General

Of National Honours and Seemingly Neglect of Creative Artistes

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Actor Agya Koo displaying his 2008 Award

His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama on Saturday October 29 conferred Ghana’s National Honours and Awards on 33 distinguished Ghanaians and foreigners for their outstanding contribution to the development of the country.

The President, last year also awarded 33 personalities. The National Honours and Awards have been part of the country since Ghana became a Republic in 1960. However, it wasn’t until President Kufuor’s regime that the Honours gained much public attention for both the positive and negative reasons.

President Kufuor, in 2006 instituted June 30 every year as National Honours Day. In the first edition, he conferred honours on 165 individuals. In 2007, 76 recipients were honoured, and in 2008, 241 honours were conferred.

The President’s justification for the seemingly huge number of awardees was that there were a lot of Ghanaians who had been ignored for a long time, and that he sought to correct that. But his critics felt he had cheapened the Honours by adopting a wholesale approach.

The criticisms became more intense, when he honoured personalities in the media and the creative arts front: people his critics claimed were too “lightweight” for those honours.

In Ghana, there are four main Awards: Order of the Star of Ghana, Order of the Volta, Medal for Gallantry and Grand Medal, with their various divisions.

President John Kufuor, in 2008 added the controversial Order of the Star and Eagles of Ghana, one he said was reserved for former Heads of State and President of Ghana, an award President Mills will later outlaw in 2010.

Kufuor’s Honours for the Sector
It may be out of place for me to appear to call for, in this write-up, the inclusion of creative arts persons. I have never heard of lawyers, doctors, engineers or teachers complain for being “snubbed” during these national honours, may be because they are always there.

The number of awardees of political allies of the government in power cannot be over glossed. I am by no way suggesting they do not deserve the honours. The President’s prerogative prevails, of course in consultation with his team.

If so, then why were the critics of Kufuor that intense when the likes of Agya Koo were honoured? He was touted as “concert” and that the President had desecrated the Awards.

I had issues with the approach President Kufuor adopted, of course based on precedence, where only the “aged” were considered distinguished. However, it appears there are too many unsung heroes out there that are dying unrecognised.

In the awards that President Kufuor oversaw, Nana Kwame Ampadu, Dzifa Glikpoe, David Dontoh and Kwaku Darko, popularly known as Super OD, C.K. Mann, Amakye Dede, A.B. Crentsil, Paapa Yankson, Jewel Ackah and Grace Omaboe were awarded.

Other notable mentions are Nana Bosompra, Producer, Osofo Dadzie Drama Group, Adu Kofi Mensah (Agya Koo), Efo Kojo Mawugbe, Kwabena Yamoah, J.A. Adofo, Asabea Cropper, Thomas Frimpong, Bice Osei Kufuor (Obuor), Amy Newman, Ohemaa Mercy, Christian Love, Elder Akwesi Mireku, Nii Ashitey, (Wulomei cultural troop), Da Efua Dokernoo, Mr. Essirifi Bondzi, Music Producer, Fred Amugi, Mr. Mc Jordan Amartey, George B. Williams. Grace Nortey, Tommy Annan Forson, Amankwa Ampofo.

It was worth noting that Mr. Osei Bonsu Sarfo Katanka, a Kente Weaver at Bonwire was honoured for his promoting and contributing to the Kente Industry in Ghana in the 2008 Awards.

Mills/ Mahama Regime
With the exit of Kufuor, it was obvious President Mills wasn’t going to tow the lines of his predecessor, and of course, having criticised the approach as opposition leader then. And it appears his successor President Mahama had the same vision.

Aside the National Honours, it was gratifying that the National Youth Achievers’ Awards was instituted under the patronage of President Mahama in 2012.

The Awards was set up to honour young people between 15 and 35 years, with the main objective of acknowledging and bringing “to the fore exceptional achievements of the youth in creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, patriotism and leadership in the various sectors of the socio-economic life of the country.”

In the awards, creative artistes were duly recognised. Bernard Akoi Jackson and Ignace Hego were recongnised for their contribution to visual arts: Literary Arts: Michael Kweku Kesse Somuah; Film: Shirley Frimpong Manso; Performing Arts: Jackie Appiah; Fashion: Heal the World (HTW) and Music: Sarkodie and Becca.

Brilliant concept, but it ended there!

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Actress Jackie Appiah receiving the Youth Award from President Mahama.                       Photocredit: Peacefmonline.com

Creative Artistes Ignored?
My question? Why are creative artistes seemingly being ignored in recent National Honours and Awards? From the Mills’ era till what happened last weekend, I stand for correction, but it appears I have not seen any known creative artistes penciled for any of the national honours?

Or is it that, those who are yet to be honoured are not distinguished enough? Or someone is just not searching enough? Or someone just doesn’t care.

President Mahama has demonstrated his love for the creative arts; so I therefore find it difficult why at least even two of the people who have entertained us for years are not recognised during such awards.

Ataa Mensa of GTV Showcase in Ga fame, has been in the news for his seemingly neglect after years of educating our generation on the screens. His wish is just an award, a recognition that will keep him smiling even in his grave.

I don’t want to believe such creative artistes are less distinguished than the many Ministers of State and politicians who receive higher National Honours yearly in the categories of Order of the Volta? Or the football administers who are decorated with medals on such occasions because they accompanied a team to a world cup exit?

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