God Bless Our Homeland Ghana, originally written and composed by Philip Gbeho and adopted in 1957 when the country gained independence from the British, is the national anthem of Ghana. Make no mistake, like many other Ghanaians, I cherish my national anthem as a great song.
Most Ghanaians, be they adults or schoolchildren, have once in their lives heard, recited or sang this all-important anthem; but how many of us understand the words in the anthem and can confidently say we are adhering to and upholding the values the anthem teaches.
Not only schoolchildren but many of the citizenry, including politicians, know and recite the anthem without reflecting on its importance to nation building. Knowing and reciting our national anthem is not enough, but understanding and practising it is what matters most. Indeed, what is the significance of a national anthem to a country and why do we need it?
Patriotism and nationalism
In my view, our national anthem teaches us to have a selfless devotion to nation building, helps unite the citizenry and ignites patriotism and nationalism among the citizenry.
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When we go through Ghana’s national anthem line by line and stanza by stanza, it admonishes us on what to do and what not to do as a sovereign nation.
The first line of the first stanza of the anthem reads: “God bless our homeland Ghana, And make our nation great and strong.” The truth of the matter is how do we as citizens position the country for God to bless the nation and for it to be great and strong?
The same stanza emboldens Ghanaians to be ‘Bold to defend forever the cause of Freedom and of Right’ and teaches us to fill our hearts with true humility, cherish fearless honesty, and help us to resist oppressors' rule with all our will and might forever more.
Humility vrs fearless honesty
If we should ask how many of us, as Ghanaians, practise what the anthem teaches us to do in our daily lives, the answer will vary from person to person and many of us will be found wanting.
For instance, we don’t wish or claim humility and fearless honesty but we must live and act it. If we merely recite or sing the national anthem without understanding and acting it, then our patriotic acts could be in doubt.
To be patriotic and nationalistic, there is the need to make conscious effort to support the well-being of the country by positioning it to be great and strong.
Simply put, our patriotism should be judged by our acts.
We cannot help to build a strong and great nation if for instance some of our legislators are accused of ‘taking double salary’ and multiple ex gratia at the expense of the citizenry. How on earth can we in this country pay our legislators double salary and in another breath consider it as a top-up? Elsewhere in the advanced world, such a thing will never happen because the regulatory systems and structures are working to the hilt.
We live in a country where get-rich-quick is the order of the day. We hear of acts or perceived acts of corruption each passing day. Many of us are no more selfless but greedily selfish with a veracious appetite to grab everything that comes our way and belongs to the nation Ghana.
Is life really all about money as the Ghanaian society tends to portray? We do not ask for the source of our wealth and anything is acceptable in this country.
Our political actors are constantly engaged in issues tainted with propaganda. It is increasingly becoming very difficult to decipher truth from falsehood.
Our civil service and technocrats cannot also escape blame for the failings of society. Many of them have become partisan and the well-being of the nation is relegated to a secondary status.
This is not what Ghana’s national anthem teaches.
We need to go back to the basics and learn the true meaning of the national anthem which teaches us to be truthful, brave, honest, law-abiding, loving and tolerant; practices we are not adhering to or just not doing them right.
Revolution in our thinking
Over the period, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has been calling for a revolution in our thinking and belief where we work towards a Ghana beyond aid. Like United States (US) former President Barack Obama came with the Yes We Can and the Americans embraced it, President Akufo-Addo is also trying to push Ghanaians to believe in themselves and cultivate the can-do attitude. Even though a section of the society describes it as rhetoric, I believe they are great ideals that if we work at, it can be successful and make this country great and strong. God bless our home land Ghana.