Former President Jerry John Rawlings has been honoured with the maiden Marcus Garvey Award for his contribution towards the development of diaspora relationships.
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 last Saturday in Accra, 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.”
Marcus Garvey Awards
In a speech read on his behalf at the first Marcus Garvey Awards Ball and Banquet organised by the Black Star Line Credit Union at the Swiss Spirit Alisa Hotel in Accra, Flt Lt Rawlings commended the government for launching the Youth in Afforestation Programme aimed at reafforestation, forest rehabilitation and forest protection.
He said: “This vision can, however, not be achieved without the passionate commitment that our country paid to such activity in the past.
“I personally entreat all to embrace this as a national project for our own future, survival and as our duty to the earth.”
Vision of emancipation
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 would never bring Africa any good fortune.
The former President stated: “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.”
Protect country’s forest
Former President Rawlings 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, he called for an urgent effort to address reafforestation, stating that it used to be a part of our national culture, championed by schoolchildren, churches and civil society.
The former President also described as baffling the situation that even some so-called ‘educated powers’ were dismissive of global warming, adding that as the debate raged on with insistent cautions about the damage to the environment, others had found reasons and ways to argue the opposite.
The former President also criticised the situation in Yemen where for the past few years, Saudi Arabia had taken sides in a civil conflict in the country with regular airstrikes which had claimed the lives of innocent men, women and children.
He said it was a crying shame that for years, thousands had died a wicked and terrible death, with children living in extreme hunger, thirst and deprivation.