A former Minister of State of the Republic of Ghana and Founder of the African University College of Communications (AUCC), Kojo Yankah has said the limitations posed by cultural beliefs and systems must not become a barrier to creativity. He saidlack of reading amongst the youth accounts for their inability to create. According to the former legislator, most of the youth today have lost touch with their roots and as a result are unable to free themselves from cultural limitations.
Mr. Yankah was speaking on the theme “Of freedom and Creativity” at the maiden edition of theFreedom Forumlast Friday, March 16, 2018. The forum wasorganized by the Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing at the African University College of Communications, Adabraka – Accra. He said “though freedom is non-negotiable in any developing country, you must note that freedom has obstacles, laws, limitation of knowledge and inexperience”. He cautioned that it is not enough to have just a dream but one needs to go the extra mile to read more, conform to standards and assiduously work towards it.
According to the former Chairman of The Pan African Historical Theatre Project (PANAFEST), most problems in Ghana and by extension Africa, are as a result of the people’s inability to break away from years of mental slavery. Mr. Yankah indicated that when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah led the people of the then Gold Coast to attain independence in 1957, it was not only for political independence but also for economic transformation. He emphasized that the origin of humankind and civilization began in Africa but wondered why most Africans fail to write their own stories. “We have limited records of the achievements of Africans. It is part of the reasons our history has been distorted to suit white supremacy,” he added.
Mr. Yankah said “just as American and Jamaican artistes sing about their traditions and customs, Ghanaians and Africans in the creative industry must do more to preserve andproject our cultural heritage globally. Our civilization as Africans must not lead us to copying blindly from other continents”. He described the Ghanaian Writer, Educationist, Novelist, and Poet, Ama Ata Aidooas a “Liberated African woman”. According to him, she has over the years promoted the soul of African traditions through her literary works.He urged the youth to use the culture to communicate and exhibit freedom.
The former Editor of Ghana’s widest circulation newspaper, Daily Graphic observed that the word Mentor and Role- model have been wrongly used for a long time. He said though people use these words synonymously, it is important to note that there is a difference between the two. “Mentors are often expected to show their mentee the proper channels to take on a career.Mentors are people who we have personal relationship with because they can help us grow and reach our goals in life whiles role modelsare persons you look up to and try to emulate” he said. He charged participants to read more about African literary works in order to be enlightened because people normally define freedom from their experiences and environment.
Other speakers for the forum were self-acclaimed originator of rap music Jedu-BlayAmbolley and the first runner-up in the first edition of 'Stars of the Future' competition in 2006, William RamzyAmui, popularly known in the showbiz industry as Ramzy.
Established in March 2017, the Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing (AAACCW) offers courses in Creative Writing – covering topics such as script-editing, short story writing and speech writing. It houses the literary works of Ama Ata Aidoo and other African writers, develops a world class library for aspiring writers, organise conferences and lectures and nurture excellence in non-academic publishing.
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