Ghana’s Republic Day celebrates the day Ghana adopted a republican government (not to be confused with Independence Day, the nation’s expulsion of the British and transition to autonomous rule). Independence Day is a bigger deal, as it is in the US, but the average junior secondary student can’t explain today’s significance. So we’ll leave it at that.
Those same JSS students and I began the morning with a comparison of the US pledge of allegiance to the Akwa Club’s pledge (to evangelize everyone you meet). Then I sang the American national anthem – poorly, and not without error – which was met with awestruck silence for a moment after I’d finished. In contrast, the Ghanaian anthem is short, simple, and (most importantly) singable.
I don’t consider myself a patriotic type.
The opportunities I’ve had in life have certainly come from my birthright on US soil, but from those same opportunities I’ve learned not to place America on a pedestal – a viewpoint my friends and neighbors here do not share.
Even my year in Washington, DC, where I learned how to swoon at the mention of some of my Congressional champions and their staff, did not inspire me to drape myself in an American flag. Ever. The Independence Day parades were the best I’ve ever seen and the fireworks displays outstanding. Neither compels me to die for my country or weep at the first bars of ‘God Bless America.’ No, patriotism does not become me.
But to celebrate the birth of a republic, one that has done decently well for itself since 1960, I think an admirable goal. Ghana deserves to celebrate this day and the progress it has made, however stumbling or stifled. Many Ghanaians may continue to request my charity in transporting them to the US, but a bit of national pride will do them no harm.