There was a colourful display of the rich Ghanaian culture and arts at the forecourt of the State House last Saturday, where a durbar and exhibition were also held to mark the start of the week-long National Arts and Culture Festival (NAFAC) 2016.
Notable among the traditional leaders were the Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Adama Latse; The Aflao Chief, Togbui Amenya Fiti V, who represented the Volta Regional House of Chiefs; the Paramount Chief of the Tumu Traditional Area and Kuoro, Richard Banini Kanton VI, who represented the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs.
The Asantehene was represented by Okofo Sobin Kan II, Dompoasehene, the Kukuom Omanhene, Osahene Kwaku Aterkyi II, represented the Brong Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs, while the Upper East Regional House of Chiefs was represented by the Paramount Chief of Bongo Traditional Area, Bonaba Baba Salifu Atamale Lemyaarun.
The Council of Zongo Chiefs was led by Chief Immoro Baba Issah.
The week-long festival is hosted in turns by a different region every year.
This year’s festival is on the theme: “Promoting a culture of peace for national unity, social cohesion and economic empowerment.”
Activities lined up for the festival include the celebration of regional days, music and comedy night, beauty pageant, football gala, exhibition, international friendship night, and women and children’s day.
In a speech read on his behalf, President John Dramani Mahama said there was the need for the country to continue to promote oneness, unity and inclusiveness.
“There can be no better time than now to translate our national unity in cultural diversity into an asset to nurture Ghanaian creativity and ingenuity,” he said.
The culture and creative industry, the President said, was a growing sector that deserved greater attention for it to make “a significant contribution to national development, particularly in employment creation, poverty reduction, gender and youth employment and the sustainable use of natural resources and conservation ecosystems.”
President Mahama said there was the need to forge a holistic and integrated approach towards enhancing the economic viability of cultural institutions and the resourcefulness of practitioners, while reviving traditional technologies, developing local markets and gaining access to international markets.
With support from the government of Japan, he said more than 3,000 youth from some selected regions were receiving training in fine arts, basketry, jewellery, traditional pottery and textile, leatherware, fashion design and bead making among others, at regional pilot training centres.
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu Adjare, who also addressed the gathering, said the creative industry had carved a niche market by repositioning the industry to support self-employment and job creation.
She said NAFAC offered a platform for the people of the various regions to display the very best of their culture and promote peace and unity among the various ethnic groups.
To ensure Ghana’s creative industry remained globally competitive, Mrs Ofosu Adjare said measures had been put in place to improve service delivery.
The Creative Industry Bill, she said, was currently receiving the necessary attention. She added that the expectation was that the passage of the bill into law would lead to the creation of a legally constituted council for the creative arts industry.
The Osu Mantse, Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona VI, who chaired the function, urged all members of the public to preserve the peace of the nation.
“Politicians must avoid the use of insults and rather present issues; social commentators must stop the accusations and counter accusations in the media,” he advised. He further cautioned: “The Electoral Commission is the only institution mandated to announce the final results of the polls so nobody should declare the results.”
Nii Dowuona also urged the youth not to be influenced by money to foment trouble during and after the elections.