President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has eulogised acclaimed Ghanaian scholar, writer, ethnomusicologist and Africa’s foremost anthropologist, Emeritus Professor Joseph Hansen Kwabena Nketia, saying his sterling life’s work was a fortification for Ghana’s and Africa’s unique identity.
“Professor Nketia’s achievements are worth celebrating, because they give us formidable cultural capital to fortify our unique African identity, forge a great Ghanaian nation, and pursue our historic pan-African vocation. His life’s work is a great message for the youth, that the sky is the limit for anyone who wants to work hard.”
President Akufo-Addo made this known when he joined Prof. Nketia to celebrate his 96th Birthday at the Banquet Hall of the State House.
The event was organised by the African University of College of Communications (AUCC) to recognise the academic life and exemplary achievements of the legend.
President Akufo-Addo said Prof. Nketia’s ideas and works, which had been recognised globally and become the standard for many scholars around the world, should be applied to nation building, because “he has given us the gilded marbles, retrieved from the past, and it is our duty to incorporate them in the architecture of our culture and national identity, going forward.”
Noting that Prof. Nketia’s life’s experiences pointed to the crucial significance of inclusive education, President Akufo-Addo said education that applied local knowledge to foreign ones was what Ghana needed “at this point where holistic cultures and identities play key roles in how to navigate the challenges posed by globalisation.”
“Education is the equaliser of opportunity. At this juncture in our nation’s history, broad access to education is vital if we are to transform our economy from one dependent on the production and export of raw materials to a value-added, industrialised one.
“That is the rationale of the Free Senior High School Policy. It is meant to ensure that the doors of education, at least up to the end of senior high school, are open to all, irrespective of the circumstances of birth. An educated workforce is our surest bet of ensuring the progress and prosperity of our nation,” he said.
The President said education, which combined performing arts and the humanities, was what would define the identity and cohesiveness of Ghanaians, and expressed confidence that the works of Prof. Nketia would help Ghana “reclaim its past, nourish the present and seize the future to construct a modern, democratic nation based on equity, respect and inclusion.”
“We will then build a new Ghanaian civilisation, a Ghana beyond Aid, a new flowering of Ghanaian art and culture,” the President said.
An elated Prof. Nketia encouraged the younger generation to take interest in the cultural heritage of the country and to continuously find ways of improving “our ethnicity and culture” which was central to the existence and development of the nation.