In his inaugural address as the 35th President of the United States of America on Friday, January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy made this profound statement: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
That statement has become a reference point to mobilise people towards acts that are symptomatic of patriotic and selfless duties towards society.
Ghanaians are not found wanting when devotion to and support for their country are mentioned.
In fact, in traditional Ghanaian societies, patriotism is a must-have value.
Many people believe that it is this quality which, in the colonial era, motivated the people and politicians of the day to fight for Ghana’s independence and freedom.
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In the early 1980s, the patriotic and self-help nature of the Ghanaian was at its best.
In what was termed communal labour, the people built toilets, markets, among other amenities, and mobilised to frequently clean their surroundings.
But that spirit in the Ghanaian seems to be waning.
These laudable initiatives are seen only in a few individuals and mainly some non-governmental organisations.
The sad reality is that apathy towards the national cause seems to have reached an all-time high.
Steadily but gradually Ghanaians have forgotten the enormous obligation that freedom bestows on them. Happenings around us suggest that we erroneously think freedom should be a licence for indiscipline, with the attendant unpleasant result of the outbreak of cholera and the many preventable fatal road crashes that we witness almost on a daily basis.
We are also neck deep in bribery and corruption.
But in the face of all these, the situation is not all hopeless; the patriotic spirit can still be seen in many Ghanaians.
A group of young Asante indigenes and businessmen and women called the ‘Asante Professionals Club’ has initiated a 10-year development plan for the Ashanti Region to complement the efforts by the government to develop the region, with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, launching a $100-million development fund for the initiative (see page 20).
Though individual citizens have launched various plans to help accelerate development in some parts of the country, the initiative by the club has taken self-help a notch higher and the Daily Graphic lauds the initiators for this laudable idea.
We note that the Ashanti Region has blazed the trail as far as initiatives for the general good are concerned. We recall the Otumfuo Educational Fund that has helped many from across the country to access higher education.
The fund has also had a huge impact on teaching and learning, as it has rewarded hardworking teachers for their role in the development of education.
To all intents and purposes, the Otumfuo Educational Fund has been successful, and it is the reason we are thrilled that the Asantehene is involved with the development plan.
Certainly, the Otumfuo will put his experiences with his educational fund and other engagements at the disposal of the Asante Professionals Club to make it attain the goal set for itself.
We entreat citizens in other areas of the country to emulate the group, and as we do so, we entreat the club to liaise with both the local and the national governments so that their activities will truly complement development and not duplicate it.
Our hope also is that the club will tap the ideas of seasoned development-related professionals to help it fashion the best possible plan to realise its aim.
The Daily Graphic, once again, commends the club because "if a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich”.