Former President John Agyekum Kufuor says the adoption of Western lifestyles among the youth is fast eroding the unique identity of the country.
The 79-year-old statesman said it had become common to find some young people unable to speak any local language or identify with Ghanaian culture because of preference for foreign culture over theirs.
At the opening of a three-day AU Arts Festival at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Accra last Friday, the former President, who was also honoured with the title Agorohene for his contributions to the arts, said although he understood that culture was dynamic, it must be guided by knowledge and understanding.
“It seems we have lost our identity because when you meet some young people, you can’t tell if they are Africans or Westerners. We are lost because we don’t appreciate and don’t want to be identified with what we have as a people,” he stated.
Mr Kufuor stated, however, that he was hopeful that the legacy he intended to leave in projecting and conserving the Ghanaian identity through culture would inspire the younger generation to embrace their own.
Notwithstanding the concerns he raised, the former President said he was enthused by the talent displayed by the youth in various aspects of the arts, including music, paintings and dance.
“From what I have seen here today, I can truly say that all is not lost because some of you are still identifying with the legacy I want to leave behind. Besides, self-confidence is the key to creativity and that has been exhibited today,” he observed.
Malaika Media and OK Communications organised the arts festival in partnership with the JAK Foundation as part of fundraising activities for an endowment fund launched by the foundation earlier this year.
The foundation hopes to raise GH¢80 million and the arts festival is the contribution of hiplife artiste Okyeame Kwame, who is an ambassador of the foundation.
The festival attracted 40 young and talented artists selected from across the country who exhibited their paintings of former President Kufuor, as well as his achievements.
An auction was held for the various paintings and the first painting of the former president was bought at GH¢25,000 by an anonymous patron.
The second painting detailed Mr Kufuor’s achievements in governance, including the introduction of Metro Mass Transport and that piece was by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zylofon Media, Nana Appiah Mensah, for $20,000.
The CEO of the foundation, Professor Baffour Agyeman Duah, said the foundation would dedicate $5 million to the construction of an ultra-modern centre for leadership and governance, while $10 million would be channelled into the Endowment Fund.
The returns on the investment, he noted, would go into various projects of the foundation, including the Kufuor Scholars Programme (KSP), the Kufuor Young Entrepreneurs Network, the annual lecture series on governance and development, the Kufuor Election Observers Groups and the Kufuor Prize for Best Community Leadership.
Besides the arts festival, other activities earmarked for the year-long celebration of the 80th birthday of Mr Kufuor include a celebrity walk on Saturday, June 16, 2018, a musical concert in September, a football match in October between Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko, a gala night and thanksgiving service in December.