GHANA: Getting to Grips With 'Culture'

News at the weekend that two men arrested in connection with a botched attempt to forcibly transport a young lady to Northern Ghana to be married to an old man she did not love, had been jailed was welcome indeed.

The two conspired and kidnapped Mahart Seidu, a 19 year old head porter, and chained her to the seat of the Walewale bound bus to prevent her from escaping.

One of the convicts is the victim's uncle.

Their arrest and subsequent conviction is another feather in the cup of the nation's law enforcement agencies and the courts for, it is a demonstration of the continued working of our laws, even in the face of what others might see as a legitimate cultural practice.

The Statesman believes now is the time to take a long, hard look at our cultural practices. Doubtless, our culture is what makes us unique and sets us apart from others.

Culture establishes linkages with the positive aspects of our past and present; it embodies the attitude of our people to the interaction between traditional values and the demands of modern technology within the contemporary international culture.

Such cultural practices and norms as respect for the aged, festivals, and communal living are beautiful to behold. However, it is, we dare say, criminal to accept abuses disguised as culture. Female Genital Mutilation, Trokosi and other 'cultural practises’ definitely need a second look.

Different cultures evolved over the years due to a number of factors, be they social, political or economic. The conditions that formed the basis of those practices have most likely changed.

While not advocating a complete rejection of these practices, it is important that we re-examine them and make them more relevant to the needs of modern day Ghana.

The creation of a whole Ministry of Culture and Chieftaincy Affairs is a clear manifestation of this government’s recognition of this situation.

It is important to educate our selves on the various cultural practices, especially those that have been corrupted over the years, while doing a continual culture check.

Taking a look into the cultural mirror will help us examine our lives and hopefully get answers as to why we are where we are in our development agenda as a nation.

We associate ourselves with a call by the Director of the Centre for National Culture at the weekend for the abolition of some cultural practices that discriminate and hinder progress in the country.

Culture is to serve as a guide, not a stranglehold on our ability to peacefully co-exist as citizens in a peaceful nation.

We are a great people with wonderful cultural features we can teach the world. It behoves on us to discard what hurts us and protect what helps us.

SOURCE: The Statesman

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DATE: 31/10/2007

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