicle report late Mr. Tsikata “could not fathom the processes that led to his name being put on the list of nominees.” We’d rather conclude that he refused the honor on political grounds.

Grateful nations and communities do not wait to be prompted or reminded of the need to respond to citizens who contribute to national development in varied ways. The military and the security services should be commended for their quick and prompt recognition of the contributions by their members.

And Amandla is reminding Ghanaians and Africans to resolve to accept our angels at home, recognizing and identifying their worth to society. Too many of our heroes have been left slaving for others elsewhere.

Posted by on Jan 12 2022. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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