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Feature Article of Thursday, 28 February 2013

Columnist: Eyiah, Joe Kingsley

“Black History Month is Meaningless Unless…………”

The celebration of the Black History Month should not bring us together for only ‘talk-talk’ and dancing as well as feasting but move us forward towards unity, perseverance, hard work, respect for each other and the ultimate sacrifice of making our Black communities better than we have come to meet them.

By Joe Kingsley Eyiah, OCT, Brookview Middle School, Toronto-Canada

I am tempted to discuss again the meaning of the celebration of Black History Month to us as black people the world over. ‘February’ is designated as Black History Month and the month after it we celebrate the independence anniversary of our beloved motherland, Ghana. Is Ghana’s Independence becoming as meaningless as the celebration of Black History Month? This is thought provoking question which needs to be handled on its own relevance so for now let’s focus on the celebration of February as Black History Month.

This year, on Tuesday, February 12, a group of Ghanaian youth living in Toronto was organized by the Ghanaian community cultural advocate, Mr. Abankwah, to witness at the Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the unique launching of the Black History Month in the Country. Also, a Black History Month awards nite was organized at the Ghana Presbyterian Church in Toronto during the weekend to honor some Ghanaians including Sophia Aboagye of Sankofa Radio fame for their contributions to the Black community. My school in Toronto, throughout the month, has been engaging students in learning about contributions and great quotations of people of the Black race who have positively impacted their communities and the world as a whole. They are engaged in poster contest, skits, poetry, African plays and school-wide assemblies among other activities!

Black History Month is a time to reflect on the arduous but triumphant civil rights movement in the United States. It is a celebration of obstacles surmounted, tests passed, and wills strengthened in conquering injustice.’ Thus, February every year is used, especially in North American, as the month to promote awareness about the contributions of people of Black ancestry to the development of freedom and justice in this part of the world. From the time of Harriet Tubman in the ‘Abolition and the Underground Railroad’; Jackie Robinson integrating major league baseball in 1947; and Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech during the 1963 march on Washington; to present, that barrack Obama has become the first Black and the 44th President of the United States of America, the history of African Americans has struggled to find its rightful place in American History. Black History has its own tall history which is not my point of discussion in this discourse. However, I emphasize here and now that history in itself must be a GUIDE for the PRESENT and must serve as an INSPIRATION for the FUTURE. In this wise, HISTORY becomes dynamic and useful! History ought to empower people to be all they can be. And all things are possible to those who believe in history and learn from its lessons as well. Just studying about events and personalities of Black History only during the month of February each year is not enough to empower students of African heritage to succeed in the society which marginalizes the Black race. Black History ought to become permanent part of the school curriculum so that students of other races can learn to appreciate Black contributions to society. Activities planned for students during the celebration of Black History Month must not end with the month. Such promotional activities in Art, Science, Language and Mathematics must be encouraged throughout the school year. The contents of Black History must challenge students to higher feat of achievements in their studies.

Black History Is Meaningless Unless..:

Black History on its own is meaningless unless it makes lasting impact on development of society. And to borrow the words of another great son of Africa, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (first President of the re-born nation of Ghana in 1957 from the ashes of the Old Ghana Empire) of blessed memory: ‘The celebration of Black history month is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the Black race and the overall advancement of the human race!’ All people of African heritage must use Black History as a tool for perseverance to liberate themselves from ‘mental slavery’ and economic hardships that confront them wherever they find themselves in the world.

African governments must reflect on achievements of Black people around the world such as Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela as well as Bosomburu Kofi Anan and endeavor to create opportunities for their countries to achieve economic independence through political tolerance and sound policies. As Black people, we ought to be proud of our culture and advance it to enhance productivity for the development of our communities wherever we find ourselves in the world. It is my strongest opinion that, the celebration of the Black History Month should not bring us together for only ‘talk-talk’ and dancing as well as feasting but move us forward towards unity, perseverance, hard work, respect for each other and the ultimate sacrifice of making our Black communities better than we have come to meet them. We ought to develop our local talents and skills in all fields of life; and patronize our local businesses which must also be run efficiently by the local entrepreneurs.

We have to demonstrate by resolute actions and practical decisions our determination to develop the welfare of the Black race. With such determination and resilience on our part, we will make our celebration of the Black History (ie recognition of the contributions of Black people to the world) Month more meaningful and relevant to progress and prosperity. Only in this way will the celebration of Black History anytime, anywhere play its full part in the advancement of true happiness of mankind. Happy Black History Month to All!!!!!!

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