FOR the second time in President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo tenure, the creative industry was conspicuously missing in the National Honours and Awards. No honour or award went to any creative person.
Last year, in commemoration of Founders’ Day, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo conferred various categories of awards on more than 19,752 citizens out of which we had/have no name(s) from the creative space.
This year, 19,599 made the list for honours with still no Creative as far as we know. According to the official communiqué, this year’s honours were grouped into three(3) categories; exemplary work during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana’s team in the maritime dispute with Cote D’Ivoire and persons with extraordinary achievements.
The National Awards
The National Honours and Awards is a ceremony where honours are conferred on Ghanaians who have made immense contributions in varied sectors such as Civil Service, Security Service, Education, Public Health, Agriculture, Commerce, Science, Judicial, Sports, Arts and Media among others.
The country’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah instituted the scheme and the maiden event was held in 1960 when Ghana became a republic. It remained a low key event until the year 2006 when President John Agyekum Kufour instituted 30 June every year as National Honours and Awards day.
The awards are in the following categories: Grand Order of the Star and Eagles of Ghana (for Presidents of the Republic of Ghana), Order of the Star-Companion, Order of the Star-Member and Order of the Volta-Companion.
The rest are Order of the Volta-Officer, Order of the Volta-Member and Grand Medal.
President Kufour’s Legacy
Yes, President Kwame Nkrumah started it but President J.A. Kufuor popularised it and made sure the creative industry was not left out of the honours.
In 2006, he offered awards in the category of Grand Medal to actors, actresses, musicians and sports personalities and they included Wilberforce Mfum, Ben Cofie, Margaret Simpson, Michael Ahey, D.K. Poison, Mohammed Polo, Ignatius Gaisah, Kwaw Ansah, Robert Owusu, David Dontoh and Kwaku Darko, popularly known as Super OD.
Others were C.K. Mann, Amakye Dede, AB Crentsil, Paapa Yankson, Jewel Ackah and Grace Omaboe.
In 2008, he awarded the following— Mr. Osei Bonsu Sarfo Katanka; Promoter of Kente Industry and a Kente Weaver at Bonwire and Nana Bosumpra; Producer of Osofo Dadzie drama group, Mr. Adu Kofi Mensah (Agya Koo); Comedian, Cultural Arts – Drama, Efo Kojo Mawugbe; Theatre Management, Mr. Kwabena Yamoah; Musician, Hi-Life Music and Mr. J.A. Adofo; Musician.
The rest are Ms. Asabea Cropper; Musician, Thomas Frimpong; Musician, Mr. Osei Kwabena Kufuor (Obuor); Musician, Mrs. Amy Newman; Musician, Ms. Ohemaa Mercy; Musician-Gospel, Ms. Christiana Love; Musician, Elder Akwesi Mireku; Musician and Nii Ashitey; Musician, (Wulome Cultural Troop), Traditional Music,
Others are Dr. Efua Dokernoo; Musician, Mr. Essirifi Bondzi; Music Producer, Mr. Fred Amugi; Actor, Mr. Mac Jordan Amartey; Actor, Mr. George B. Williams; Actor, Mrs. Grace Nortey; Actress, Mr. Tommy Annan Forson; Broadcaster, Media, Mr. Kwaku Nkrumah; Broadcaster, Ms. Doris Ansah; Broadcaster, Mrs. Beatrice Aidoo; Broadcaster and Mr. Amankwa Ampofo; Broadcaster
Not In President Mills’ Time
President Kufour’s ability to project the honours was met with some backlash, with some pooh-poohing the idea of him awarding persons from the creative industry as well as ‘bloating’ the number of laureates.
One of his many critics was the man who succeeded him, President Evans Atta- Mills, who outlawed the directive in 2010, following President Kufour’s addition of the Order of the Star and Eagles of Ghana, one he said was reserved for former Heads of State and President of Ghana.
To make matters worse, President Kufuor awarded himself Grand Order of the Star and Eagles of Ghana—a move that was chided by many. President Kufuor however said the creation of the new honour is to give due respect to the office of the President which he has come to know and appreciate.
He said the decision was in agreement with the national Constitution, which created the honours but expressed regret that some people were kicking too much fuss about it, especially about the number of people involved. He said the list of people to be honoured came after painstaking investigations about the nominees.
President Mahama Shunned the Creative Industry
In 2016, President John Dramani Mahama conferred a total of 33 national awards on 28 Ghanaians and five foreigners for their distinguished services in various disciplines of national development.
Out of the number, 15 personalities were honoured with Companion of the Order of the Volta, five(5) decorated with Officer of the Order of the Volta, and 10 with Member of the Order of the Volta. Two people were honoured with Grand Medal, while one person was honoured posthumously.
Incredulously, none of the 33 laureates came from the creative industry. The disbelief emanated from the fact that, the President, then and now, has been such a great help to persons within the industry, offering aid to aging veterans of various crafts and availing himself for projects and events connected to the arts.
However, his endorsement of not awarding any personality from the creative industry during his tenure would forever remain a blotch on his record as president of the nation who had and still has the industry at heart.
19,599 Honorees, No Creative Person?
This year, at the Accra International Conference Center(AICC), a total of 42 individuals were honoured with the highest award—Order of the Volta– Companion. The remaining 19,557 made up of frontline health workers received certificates and plaques for dedicated services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
No creative person was seen on the podium to receive any honours!
Over 19,000 individuals excelled in their craft and contributed immensely to the nation yet no person from the creative industry made the list? How is that even possible?
Last year, another list of over 19,000 personalities were awarded and no creative person made the list. Ironically, industry legends such as Gyedu Blay Ambolley and Pozo Hayes performed at the event that saw others pick awards while they went home empty handed. Funny but sad!
Does it mean since 2008, persons from the creative industry have not done anything immense in the country to garner national honours? Incredible!