?Scrap AU Day holiday?? I beg Your Pardon!


africaMr. Franklin Cudjoe?s recently expressed reservation about the relevance of the African Union Holiday as a statutory holiday in Ghana can easily be ignored as one of those loose talks that would eventually be forgotten. But given that the fact he is the President of the policy think tank, ?IMANI Ghana,? his rationale against the AU holiday deserves a corresponding rejoinder. In fact, his views about the relevance of the AU holiday in Ghana raises some questions about the logical framework from which ?IMANI Ghana? interrogates social, economic, political and educational policies in Ghana. What?s more, the arguments Mr. Cudjoe pressed forward to buttress his reservation about the AU holiday appear illogical and contradictory. On one hand, he is dead set against the AU holiday and, on another, he is opposed to it simply because it fell ?on a weekend and rolled over to the following week? (Ghanaweb, 27 May 2013).


First, is Mr. Cudjoe saying that just because the AU Day ?is not a holiday in most African countries? (Ghanaweb, 27 May 2013), therefore Ghana should have joined those countries, thereby relinquishing Ghana?s pioneering role as the mother of African liberation and African Union? By his logic, since other independent African countries preceded Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah should not have invited the then seven heads of states of Africa and would-be liberation leaders to Ghana in April and December 1958 respectively to develop, inter-alia, a common front towards the total liberation of the African continent from the illegal colonial rule and settler regimes.


Second, if his reservation about the AU Day in Ghana is due to the fact that the holiday fell ?on a weekend and rolled over into the following? Monday, then what about some of the statutory holidays that sometimes fall on weekends? They include: Independence Day, Republic Day, Founder?s Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (which at times fall on Saturday and Sunday), New Year, Easter Monday (Picnic), End of Ramadan, Feast of the Sacrifice and May Day? The question is, do not the number of days spent on the foreign holidays, (Christmas, Good Friday, Easter Monday and Moslem sacred days) adversely impact the productivity in Ghana more than the (one day) African Union statutory holiday?


Third, I agree that ?Ghana has too many holidays? that ?may not necessarily yield anything;? but reviewing them to get rid of those that ?are not necessary so as to safeguard productivity? cannot be done at the expense of what is the only justifiable African holiday, African Union Day. Also suggesting that we could have used this [AU] day to keep up with productivity and not ?extend it to a full working day and then waste it? (Ghanaweb, 27 May 2013), should apply to the wasteful nature vis-?-vis the number of hours and days Ghanaians spend outside work places/offices before and after Christmas, New Year, Good Friday and Easter Monday (Picnic). What productivity, for instance, do the foreign sacred holidays generate in Ghana? What about the statutory Farmers holiday, during which the overwhelming majority of Ghanaian farmers (medium and small farmers, and peasants) go to their farms? What about the May Day holiday marking the martyrs of the May 1, 1886 Chicago Haymarket Massacre of workers who were striking for an 8-hour work day, which is not a holiday in the US? Besides, there are no such statutory holidays in the US as Good Friday, Easter Monday, Boxing Day, End of Ramadan, Feast of the Sacrifice and Farmers Day, so why don?t we follow the US to maximize productivity?


The AU holiday, like the Independence Day, if properly observed with pomp, including parades, essay competitions, lecture series, symposia, artistic presentations, sporting events etc. across the country can instill pride, engender confidence in the people and enhance the African personality, which in the long run, can increase productivity than these foreign holidays. The May Day, for instance, can be replaced with the Positive Action, which shook the very foundation of colonialism in the Gold Coast, and from which it never recovered. This historic action was jointly organized by the radical CPP and the more militant Gold Coast Trade Union Congress (GCTUC) led by Pobee Biney and Anthony Woods. These two militant trade unionists were arrested, charged and imprisoned along with Kwame Nkrumah, Kofi Baako, Kojo Botsio, Komla Gbedemah, Akua Ayisi Asabea, Leticia Quaye, Ardua Ankrah (Mrs. Nkrumah) and others for the ?illegal? strike in January 1950, in violation of Section 6 of the British Colonial Government Ordinance No. 12 of 1941. Such a holiday is more relevant to the Ghanaian experience than the May Day.


In effect, the arguments Mr. Franklin Cudjoe advanced against the African Union Day as a statutory holiday in Ghana are not only irrational, but they are also hypocritical. The first African Union holiday President Kufuor declared on May 25, 2002 fell on Saturday, while that of May 25, 2008 fell on Sunday. On those two occasions, Mr. Cudjoe was silent when President Kufuor?s government rolled over the holidays to the following Mondays. The African Union Day is the ONLY LEGITIMATE African Holiday born out of the African experience with European colonialism and settler regimes.


At any rate, the AU statutory holiday in Ghana is President J. A. Kufuor?s legacy. He was the President of Ghana at the time who made the declaration. This is what leaders, not copycats, do. For this reason, I wrote article, ?A Salute to President Kufuor on African Union Day? (Ghanaweb, June 12 2002):

Source: Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, Ph.D.

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