As part of the ongoing activities to mark the 80th birthday of the former president, H.E. John Agyekum Kufuor, 2nd president of the th Republic of Ghana, an arts festival was held in his honour. The AU Arts Festival 2018, which was held at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Accra, on 1st June, 2018 is a three day event, that seeks to highlight the African experience with focus on leadership.
Friday’s event was themed Leadership: Africa through Arts; Celebrating H. E. John Agyekum Kufuor, 2nd President of the 4th Republic of Ghana. In detailing the purpose of the gathering, the Chairman of the planning committee for the AU Arts Festival, Mr Kojo Ampah Sahara expressed his excitement at having to celebrate the former president at such an August occasion.
Mr. Sahara made mention of the exemplary leadership President Kufuor exhibited, during his tenure of office. He highlighted some monumental achievements such as “the Capitation Grant, Metro Mass Transit, the National Health Insurance Scheme, the successful redenomination of the cedi, oil discovery, and the dramatic improvement of the living standards of Ghanaians.”
Having outlined the enormous landmark achievement of the former president, he further stated that “as a generation, we revere him for giving Ghana it’s second independence.” Commenting further, he thanked Mr. Kufuor for giving our generation the opportunity to live, and grow in freedom, without free of intimidation.
Mr Sahara also used the opportunity to appeal to patrons of the event, and the public, to support the John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation in raising 80 million, which would be used for the construction of the Kufuor Centre for Leadership and Governance, as well as the various programmes under the Foundation. He finally made a humble appeal to government to immortalise the memory of President Kufuor, by setting a national day aside in honour of his selfless sacrifice as a leader.
Chairing this special occasion was the Minister for Tourism, Madam Catherine Afeku. In her address, she also reiterated the legacy of President Kufuor, and the policies he championed as a leader. In talking about the Foundation, Madam Afeku stressed on the fact that the ultra modern facility being built, was not just for leadership and governance purposes, but the arts, which “His Excellency cherishes” will be featured prominently at the Centre.
After her speech, the Minister paved way for the President to be crowned the “Agoro Hene,” thus making him the official King of the Creative Arts. To this she said, “the President was an Ambassador for Wisdom, which the creative industry will drink from.”
The wife of the Vice President of Ghana, H. E. Hajia Samira Bawumia, an ardent lover of the arts and creative industry, also graced the occasion. In a solidarity message, Mrs Bawumia exhibited her knowledge in arts by drawing comparisons between an artist, and a leader. Citing that “a leader like an artist, inspire, bring people together, and change the narratives.” She further stated that “a leader like an artist must be able to draw from his own personality.”
Continuing, Mrs Bawumia expressed her deep admiration for the former president, during and after his tenure of office. She also recapitulated the much documented achievements of the statesman, and praised the dignified manner, in which he had carried himself since leaving office. Speaking on the Foundation, Mrs Bawumia applauded the cause, and agreed that this was the kind of change Africa needed.
Former president Kufuor, in addressing the gathering expressed his utmost joy at having people celebrate his life. He was even more enthused that he was been defined as a Ghanaian, and by extension, an African, who appreciated his culture. Despite his enthusiasm, he also bemoaned the youth of today, citing that it was difficult for them to define themselves culturally – neither Africans, because they could not relate to the African culture, nor Europeans because they could not relate to that culture either.
That notwithstanding, the President praised the patrons for showing which side of the cultural spectrum they belonged, stating that “this shows a lot of self confidence, which breeds creativity.” Commenting on the Foundation, he talked about some scholars being taken to Asia to learn about the feats the Asian youths, and the lessons Ghana could draw from it. In his closing remarks, the president thanked patrons for supporting the occasion, and appealed to their generosity in assisting the Foundation achieve its aim.
The event was crowned with an auction, which saw the sale of one of president Kufuor’s portraits, going for GHC 25,000. Nana Appiah Mensah, CEO of Zylofon Conglomerate, supported the event with 5 gold bars, worth $20,000 each. Out of which two were sold, bringing in a revenue of $40,000 to the Foundation.
The AU Arts Festival saw patrons from the various industries, government, and non-governmental sectors, as well as the showbiz world. Celebrities like Okyeame Kwame, Prince David Osei, Ekow Smith Asante, Yvonne Nelson, Akumah Mama Zimbi and many others were there to show their immense support for the cause.
In spirit of the occasion, guests were serenaded with performances from Dansoman choral group, the Royal Philharmonic Choir, traditional dance ensemble, Nteasei, and indigenous highlife-palm wine music group, Nkwanpa.
Okyeame Kwame, one of the organisers of the event performed with Gabone artiste, Ogu. Rhymesonny also treated guests to a powerful poetry, while Abokye ended the event with several renditions of highlife songs, amidst the arts exhibitions and cocktail.