A few days ago, by chance I caught the tail end of a news item on TV 3 which immediately ignited my interest. It was about a new album by popular, inimitable gospel musician Nicholas Omane Acheampong, probably as renowned for his flamboyant costumes as for his hits.
He was passionately explaining the title track which is championing an issue I wrote about earlier this year, pointing out that Ghana’s pet name or nickname is not ‘Ama Ghana’, but rather ‘Akua Ghana’.
When I contacted the musician (of ‘Tabitha-Kum’ and Zaphanet-Paneah’ fame), he confirmed that in the title track of the album launched on October 5, he is campaigning for people to start calling our country by its rightful ‘day-name’. He said he was inspired by a “message from God” to tell the country that Ghana’s name should not be changed to Ama.
He was evidently surprised at the news that I drew attention to the misnomer in this column some months ago; he said he didn’t know that.
The intriguing message of two of the eight-track album, entitled simply ‘Akua 57’ is that Ghana should be called by her correct name, ‘Akua Ghana’, because the country got its Independence on March 6, 1957, which fell on a Wednesday. The songs stress the negative effect on Ghana of changing God’s will, he told me.
“God has given us everything in this country to make us a prosperous nation, so why are we wallowing in hardship?” he asked. In his view, the answer is straightforward:”Instead of giving glory to God by using the God-given Akua, Akua Ghana, we have wilfully changed the name to Ama.”
In his opinion, this is a challenge to God and that alone can change the country’s destiny. Indeed, he strongly believes that most of Ghana’s woes stem from people disregarding the country’s correct appellation, Akua Ghana.
To refresh readers’ memories, the following is an abridged version of my article published on March 14, 2014:
Inexplicably, it appears that when it comes to the name of our country, an error has been made.
Our country has somehow been given a wrong week-day appellation and that wrong name seems to have been accepted without questions being asked. I’m referring to the term ‘Ama Ghana’, which somehow has become a nickname or pet name for this country and is heard on some radio stations.
As we know, Ama is the name for a girl born on Saturday, so this leads to the question: was March 6, 1957 a Saturday? The answer is no! March 6, 1957 was in fact a Wednesday – whose day name for a girl is Akua. So, if they must use a nickname, why are people not calling the country ‘Akua Ghana’?
The mystery is, why Ama and when did our country become ‘Ama Ghana’? At what meeting was it decided that Ama should be the country’s first or pet name?
My attention was drawn to this whimsical anomaly recently during a chance meeting at Dormaa-Ahenkro with a retired Ghana Television colleague, Kofi Asamoah. Mr Asamoah was clearly very passionate about it. He pointed out to me that March 6, 1957 was a Wednesday, not a Saturday, so our country should not be called Ama even in jest.
Mr Asamoah noted that Peace FM, which he listens to a lot, is the worst offender. “Please ask Peace FM why they have been saying ‘Ama Ghana’ because they do that more than other radio stations.”
He explained that his concern is that in this country “we have a tendency to say nothing when something is wrong until it’s too late to make amends. Even the founding President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah never said we should call the country Ama Ghana, so why are they doing that?
“On the other hand, if Parliament has said that the country should be Ama Ghana, I wouldn’t have a problem, but Parliament hasn’t said that. Please help get this corrected.”
Asked why he feels so strongly about the matter, he told me simply: “It’s my duty as a patriotic citizen to help get usage of this wrong name stopped.”
Sure enough, when I checked, the Perpetual Calendar confirmed that Mr Asamoah is right: the day that Osagyefo declared the birth of Ghana was indeed a Wednesday.
Still seeking a possible reason for the ‘Ama’, I also checked the day of the signing of the landmark Bond of March 6, 1844, from which the Independence date was derived and discovered that the 1844 date, too, fell on a Wednesday! (The Bond, signed with some Fante chiefs, is said to have “signified the first official moves by Britain to assure herself of control over the Gold Coast”.)
I recall that growing up, I knew a fanatical woman supporter of Dr Nkrumah who went by the name Ama Ghana. Also, I recall that a couple of years ago, there was a popular Ghanaian language film titled ‘Ama Ghana’. Could either of those be the reason for the misnomer?
Whatever, the reason it seems to me that this misnaming has highlighted one problem, a seeming national characteristic, of people not questioning things, leading to copying practices blindly.
My observation is that the ‘Ama Ghana’ as well as the (other) examples of wrong usage all stem from our reluctance to question things, to check that what we are copying is right.
This leads me back to the Ama Ghana problem.
If we love our country so much that we want to have a pet name for her, should that fondness not reflect in the care with which we choose the name?
Hopefully, the worry of Mr Kofi Asamoah of Dormaa-Ahenkro will attract attention and interest in the relevant quarters and will lead to ‘Akua Ghana’ replacing ‘Ama Ghana’ from now on.
After all, the Sankofa proverb assures us that ‘if you forget something and go back for it, it’s not a taboo’.