In a few hours, the canons will boom, the bells will toll, 1961 will come to an end, and we shall usher in the New Year. I have therefore come to the studio tonight to share with you, a few thoughts on our national life. In my Christmas message last week, l dwelt mainly on the many things which the Party and the Government are doing to bring about material progress and to provide a better life for us all. Silently, but steadily, an industrial, scientific, and agricultural revolution is taking place in Ghana which, in a few years time, should make it a developed and industrialized country. At the same time, though less obvious, a social revolution is taking place which is even more challenging.
I sometimes wonder, however, whether the masses of our people appreciate sufficiently, the full significance of these changes. We are tempted, l think, to take it all for granted, and fail to realise that each one of us must make a positive and constructive contribution to the changes now taking place around us.
I am speaking now to all of you, both Ghanaians and our friends from overseas who are working here with us. All of us, whether we be carpenters, doctors, shop-keepers, market women, lawyers, messengers, clerks, civil servants, farmers, ministers of state or labourers, owe a duty to the state, and no sacrifice should be too great to carry it out. I am sure that each one of us in our own way can contribute to the happiness and welfare of the community. The positions which we hold are in themselves only a means to an end, namely, service of the community and the state. We must not use our positions, therefore, for the gratification of ourselves at the expense of our fellow citizens. We should say to ourselves honestly and convincingly, and repeat it time and again: "I hold this position irrespective of any remuneration or glory that I may receive on account of it; I will use it only to make Ghana great, prosperous and universally respected."
And so, I particularly want to speak to you tonight about our responsibility to our fellow men and to the state. I want to do this because, unless we are very careful, we are in danger of losing the sense of brotherhood, team spirit and fellowship which has been the essential feature of our society, and which is the I oasis of African humanism. I am speaking to you now not so much as the President of Ghana, your President, but rather as fellow Ghanaian who is it concerned not only about the material development of his country and its people, but also about our spiritual, moral and cultural well-being.
I have referred to the sense of brotherhood and fellowship which is the basis of African humanism. This humanism is revealed daily in every African family, village and community. Whoever you are, and wherever you are this evening, you understand perfectly well what I am saying. When children are born, when, people are named, when people are indisposed and when people die, we all show our concern and obligation. We give the present to the child’s parents or to the married couple, or to the sick or to the family of the dead. This we have always done: we share our joys and sorrows alike.
Again, we have always lived together and helped one another and the community generally by communal labour. As we built our houses, as we cleared the roads and paths, as we dug wells for water or put out a fire, or, with the drum, searched for a missing brother, relative or friend, or marshalled our men for action, we were discharging our obligations heartily and joyfully to the community and the state.
This spontaneous fellow-feeling, this sense of obligation and the belief that we are our brother’s keeper, has held us together and preserved our solidarity and integrity. It constitutes the material, moral, spiritual and cultural bedrock of our communal life.
These are some of the things to which, l think, we should give serious thought as we enter the New Year. We must bring ourselves to order, for our way of life in Ghana has stood the test of time and is appreciated everywhere.
In recent times, we seem to be departing very seriously, from these simple but precious virtues which have held our society together and strengthened it. New developments in Ghana have brought in their wake, vast opportunities for the advancement of the individual, and many of you today are in positions of great responsibility and authority undreamt of a few years ago. You must remember, therefore that you have equally great obligations to society and to your state.
Unfortunately, there are too many instances where people hold their positions too lightly, with arrogance, egotism, and without humility, have betrayed the trust reposed in them and indulged in vanity and self-gratification. If we do not avoid these pitfalls here and now, we shall be heading towards spiritual, moral and cultural confusion and bankruptcy which could defeat the purpose of our endeavours.
Now, fellow Ghanaians, the building of a modern state and the development of the country, in effect, the fight against insecurity, disease, poverty, hunger, unemployment, illiteracy and ignorance. The fight for good clothing and shelter are, as you know, our present preoccupations.
Countrymen: Industries are springing up and transforming simple communities into urban societies. ln the wake of this necessary transformation, are many dangers and pitfalls which threaten our values, complicate our obligations and responsibilities, confuse our thinking and place many temptations in our way. I know that there are many of you who still keep these simple virtues, who toil away quietly and tirelessly for the good of the state and of your fellow citizens. I hope that your example will be a light to others.
We have a record in Ghana of hospitality, racial tolerance and friendliness of spirit, which does not fail to evoke the admiration of foreign visitors. This is a valuable national asset which we must strive to maintain it. We have in our midst, many devoted loyal workers from other countries who have identified themselves with our cause. These men and women have left homes and friends to come to work among us. There are many others whom we have invited here to assist us to develop our country. The help they are able to give us is the best that can be obtained anywhere in the world, for they are specialists in their own fields. But whether they have come here of their own accord or at our invitation, they have remained here because of the happy atmosphere which they find here. Many of them genuinely and sincerely desire the progress of Ghana. Those who have such a spirit deserve our cooperation and support in all they do for the good of the nation, and we should do nothing to discourage them.
As l had occasion to say recently, Ghana and Africa need, “a new type of man: a dedicated, modest, honest and devoted man. A man who submerges himself in service to his nation and mankind. A man who abhors greed and detests vanity. A new type of man whose meekness is his strength and whose integrity is his greatness."
You can transform yourself into this type of man now. Why don’t you resolve to do so as you enter the New Year?
I have often marvelled at the way ants store their food and l have been astonished at their sense of discipline and devotion as they go about their duties in building their anthills. What an example to us, too, is the sense of belonging to the community which the honey bees display in manufacturing and storing their honey. What discipline! What patience! What devotion!
Unhappily, some of us these days want big jobs and fat salaries when we have no intention to do any serious work. If we don’t get what we want, we lose interest and say: "Well if l can’t be this or that, why should l bother? Country broke or country no broke, we dey." But why should the country become "broke" if you are there to help it?
I must confess to you, however, that as l speak to you now, l am overwhelmed with a keen sense of pride and gratitude » pride in the quality of our human make-up which causes `us to radiate so much warmth - warmth of sincere and genuine affection for our friends, our guests and the strangers within our gates.
Let us treasure this human quality which makes our Ghanaian hospitality proverbial. But the pride and gratitude which l feel at the moment, stems from a different source. l am grateful to all of you, not only for your devotion and loyalty to me personally and to my office, to the Party and the Government, but also for the fact that you understand so well the great cause for which l personally stand, that is to say, the rediscovery of African self-respect and dignity, and the unity and solidarity of Africa.
Let us go into the New Year with hope and confidence, with a will to work and a determination to serve one another in our country.
I wish everyone of you a happy and prosperous New Year.