Rawlings honoured with Marcus Garvey Award

BY: Isaac Yeboah
President Rawlings receives the award from the Deputy Chairperson of the AU, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey
President Rawlings receives the award from the Deputy Chairperson of the AU, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey

Former President Jerry John Rawlings has once again called for a concerted national effort to protect the country’s trees and forests, taking a swipe at some world leaders who are dismissive of the threat of global warming.

Rawlings called for an urgent effort to address re-afforestation, stating that it used to be a part of our national culture, championed by school children, churches, and civil society.

The former President also described as baffling that even some among the so-called ‘educated powers’ are dismissive of global warming adding as the debate has raged on with insistent cautions about the damage to the environment, others have found reasons and ways to argue the opposite.

In a speech read on his behalf at the first Marcus Garvey Awards Ball and Banquet organized by the Black Star Line Credit Union at the Swiss Spirit Alisa Hotel in Accra on Saturday, Flt Lt Rawlings commended the government for launching the Youth in Afforestation Programme aimed at re-afforestation, forest rehabilitation, and forest protection.

He said: “This vision can however not be achieved without the passionate commitment that our country had paid to such activity in the past as a collective. I personally entreat all to embrace this as a national project for our own future, survival and as our duty to the earth.”

Former President Rawlings also criticized the situation in Yemen where for the past few years Saudi Arabia has taken sides in a civil conflict in the country with regular airstrikes which have claimed the lives of innocent men, women and children. He said it was a crying shame that for years thousands have died a wicked and terrible death, with children living in extreme hunger, thirst, and torture of extreme deprivation.

The former President called out the United Nations, saying: “It is a terrible indictment that the United Nations and its allied agencies have allowed this humanitarian disaster to last for so long! The media, especially Al Jazeera had repeatedly been exposing and highlighting the bombing and killing of innocent Yemeni men, women and children but the world looked on unconcerned.

“Our so-called defenders of international human rights and decency seemed totally oblivious to the horror in Yemen. A week ago, the UN Secretary General suddenly had the veil lifted off his eyes when over 30 children were killed in a Saudi airstrike and called for an enquiry into the bombing of the bus load of children,” former President Rawlings said.

The hypocrisy, President Rawlings stated, must stop. The lack of global conscience concerning the situation in Yemen and Palestine and a host of other vulnerable states cannot continue forever. The United Nations, countries of the West and all right-thinking global citizens should wake up and pull the stops on this brazen cruelty.

Commending Marcus Garvey for his vision of emancipation and unity of the black race, Flt Lt Rawlings said the fact that the Banquet and Ball was held under the umbrella of economic emancipation reflected the core essence of Garvey’s work.

He said Garvey demonstrated a huge marriage between social responsibility, commercial and economic development adding that corruption and greed will never bring Africa any good fortune.

The former President said: “Many of the obstacles that confront our common emancipation have unfortunately remained constant: internal competition and personality clashes; tribalism and nepotism; greed and compromise of our people - especially our leaders; economic subservience and neo-colonialism as the modern version of black slavery. We have learnt from Garvey and many others after him, that visions founded on honest reflections of common experience and truth will inspire and command mass followership and support.”

The former President was honoured with the first Marcus Garvey award for his contribution to Diaspora Relationship Development. In a citation accompanying the award he was commended for the establishment of the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and innovations such as Panafest and Emancipation Day.

Receiving the award, Flt Lt Rawlings said: “If you don’t have the spirit to defy what is wrong then you won’t be able to defend freedom and justice.”

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