Several years ago, a Ghanaian friend complained that her countrymen could not create anything on their own. She gave many examples of the ways in which products from other parts of the world were copied as if to say that any ideas originating in Ghana were not worthy. My friend had a valid point – examples abound to illustrate her observation

Taken from another perspective, is that any different from other cultures in other places? Consider architecture. Many of the world’s famous buildings and communities and gardens have been described as “original” and yet incorporate ideas which have been “borrowed” from other creations. And what about fashion? How many times have we seen old styles brought back and presented as the latest fad? Music is yet another area. I often lament the loss of highlife in Ghana as the most popular form of music ever since young musicians have decided to emulate American rap and hip-hop performers.

Culture evolves as mankind adapts to changing times. We embrace these changes when they force us to re-examine our present, but we need to be ever vigilant that in making changes we do not forfeit valuable aspects of our past. The Sankofa bird which looks back over its shoulder with an egg in its mouth best symbolizes the lesson that we need to know where we are coming from if we want to make the best decisions for our future.

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