Mr Alexander Asum-Ahensah, Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture, at the weekend, underscored the need for attitudinal change towards the nation’s culture.
To this end, he said, Ghanaians should encourage and promote our creative industries, which hold the key to the development of the country’s creative economy.
Mr Asum-Ahensah made the call, when he addressed a durbar of the chiefs and people of the Shai (Se) Traditional Area, during their Annual Ngmayem Festival at Dodowa.
Ngmayem is an ancient festival of the Dangme people. Mgma (millet) was the staple food of the Dangme Tribes as well as the Gas, which is processed into flour for bread and other kinds of food.
Mr Asum-Ahensah, who represented the President as the Guest Speaker, said there was the need for Ghanaians to attach great importance to the nation’s culture ” as the bedrock of our development”, since it covers every facet of human activity.
He urged traditional rulers to acquire skills in conflict resolution and mediation, in order to manage and forestall potential future conflicts, which undermined development in the various traditional areas.
“Our forbears used such methods to co-habit peacefully before the western courts were introduced to us.”
The Minister advised the chiefs and people of the Shai Traditional Area, to put their arts together, close their ranks, bury their differences, as far as chieftaincy disputes were concerned, and work hard towards the development of the area in particular, and Ghana as a whole.
Mr Asum-Ahensah disclosed that the National House of Chiefs, with the support of some donor agencies, was collaborating with the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney-General’s Department, to enhance the skills and competencies of chiefs in Alternative Dispute Resolution.
He was optimistic that these programmes would contribute immensely to the resolution of several chieftaincy disputes in the country.
The Chieftaincy and Culture Minister intimated that, this year’s edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFAC), would be held in Tamale, from November 20 to 27, under the theme: “NAFAC-Promoting Unity, Technology and Wealth Creation for a Better Ghana: The Role of the Youth in Nation Building.”
Mr Asum-Ahensah explained that whereas in the past NAFAC showcased and celebrated the unique diversities of the country’s rich cultural heritage and also promoted excellence and creativity in the arts, the focus now was shifting towards development and job creation opportunities for the unemployed youth.
Nii Armah Ashietey, Greater-Accra Regional Minister, bemoaned the numerous chieftaincy litigations in the region, which remained unresolved, adding that, about 80 per cent of the time of the Regional Security Council, was devoted to discussing the many chieftaincy disputes and land litigations.
Nii Ashietey regretted that in recent times, these disputes degenerated into bloody conflicts and chaos, and charged the traditional councils and the regional house of chiefs to devise more pragmatic ways and spend some time to settle and address the many cases before them.
The Regional Minister pointed out that the time and money and other resources spent in litigation could easily be channelled into more productive ventures for the benefit of majority of Ghanaians.
He advised the chiefs and other opinion leaders in the traditional area to initiate support for development projects that would improve the economic and social fortunes of the people.
Nii Ashietey advised landowners in the area to readily release land to investors along guidelines of the Land Use Planning and Management Programme, under the Land Use Project.
He assured the people that the bad roads in the district would soon be rehabilitated.
Mr David Assumeng, Member of Parliament for Shai-Osudoku, stressed the need for the people to co-exist peacefully, to ensure the area’s development and progress.
Mr Emmanuel Lartey, Dangme West District Chief Executive, urged the Chieftaincy Secretariat and the Regional House of Chiefs to expedite action on resolving amicably, the numerous chieftaincy-related issues pending within the district, to enable the people to develop in peace, unity and harmony.
Mr Lartey urged parents to take advantage of government’s social intervention policies, such as the capitation grant, the school feeding programme and the free school uniform package, and enroll their children in schools.
Nene Awate Bana Atrokpa, Tadornya Matse and Acting President of the Traditional Council recounted that, the festival whose theme was: “Strive Towards the Achievement of Peace and Unity in the Shai Traditional Area,” marked the end of a severe drought experienced by the people many years ago, which resulted in famine.
Nene Atrokpa said after incessant prayers, there was rain and the crops flourished, so the people experienced bumper harvest, and this ancient festival, thus derived its name from the staple food of the Dangmes, “Ngma”.
He announced that next year, an Educational Fund would be set up in the area to cater for brilliant but needy children of Shai.
He expressed concern about the poor road network in the area, and mentioned the Ayikuma-Doryumu and Dodowa-Afienya roads as typical examples of bad roads.
Nene Atrokpa urged government to help develop the tourist potentials in the area so that they could become sources of revenue for the people.