The use of culture to promote relevant and sustainable national development at the present time …A critical appraisal

The title of this article is an extract of the concluding paragraph of chapter 8 of the National Cultural Policy of Ghana, published by the National Commission On Culture in 2004.

The full text of this concluding paragraph is quoted here verbatim in the following: ‘’To put the policy into effect the National Commission On Culture shall develop a strategic plan that would define the priorities of the cultural sector and detail the actions and programme of activities that will enable all major stakeholders to participate in the effort to use culture to promote relevant and sustainable national development.’’

In the context of this important national cultural policy of Ghana for the promotion and development of the Ghanaian culture to effect a sustainable development of the country, one is tempted to pose the question: To what extent had the Ghanaian culture being used effectively to promote relevant and sustainable national development up to date?

Obviously, the answer to this important question will be subjective and different from person to person and in commensuration to the depth of knowledge that a person may have about culture and its invaluable contributions to the development of countries in the past ages and in the present modern world today.

By critical analysis and evaluation, I have the opinion that much is yet to be done with the Ghanaian culture in the context of a sustainable development of the country.

And for this reason, the National Commission On Culture and all its stakeholders must come together and thoroughly review what had been done up to date in the fulfilment of this important provision in the national cultural policy, and project the way forward for a pragmatic, meaningful and sustainable national development of the country.

This kind of review must be periodic and continual in the developmental programmes of the country; as the country continues to progress and advance towards the achievement of optimum economic growth, development and prosperity.

The Ghanaian culture and for that matter, all cultures of the world, are the sinequa non for a realistic, sustainable and meaningful developmental agenda.

The present ongoing development developmental agenda of Ghana, Ghana Beyond Aid can be fuelled and fired to accelerate its pace through the effective use of the Ghanaian culture.

In the present modern world today, the most developed, wealthy and powerful country is the U.S. This great achievement of the U.S is due to the effective development of the culture of the U.S to a very high level.

Similarly, in the same vein, the Chinese culture was systematically development by the Chinese over a period of time; and the ultimate result is what China is in the eyes of the world today, very wealthy, powerful and prosperous, almost at pair with the U.S if not at par!

Other well developed nations with economic prowess in Europe and Asia such as Britain, France, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Spain, Japan, India etc owe their present achievements, as a result of the systematic development of their cultures.

What then is culture? Culture is a very broad term. However, simply defined, culture is the sum total way of life of a group of people or nation for that matter, this includes the language they speak, the food they eat, the clothes or dress they wear, their beliefs, religion, worship, their customs and practices, their values, their music, their dance etc. In short culture is the character of a people or nation.

By nature, culture is dynamic but not stagnant; thus a culture of a people goes through evolution, development and refinement with time.

Consequently, the level of development of a country’s or nation’s culture corresponds to the level of her economic growth, development and prosperity.

Unfortunately, in the Ghanaian situation, there is much ignorance about what culture really is; and it is least understood, even among well-educated Ghanaians. Consequently, the systematic development of the Ghanaian culture to effect a sustainable national development had consistently suffered negligence to the detriment and disadvantage of the country in her strides towards achieving economic growth, development and prosperity.

Ghanaians look down upon their own culture and do not see the need to develop it properly and effectively to move the country forward in development as other countries of the world had done; and are still doing with their cultures to attain further development and prosperity.

It is very interesting to recall an occasion during the PNDC era of governance of this country when a PNDC Secretary, (name with withheld for respect) made this surprising remarks: is culture a super ministry or what? after a thorough and well prepared culture organisation lecture for the development of the country to be presented to the PNDC cabinet for implementation by the then Secretary for education and culture.

Dr. Mohammed Ben Abdullah; This as a typical example of the level of ignorance about the key role that culture plays in the national developmental aspiration of countries among well-educated and enlightened Ghanaians at top places and corridors of power.

The use of culture to promote relevant and sustainable national development at this present time in Ghana’s developmental agenda must be given priority attention, and addressed by the National Commission On Culture and all its stakeholders to impact effectively on Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda.

In spite of the widespread and deep ignorance about the priceless value of culture in national developmental programmes, I believe that with time, Ghanaians in all walks of life; both high and low and, particularlyamong the policy makers in the governance of this country, culture will be well understood to take its rightful place in the developmental aspirations of the country.

Ghana must use her culture properly and effectively to develop, as there is no any alternative, whatsoever, for the effective achievement of her developmental goals.

In conclusion, I am optimistic that Ghana will definitely in this 21st century of historic time, be able to develop her culture to a very high level as other countries had done in the modern world today so that she will be able to achieve optimum economic growth development and prosperity. The Ghanaian culture cannot be dispensed with in the continual developmental aspirations of the country.The Ghanaian culture must be seriously developed now, without further delay to the detriment of the country.

By Michael Akenoo, Theatre Critic

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