Former President Jerry John Rawlings has been honouredÂ with the first Marcus Garvey award for his contribution to Diaspora Relationship Development.
In a citation accompanying the award he was commended for the establishment of the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and other innovations such as Panafest and Emancipation Day.
Receiving the award, Flt Lt Rawlings said: â€œIf you donâ€™t have the spirit to defy what is wrong then you wonâ€™t be able to defend freedom and justice.â€
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The former President also called for a concerted national effort to protect the countryâ€™s trees and forests.
Speaking at the first Marcus Garvey Awards Ball and Banquet organized by the Black Star Line Credit Union at the Swiss Spirit Alisa Hotel in Accra on Saturday, the former President also took a swipe at world leaders who had been dismissive of the threat of global warming.
He called for an urgent effort to address re-afforestation, stating it used to be a part of our national culture, championed by school children, churches, and civil society.
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In a speech read on his behalf , Flt Lt Rawlings commended the government for launching the Youth in Afforestation Programme aimed at re-afforestation, forest rehabilitation, and forest protection.
He said:â€œThis vision can however not be achieved without the passionate commitment that our country had paid to such activity in the past as a collective. I personally entreat all to embrace this as a national project for our own future, survival and as our duty to the earth.â€
The former President also raised concerns over the situation in Yemen where for the past few years Saudi Arabia has been undertaking regular airstrikes which had claimed the lives of innocent men, women and children.
He said it was a shame that for years thousands have died, with children living in extreme hunger, thirst, and torture of extreme deprivation.
The former President called out the United Nations, saying:Â â€œIt is a terrible indictment that the United Nations and its allied agencies have allowed this humanitarian disaster to last for so long! The media, especially Al Jazeera had repeatedly been exposing and highlighting the bombing and killing of innocent Yemeni men, women and children but the world looked on unconcerned.
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Commending Marcus Garvey for his vision of emancipation and unity of the black race, Flt Lt Rawlings said the fact that the Banquet and Ball was held under the umbrella of economic emancipation reflected the core essence of Garveyâ€™s work.
The former President said: â€œMany of the obstacles that confront our common emancipation have unfortunately remained constant: internal competition and personality clashes; tribalism and nepotism; greed and compromise of our people â€“ especially our leaders; economic subservience and neo-colonialism as the modern version of black slavery. We have learnt from Garvey and many others after him, that visions founded on honest reflections of common experience and truth will inspire and command mass followership and support.â€