Editorial note: As Ghana marks 59 years of independence Sunday, yen.com.gh's contributor, Caleb Kutoh. He writes about Ghana's National Pledge and what it means to recite it.
"... I want to call the attention of all to our National pledge for a critical and dispassionate discussion void of any political or religious sentiment among all levels of the arms of government – Executives, Legislature and the Judiciary including the entire population. Many have written some valuable articles already on our National pledge and the call has been unanimous and consistent for us as a people to rise up to the challenge of faithfulness and loyalty that our Pledge seems to inculcate in us."
IN HONOUR OF THE KING OF KINGS
Once again another year is almost here with us for the celebration of our independence. GHANA will be 59 years old since we gained independence from our British colonial masters. What a joy it always spark out in our heart to know that we are free. The declaration of our first President Dr Kwame Nkrumah – “Ghana is free forever”, resounds with a lot of hope, aspirations and encouragement for greater things for the nation. Our independence set off the stage for the citizenry to freely exploit the various opportunities that abound all around us in our country and also to venture in new areas to bring out their creativity and ingenuity as a people.
Our independence came along with some things that identifies us as Ghanaians. The coat of arms, National Anthem, National Pledge, National Flag to mention but a few are symbols of national unity.
In this article, I want to call the attention of all to our National pledge for a critical and dispassionate discussion void of any political or religious sentiment among all levels of the arms of government – Executives, Legislature and the Judiciary including the entire population. Many have written some valuable articles already on our National pledge and the call has been unanimous and consistent for us as a people to rise up to the challenge of faithfulness and loyalty that our Pledge seems to inculcate in us. Yet I want to use this august occasion of our 59 Independence Day celebration to add my voice to call for a national consensus if we as a people have to continue reciting the National Pledge.
Even though my article may sound religious and within the spiritual context, yet we all agree that religion plays a major role in nation building. As much as the Politician is the one in the helm of affairs regarding policies and the decision-making process affecting the country, yet religion cannot be relegated to the background. In a country of ours where politics dominates every fabric of our being, spiritual and religious matters can easily be overlooked. The history of the world gives valuable credence to religion as a strong pillar for nation building. A lot of testimonies abound of countries whose socio-economic development was greatly pivoted by a strong religious ground. A typical example includes Israel, USA, Great Britain and the likes. It is no hidden secret that religious teaching greatly affects our behavior and decision as people. For as much as everyone belongs to a particular religion indicate a strong influence of religion on the lives of the people in the country. Hence the need to also investigate issues that affect our lives not only with a purely academical view but also we must consider them in the light of available spiritual knowledge for a balance. I wish my writing should not be treated as a writing of a religious extremist whose belief forbids the recitation of a pledge. I will therefore proceed to set forth my submission.
What is a pledge? A pledge I say is an agreement between persons where one party solemnly declares his willingness of performing a particular plan of action to another party. A pledge can be taken in many situations. I believe strongly the main reason for a pledge is to make infallible the words of the parties involved in the agreement. Hence people from all ages and race have taken to the practice of taking pledges as a guarantee in their relationship with other persons.
Similarly, the idea is involved in country reciting a National Pledge; normally called an Oath of Allegiance to the flag of the particular nation in question. Many countries in the world have and recite a National Pledge. The recitation of the Pledge is usually done during State functions and events, swearing in of public office holders, special anniversary days of the country and also at parades by school pupils in both public and private institutions. The positive effect of this has been tremendous and the evidence abounds for all to see in certain places and under certain times.
Some have attempted to put forth the argument of how harmless the Pledge (Oath of Allegiance) is and that people should feel free to recite the pledge but I beg to differ in that account. I agree that the words of some the National Pledges do not contain anything connected with God and therefore may not necessarily fall into the context of my writing yet the National Pledge of Ghana has everything to do with God hence our need to be cautious and mindful of the words we recite.
Most people in the Ghanaian society, except for those whose religious belief forbade recitation of Pledges (reasons I do not know of) have more than once recited the National Pledge. One writer humorously referred to the National Pledge in an article on Ghanaweb as “breakfast” which school pupils are fed with every morning. The practice of reciting the pledge is a dominate act at all lower levels of education in Ghana whether in the public or private schools. This therefore makes it binding on every Tom, Dick and Harry to be committed to the words we recite.
Below are the words of our National pledge:
I promise on my honour
To be faithful and loyal to Ghana my motherland
I pledge myself to the service of Ghana
With all my strength and with all my heart
I promise to hold in high esteem
Our heritage won for us
Through the blood and toil of our fathers
And I pledge myself in all things
To uphold and defend the good name of Ghana.
So help me God.
Two critical issues stand out in our National Pledge; the mention of the blood of our forefathers and the name of God.
Throughout scriptures, the revelation of God’s dealing with men has been by his Mercies and by his government. For most part of the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, God’s dealing were by his government with few occasions of mercies. In God’s dealing of mercies, we see his love, kindness, favour and grace towards his benefactors whereas in his government, none was held excusable but judgement was executed upon his people. God’s government borders on his person, eternal plan, will and purpose. Issues that border on his government are always unforgiven no matter who the person involved is.
Moses, the great leader of the nation of Israel was one who found grace before the Almighty and had exclusive privilege of seeing the Highest. The scriptures testify of him as one who knew the ways of God whiles all Israel only saw his work – “10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, Deut 34:10 (KJV). Yet Moses was denied on three occasions when he pleaded to be given the opportunity to go into the promise land of Canaan. He had broken God’s government and thus God had to act to execute his judgement.
All issues of blood are a part of God’s government. Man’s life is a breath given him from God. Essentially man’s life is God’s. “…the life is in the blood” say the Bible (Lev17:11) and therefore issues of blood which contains man’s life borders on God’s person. Blood is therefore not permitted in all part of the scriptures to be wasted. God always fully requires the blood of every man – “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Gen 9:5 (KJV)”. From Cain, who killed his brother and to all other murders, God severely deals out divine judgement against such. Cain testified of the severity of his punishment before God. Blood should therefore not be wasted. The blood of our forefathers was shed in a fight for the betterment of the people of the land. Thus anything we do as a people to bring an indictment on the blood by causing the lives of people rather to be impoverished would bring the full judgement of God upon us.
As a people can we say that certain undertakings and actions have led to the lives of the poor ordinary masses to suffer the more? Is the blood of our forefather been wasted through our attitude as a people? In all sectors of our economy, people wrongfully abuse their offices, neglect their responsibilities and act selfishly to the detriment of the State. Can we honestly say that the blood and toil of our forefathers have well benefitted us? God’s eyes goes through the earth to watch over his government in fulfilling it. Can all the mysterious fire outbreaks, long periods of load shedding, floods killing many, accidents and the like be a divine punishment for our overlooking and negligence of the blood of our forefathers?
Again, our pledge mention the name of GOD. In mention the name of God, we invoke God’s integrity to bear. The third of commandment states that “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Ex 20:7 (KJV)”. This is not just calling his name as some mistakenly interpret it to mean. To take his name is to invoke his integrity and his power to act accordingly in a matter of interest. Bible state categorically that God is not a Liar- “… which God, that cannot lie…Titus 1:2 (KJV)” therefore the highest form of faithfulness and truthfulness is in invoking the name of God. Hence in all our courts where all facts and truths are expected people are required to swear in the name of their object of worship. The integrity of God is a divine attribute – that is what makes him God. To misuse his name is therefore also against his government. You are trying to in effect to strip him off what makes him God when you invoke his integrity and to fail in the said thing for which his name is used. If our Pledge we recite conscious or unconscious invokes his integrity through the mention of his name and on all account we fail in redeeming to our pledges then there remains for us a fearful judgement from the Most High - for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.