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February notes: (1) State Protocol, where is the flag gold?

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

Every knowledgeable source explaining the colours in the Ghana flag describes the central strip thus: “Gold represents the mineral wealth of the country”, or words to that effect. But do we see a true GOLD colour in all the flags on display in Ghana?

A question for the State Protocol Department (SPD): now where is the gold in the Ghana flag? Noticeably, many of the flags on display or on sale, sport a middle colour that is more sunshine yellow than gold.

But surely, flag designer Theodosia Okoh, had a good reason for using the colour gold. She reportedly put it this way: “The colour Gold was influenced by the mineral rich nature of our lands”.

True, Ghana has an abundance of sunshine, but Mrs. Okoh didn’t pay tribute to that resource. She chose to honour its mineral wealth, the reason for which the country was initially named, the Gold Coast.

So why has the gold colour vanished, or is vanishing, and now more and more is being replaced by yellow hues?

Little wonder that some reference sources, including the respected Encyclopedia Britannica, mistakenly describe the central colour as “yellow”. If we ourselves don’t seem to care about the original colour, we can’t expect that from outsiders.

If anybody can manufacture the national flag – as seems to be the case, judging by the variations – should they not be doing so according to specifications from the SPD?

And if manufacturers have been given specification, has emphasis been put on the colour gold? Also, is any official checking to see that institutions which fly the national flag on their premises know the ‘flag etiquette’?

My observation is that some of the places which display the national colours are not giving the flag due respect.
For example, as I confirmed this week Wednesday, the flags along the side of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital facing the Asylum Down traffic lights, opposite Delta House, are in a terrible state. Including the Ghana flag, they are: tattered, ends shredded and, needless to say, extremely dirty.

Whose duty is it to check the condition of the national flag on display at public venues?
On March 6, Ghana will be celebrating the 65th year of Independence, and, of course the country’s flag has a prominent role in such national observances.

The SPD should give Ghana a 65th birthday present with a double promise: to ensure that from now on, the Ghana flag will have the GOLD colour in the middle; and that there will be no ragged Ghana flag on display anywhere.
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(2) Information Services Department, please mind your language!
As expected, the ‘Operation Clean Your Frontage’ component of the ‘Make Accra Work’ initiative announced by Regional Minister Henry Quartey, took off on February 1.

However, reading the accompanying six educational messages circulated on social media by the Information Services Department, apart from the generally disappointing text, I was taken aback by the clearly anti-women tone of one of the six messages.

The Number 3 of the ‘Sanitation Awareness on Operation Clean Your Frontage’ states: “A landlady (emphasis added) or an occupier of a residential premises shall ensure that the drains, frontage, surroundings and up to the middle of the road are clean and kept neat at all times.”

Does it mean that if a property happens to be owned by a man, because of his gender he is exempted from keeping the premises “neat at all times”?
Of course that was only one of six such messages, but who know what else is being drafted for circulation? Instead of ‘landlady’, why not a neutral word like ‘owner?’

One expects that the ISD, being public/social educators, would be more aware of the need for gender sensitivity in such communication.
Sexist, patronising or chauvinistic language doesn’t befit the ISD!
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(3) Making Accra work, we need places of convenience too!
On the ‘Make Accra Work’ project itself, while applauding Mr Quartey for the initiative, I suggest that another component is needed: public urinals/toilets in the city.

By ‘public toilet’ I certainly don’t mean the awful, disgusting types the term conjures up. I mean decent, clean and neat washrooms, preferably with an attendant in charge, possibly charging a modest fee which could be used to help pay the salary of the attendant.

I imagine that Mr Quartey is implementing the Make Accra Work one segment at a time. Nevertheless, I’m suggesting that also in line with President Nana Akufo-Addo’s objective of making Accra the cleanest city in Africa, particular attention should be paid to constructing urinals/places of convenience in town.

Otherwise, what are people to do when in need in town? How will the tourists the country is desperately wooing manage if they find themselves in that embarrassment while in town?

Even in the capital city, where, for example, are the urinals? Say, between the Ako Adjei Interchange and the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, what should someone in serious need do?

Moreover, which of the country’s local assemblies demonstrate care about such matters? Is it any wonder that disgracefully insanitary conditions abound?

In the countries which we admire so much, when one is in town and nature calls and there is no public washroom nearby, one only looks for the nearest department store, transport terminal, fuel station or eatery, to use their conveniences.

This is also why all facilities, shops, buildings and institutions which serve the public, or are used for functions, must have decent toilets not only for their staff, but equally importantly, for the convenience of their patrons.

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