Batakari, a traditional attire of the people in the northern part of the country, has been officially declared a National Friday Wear to be worn on the first Friday of every month.
The initiative is to boost the patronage of made-in-Ghana goods and to step up the international appeal and reach of batakari.
It is also to boost employment and the incomes of the large number of people the batakari industry employs.
The project is being spearheaded by the Savannah Accelerated Development Agency (SADA), in collaboration with the Ghana office of the World Bank, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry and facilitated by a Ghanaian professional photographer, Mr Rodney Quarcoo.
Speaking at the launch of the batakari day in Accra yesterday, the World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Mr Henry Kerali, said the bank’s decision to partner the project was because it would create more jobs.
“The goal of the bank is to promote poverty reduction and shared prosperity, and this starts and ends with jobs,” he said.
Mr Kerali said he had seen the statistics on poverty in the northern part of the country and contended that there was no reason why northern Ghana and, for that matter, the country as a whole, should be poor.
He said it should be possible for Ghana to turn the savannah ecological belt into a major food basket and growth pole in a manner that would positively enhance the developmental efforts of the country.
“As an organisation, we have a number of active projects currently being implemented in the SADA zone. I believe we can and should do a lot more to harness all these untapped resources and use them to improve the lot of the people in the Savannah zone and, ultimately, Ghana as a whole,” Mr Kerali said.
He, therefore, challenged the government and SADA to step in with more vigour and come up with implementable action plans from those that already existed, review those that needed to be reviewed and add new ones, if necessary.
He said the development partners, for their part, were taking steps to consolidate efforts and support to the development process in the north in a more efficient and effective manner.
The acting Board Chairman of SADA, Mr Adam Sule, said the surest way of eradicating poverty in the northern regions was to promote their culture, adding that the promotion of batakari, as a national Friday wear, was in fulfilment of one of the key mandates of SADA, which was to create employment.
For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of SADA, Mr Charles Abugri, said the country could expand the frontiers of its economy by exporting more of locally produced items such as the batakari and finding artistic creation in local resources.
He reiterated that about 54 per cent of the country, which constituted the savannah zone, was endowed with untapped wealth that ought to be harnessed.
Proud and unique identity
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu Agyare, who launched the Friday wear, said wearing batakari not only gave Ghanaians a proud and unique identity, but promoted employment creation and helped to address the rural-urban drift.
She said there were a good number of young people in the northern part of the country who were ready to produce batakari in large quantities but were waiting for the rest of Ghana to popularise the dress.
She, therefore, encouraged the public to love and promote batakari to give practical proof to the call to build local capacities.
Mrs Ofosu Agyare also impressed on the public to travel up north to know more about batakari, saying “the time is fugu time”.
The occasion was used to exhibit some beautifully produced batakari amid a rich display of northern music and dance by the Ghana National Dance Ensemble.
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