The Department of History Education, University of Education, Winneba (UEW), has organised a symposium to mark the 2023 Ghana National History Day celebration.
The symposium, held at the Jophus Anamuah-Mensah Conference Centre, North Campus, UEW, was on the theme “Memorialising the Past: Reconciling the Nation”.
Mrs. Anitha Adu-Boahen
The Head, Department of History Education, Mrs. Anitha Adu-Boahen, said the celebration aimed to bring together the university community, the traditional council, and the Senior High Schools (SHS) on the significance of disseminating knowledge about the country's history and to bridge the knowledge gap of Ghana's history among the youth.
She averred that in the past, people taught their children about their ancestry through oral literature. "I learned that the past gave youngsters an insight into who they actually are. Modern society, however, tends to define itself in terms of its future as opposed to its past."
She emphasised that although it could be difficult for some people to reflect on the past, doing so is the only way for society to develop and create new bonds.
Neenyi Ghartey VII
The Paramount Chief of the Effutu Traditional Area, Neenyi Ghartey VII, stated that history is useful because it transcends boundaries. "Science has its limitations—mathematics, technology, and the like—but history examines everything. It aids our understanding of life's and institutions' pasts."
He stated that it was crucial that the national day be observed at all institutions because it would reinforce the importance of the past while focusing on the future. He beseeched educators to dispel myths about the study of history and encourage students to take history courses.
Rev. Prof. Philip T. Laryea
Rev. Prof. Philip T. Laryea, the keynote speaker at the occasion, asserted that national reconciliation is worthless unless it is linked to the total reconciliation of traditional authority. He stated that accurate documentation of local history is crucial to this effort because it has the potential to lessen the ethnic strife that impedes the growth of towns and communities.
He argued that the country's negative attitude towards record-keeping is slowly destroying its culture. He urged the observance of National History Day to highlight the need for remembering the past and added, "This cannot be done if we don't accept the culture of maintaining records."
He pleaded with well-meaning Ghanaians to persuade public and private institutions to spend on record-keeping. He recommended that participants develop the habit of effectively utilising archives in their research to highlight the value of the sources. He also discussed the use of monuments, the naming philosophy, the arts, and biographies to remember the past.
An aerial shot of attendees during the symposium at the Jophus Anamuah-Mensah Conference Centre
Each year, the Department of History Education, UEW, sets aside a day to commemorate National History Day (GNHD) during Ghana's independence celebrations. The National History Day event is intended to help Ghanaians remember the importance of Ghana’s history and that it is only by remembering the past that the nation can forge ahead.
The goal of the GNHD is also to inculcate a love for history learning and research by encouraging students, teachers, and history enthusiasts to participate in a history contest. It is premised on the idea that history-making is something active, relevant, and universally appealing.
Despite the name "Ghana National History Day", the project is year-round and begins with workshops to train and prepare participants for the final contest. The GNHD is an opportunity to learn about and do history by exploring, examining, and sharing one’s history. There is a real need to document most of Ghana's history, which unfortunately has not been written down. It provides a platform for people to record the history of communities, individuals, and historical events to share with the rest of the world.
Students who participated in the 2023 Ghana National History Day context won awards. Mfantsipim Boys SHS was awarded for emerging as the best group in the documentary. "The Unsung Hero" was the title of their documentary. Winneba SHS won the finest historical website. The winning act group was the New Edubiase SHS. They received a plaque, several history books, and some money.