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TV monitoring report of Ghana’s 63rd independence day ceremony

Sun, 8 Mar 2020 Source: Isaac Ato Mensah

The Baba Yara Sports Stadium Friday saw a mixture of Ghana and ghana – nostalgia and some sub-par performances.

Let us share our observations.

National pledge – the president placed his right hand on his belly instead of his heart/left breast.

A cameraman, was seen running in front of the president’s moving SUV, and later other cameramen ran through the president’s convoy while security personnel looked on.

The resplendent police mounted squadron again escorted the president because we run a civilian administration and the police are designated for civilian duties.

But then the parade inspection was just odd: an 18 year-old jumpy horse with an 8-year record of parade attendance gave the parade adjutant trouble, and an inspection team was seen driving out of tandem.

When the GTV commentator asked why, military commentator Veronica Arhin explained that the inspection is for ceremonial purposes only; suggesting that this mess can be allowed to pass.

The president appeared in a casual linen white long sleeve shirt with two strips of kente on the left and right over a black pair of trousers.

And when he mounted the podium in readiness for the “national salute”, he kept adjusting his trousers – why?

At that juncture, the GTV production team made matters difficult by keeping the camera on POTROG.

Attention: POTROG should not bow to anyone; patronage does not extend to everything.

The sea of kente, as observed by GTV was indeed beautiful.

The attendees must be commended for a rich display of kente and other traditional wear.

However, the entire history of kente as delivered by Teacher Kantanka, “the Manhyia Palace historian” who gave supporting commentary, contained inaccuracies.

His emphasis on only Asante kente was odd.

Teacher Kantanka, spoke of a Bonwire native presenting a set of kente to the Kumasihene or first Asantehene, Osei Tutu I, as the advent of the kente.

Does that mean Bonwire kente is just 300 years old?

Teacher Kantanka said: “The Asante were the last group to be colonised. The Asante were fighting for their independence. But they decided that let’s drop our independence and join the Gold Coast for their independence. Let’s join the rest of our brothers and sisters for their independence. And so it was a great sacrifice from the Asante”.

When, if ever, is anyone entitled to their own facts?

The abridged version of the national anthem played when the vice president took the podium came up for questioning by the GTV commentator but the military commentator’s explanation that the full version is reserved for the president was unconvincing.

She explained that it was a tradition in the military but fell short of telling us why.

How did Oti Region pass all scrutiny and come through with the wrong banner inscription “Greatful for giving us a Region Your Excellency!”?

Surely our fits of mediocrity cannot be so virulent as to infect a brand new region.

Positive: The anniversary anthem by the Bekwai SDA Senior High School was splendid. And their rendition of Ephraim Amu’s “Ma Oman yi mu….Ghanaman ye w’ara wo dzi” provided a sublime patriotic moment.

Positive: Of course the Armed Forces Central Band is always spectacular.

Then there were soldiers in track suits warming up for drills in the azonto mix of young female head porters (kayayei) carrying brand new head pans marching past the national flag.

Now those sponsoring the kayayei – for votes – and predisposing young girls to a difficult lifestyle do not need any moles to expose them.

And then there was the “Association of Bush meat sellers” displaying their banner and marching past in the age of Coronavirus and Ebola.

The cameras rightly captured a school girl holding her mouth as the “Physical Instructors” jumped through a ring of fire.

The military commentator promptly reminded us: “Do not try this [tattoo] at home”.

The march past and tattoo took almost three hours from about 10am to a few minutes to 1pm, and still, the President of Trinidad and Tobago, and our president had not yet addressed the gathering.

The praise singing and chants led by the military to civilian traditional rulers should raise eyebrows, not so?

When POTROG was finally called by the MC, obviously earlier than scheduled, he had to stand and wait for 10 minutes of appellations and more traditional praise singing.

POTROG’s list of independence stalwarts began with Yaa Asantewaa and ended with Deede Ashikisha, a wealthy Ga lady who reportedly financed Kwame Nkrumah through her wheat flour trade but POTROG could not pronounce that name.

Aah well who bothers to speak Ga anyway especially in Kumasi – or Accra?

What he said or rather failed to say about our preparedness for Covid-19 aka Coronavirus clearly showed that we still have a lot of catching up to do.

The colours were marched off at 1:54pm.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah