May 31, 2012 at 11:12am
World Day For Cultural Diversity
COMMENTARY ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE WORLD DAY FOR CULTURAL DIVERSITY, DIALOGUE AND DEVELOPMENT
Ghana is today celebrating the International Day for Cultural Diversity, Dialogue and Development under the theme "Cultural Diversity, Cultural Expression for Peace and National Development".
It is a day set aside by UNESCO to create a common platform for sharing ideas by the world community towards peace building and national development.
The Day also provides the world with opportunity to deepen understanding of the values of cultural Diversity and to learn to cooperate and collaborate on issues of international concern.
In this regard it is hoped that all persons irrespective of gender, social status and educational achievements have the right to express themselves and to create and disseminate their work in the language of their choice.
Traditional Cultural expressions include music, designs, art, names, symbols, performances among others.
It is estimated that the world today has over 600 communities and as many distinct cultural differences including languages.
This naturally leads to diversity of vision, values, beliefs, practices and expressions which deserve equal respect and dignity.
In recent times, the world is engulfed in a lot of conflicts.
Almost every continent has its fair share of civil strife and war.
Basically, the major reason attributed to these conflicts is political in nature.
However, it has been established that beneath the political causes of conflict are social and cultural considerations which have built up over the years and are ready to explode at the least opportunity.
The failure to appreciate the differences in our cultural diversity has become a bane to national development programmes in most parts of the world, particularly Africa.
Africa has seen a lot of wars and other forms of conflicts.
In Ghana the significance of the day is commemorated at the W.E.B.
Du Bois Centre for Pan African Studies under the auspices of the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and UNESCO Ghana office.
The importance of the Day to us in Ghana cannot be over emphasized.
It is estimated that Ghana has over 50 ethnic groups whose common values and institutions represent our collective national heritage.
Each of these groups has a unique history, cultural features and traditions that give identity, self respect and pride to the people.
Since independence, Ghana recognizes the need to promote unity within this cultural Diversity.
The fact is that our culture remains the basis of and the most important factor in the nation's human and material development.
Our history, cultural values and institutions must continue to exercise a deep influence on the nation's destiny and play a key role in our governance and national life.
Article 39, under the Directive Principle of State Policy prescribes Culture as a necessary tool of national integration and development.
As we draw closer to the general elections in December, it is important for us to tap into the strength and advantages of our cultural diversity as a nation.
In whatever sphere of life we find ourselves, there is the need for citizens to embrace dialogue as a peace building mechanism in a quest for national development.
It is true that opinions, values, beliefs, practices may vary on account of history, language and ethnicity, but these should serve as sources of strength.
As a nation with a common vision, let the day instill on the citizens the need for peace and tolerance in the collective effort of building a vibrant and prosperous nation.
BY: NELSON KOFI AKATEY, MEDIA PRACTITIONER AND PRO, MINISTRY OF CHIEFTAINCY AND CULTURE, ACCRA