The Rastafari Council, Ghana (RCG) writes to express its disappointment at certain remarks recently made by the Member of Parliament for Bekwai, Hon Joseph Osie Owusu in connection with the continuing impasse between the Achimota School and dreadlock Rastafari students, who have been refused admission to the school on account of their dreadlocks. The RCG believes that the remark is “irresponsible” and a total deviation by an MP regarding a national discussion to find a solution to a sensitive matter as education of Ghana’s future human resource.
In the ongoing national discussion, the RCG will not allow him to change the narrative under discussion. His presentation on cannabis is a whole discourse that the Rastafari community will challenge him to begin a separate national debate on the creation and uses of cannabis. And that with the numerous natural uses and benefits of cannabis for industrial and medicinal purposes as ordained by creation, such discourse will help Parliament in its deliberations regarding that aspect of our agro economy.
The RCG equally condemns the unguarded opinions from groups like NAGRAT as they seek to influence this matter without any empirical evidence and seeking to undermine the supreme laws of Ghana for the management and administration of Secondary schools. While the RCG is open to comments, opinions and suggestions, the RCG urges individuals to be responsible in their remarks and to resist the urge to make insulting and disparaging comments about the individuals involved and Rastafari culture, in general.
The issue involved in this case is one involving the fundamental right of freedom of religion, a right that is enshrined in the Ghana Constitution, as well as guaranteed under the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights, a document to which Ghana is a signatory. The importance of this issue demands that great care should be taken by the stakeholders to ensure that all comments issued in connection with this matter are factual and responsible, and not inflammatory. As stated above, stakeholders should refrain from making derogatory remarks against Rastafari faith and culture.
We would also like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for the encouragement received from our supporters who recognize the historical importance of this issue.
The RCG is encouraged by the fact that the parents of both students are working vigorously with the school to ensure that the students do not miss out on this academic year, even as the matter awaits final resolution.
In the meantime, the RCG eagerly awaits the new guidelines that are to be issued to the senior high schools by the Ghana Education Service (GES), and the RCG hopes that these new guidelines will definitively address the issue of religious freedom by allowing the students to attend high school wearing their dreadlocks as a sincere expression of their faith.
The RCG unequivocally presents that it will join hands with other Civil Society Organizations to finally proceed to the law court to find legal interpretations and declarations regarding such policies of discrimination that affect members of the Rastafari community.
Ahuma Bosco Ocansey,