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Weekend Talk: Cultural values we cherish

BY: The writer Lawrence Darmani

We are informed that culture is the way of life of a people. And as people’s “way of life” is constantly changing, they also say culture is dynamic or evolving.

Simply put, culture is like the earth that is continually rotating on its axis while moving around the sun. That is how complex our way of life is.

Now, given our day-to-day interaction with people from other cultures, our culture is bound to be changing—positively or negatively.

This is compounded by the fact that humans are social beings with the penchant to copy lifestyles from other cultures.

The purpose of discussing our cultural values, therefore, is to remind us that despite the influx of other cultures into ours, we must protect the beauty and value of our own.

And you must have noticed how each of the values we are discussing is steeped in godly values based on biblical truths.

Hard work

Work and happiness was a combined value that grew with us from pre-independence and thereafter.

“Hard work never kills,” my father used to tell us. Ghanaians are reportedly excelling in other countries through being hard working.

We value hard work and the dignity of labour as a means of achieving economic independence and wealth.

Laziness is despised, and this is often reflected in folk tales, songs, and proverbs that slight the lazy person.

Consequently, our farmers, factory workers, civil and public servants, entrepreneurs, managers, and students are all required to work hard.

Integrity

We say in Ghana that “Honesty is the best policy”, which would seem to suggest that Ghanaians value integrity.

Of course, as a cultural value, Ghanaians love to be told that we are a people of integrity.

But because talk is cheap, self-acclaimed compliments like that are usually unable to stand the reality. Hence, this cultural value demands that we do a critical self-introspection.

When integrity is defined and measured along our lifestyle, we may be found wanting.

A person of integrity is honest, reliable, truthful and upright. Is honesty still the best policy for us in the light of these synonyms of integrity.

Fellow-feeling

“Being in the same soup” is an idiomatic expression that establishes the Ghanaian compassion for one another.

The spirit of fellow-feeling causes us to accept that we are our brothers’ keepers, which then determines how kindly we treat one another.

How beautiful it is when we rush to help someone who is hurt and who is in some kind of trouble!

It is this “fellow-feeling” for one another that enables us to dwell together peacefully even when tension rises.

Boldness

Courage and bravery are values that make for progress. Timidity and cowardice make a person fail to seize opportunities, and they will prevent us from doing what is right.

For example, to resist the oppressor’s rule, as enshrined in our national anthem, we need courage and boldness.

So the legendary queen mother of Ejisu, Yaa Asantewa, boldly rose up to lead her people in resisting the oppressive British invaders.

Boldness helps us to venture into new endeavours that will yield good fruits. It is a value we need to constantly exercise.

Loyalty

Royalty is a hallmark of our good feelings towards Ghana, to the extent that in our national pledge, we vow to be “loyal and faithful to Ghana our motherland.”

Our sense of nationalism fuels our faithfulness and devotion to our beloved country.

Even when harsh economic hardships and political upheavals force Ghanaians out of the country to the diaspora, we never forget Ghana.

We owe allegiance to Ghana for all the benefits we derive from being Ghanaian. That is why the matter of dual citizenship becomes a big issue to deal with.

Even if we come to hold dual citizenship, our allegiance to our country cannot be compromised.

Patriotism resembles loyalty, but it is devoid of xenophobia tendencies; for our hospitality makes us welcome people of all races.

Wherever Ghanaians are, we feel we belong to a common heritage.

Patriotism makes us say “Ghana first” before our own narrow interests.

We are one people with a common destiny, which is reflected in our constant fight against tribalism.

Tendencies that make us portray a negative national image are culturally unacceptable.

Good neighbourliness

It is a Ghanaian cultural value that pulls us to live together in peace. The traditional Ghanaian homestead encourages community sharing and good neighbourliness.

That is the essence of the round houses and thatch roofing of northern Ghana. They are culturally significant and they symbolise togetherness.

When we allow tribal and community wars to destroy our peaceful coexistence, we do ourselves a great harm.

As we noted earlier, culture is dynamic. Where modernity demands that we make changes, we need to be prudent to choose the best and discard the worse from other cultures that seek to influence us negatively.

Therefore, as we conclude our discussion, note that this list of our cultural values is by no means exhaustive.