Renown Ghanaian creative artist David Dontoh has expressed concern, that the cultural identity of the Ghanaian and other Africans could become extinct if deliberate efforts are not made to stop the trend whereby Africans are fast losing essential elements of their customs, traditions, and heritage to foreign cultures.
According to the Ghanaian celebrity, it is sad that “most of the youths you find in Ghana today, they call themselves Ghanaians but in fact, in their minds they don’t think like Ghanaians, they don’t speak Ghanaian languages, they don’t eat Ghanaian foods, they don’t dress like Ghanaians, and they don’t like Ghanaian songs.”
Speaking on ‘Inside Afrika’ a Pan African Development Program on Accra-based Radio Universe, David Dontoh stressed the need for Africans to preserve the positive aspects of their cultural heritage. He observed, “civilisations have risen and fallen and gone extinct and it was all because they did not see the need to take good care of their traditions and cultures and the heritage they came to meet.”
While acknowledging that culture is dynamic and no nation is an island, the Ghanaian Celebrity noted that “if you would forgo what you have and live like others who live in another environment, you are actually only fighting to go extinct because it will come a time you will not survive because all the things God in his wisdom gave you to develop on and live by, you have thrown them away.”
In addition to factors such as colonialism and acculturation, Mr Dontoh blamed the nation’s education system for the gradual eroding cultural identity of Ghanaians.
The Host of GTV’s Agrofie noted that “language is the bedrock of your culture, of your history, of your heritage, of everything that identifies you as a people…interestingly by our educational system we don’t teach the pupil the mother tongue, you start direct even from crèche speaking the English language so by the time you are in JHS you virtually express yourself best or better in a foreign language and therefore that child from the onset, has lost perhaps 50% of what makes he or she a Ghanaian.”
On the way forward, David Dontoh suggested “we should use the medium of theatre and film to project, because other cultures vigorously projected their cultures through these media and that is what we have to do because at the end of the day, that is what promotes and markets your economy out there… You don’t market your economy based on someone else’s culture.”
Explaining the importance of the media in shaping cultural identity, David Dontoh noted that, “if a child comes home and watches television and he only sees Europe and the Mexican Telenovellas all that you’re telling the child is that those are a better way of life than ours that is how come our girls are wearing Brazilian hair and we don’t make Brazilian hair here.”
He said the current situation whereby Africans have developed a taste for foreign goods which they do not produce while at the same time they produce raw materials primarily to feed other people’s economies, is an indication that the Ghanaian economy is not being developed based on Ghanaian culture.
David Dontoh also described as dangerous, the recent revelation by TV3’s Odelia Ofori that some Cocoa Farmers in the Western Region have never seen or tasted chocolate. He said this is a reflection of the poor state of the Ghanaian economy.
“The basis of the economy is the culture, once you lose the culture, you’ve lost it,” he concluded.