Few moments evoke nationalism and national pride as a national anthem does. The world is replete with purely symbolic themes that foster a sense of oneness with which a group of people put their petty differences aside and bond together for causes greater than their individual interests. School songs, battle cries such as “Jama” sang the world over in the stands as teams battle on the field, and – yes – national anthems are all designed to evoke that sense of oneness.
Among these are other imagery and materials such as flags, emblems, and artifacts such as the Golden Stool of the Ashantis that also evoke that sense of oneness which those who subscribe to them need not be prompted to honor. So why do some in our community need prompting to render that automatic honor to these themes we all hold dear?
My belief is that we have misdeployed some of those themes and symbols as a nation, and that misdeployment has injured the magnitude of their impact on members of our society.
I see alumni of schools such as Owass, Prempeh, “Motown” Mfantsipin, etc gather at places and burst into their school songs – sometimes to the chagrin of those of us who attended less high-profile secondary schools. I see students burst into their favorite “Jama” (known as “samamo” during our time) at the parking lot of parks or on the school bus and everyone joins in and makes a complete “fool” (term used jovially) of themselves.
But why do I see our national anthem played only at events where presidents or vice presidents are in attendance? Are those the only moments when we are supposed to have our sense of patriotism evoked? I thought our patriotism must be a 24/7 commitment, and that each significant time we gather together to conduct business of national interest – whether or not presidents and vice presidents are in attendance – is a time to be reminded of our love of country.
Having had the good fortune of attending several events where the national interests are discussed, I found it interesting that the national anthem was not played until the president or vice president showed up. And this phenomenon is not unique with one political party – it is how we have used the national anthem historically. It makes one wonder if presidents and vice presidents – past and present – have bought and paid for the rights to our national anthem.
Should we not be socializing Ghanaians from the beginning to honor the flag and the national anthem during vantage events such as school opening bells, later in life such as opening of board meetings of national agencies, or any other national events regardless of the presence of presidents or vice presidents?
At a time when national interests seem too often to take a back seat to personal and parochial interests of Ghanaians, it may be worth wondering if a more strategic deployment of our national anthem would have made a difference in instilling in us more sense of patriotism in all our dealings. For starters, President Nana Akufo-Addo could take the lead by releasing the national anthem for less prominent usage. For now, I believe the national anthem is too tied to our presidents, and that may explain why some feel alienated from it.
Jermaine Nkrumah is the Founder and CEO of Diaspora Network Television (DNT) www.dntghana.com