Former President John Dramani Mahama was the guest of honour at this year’s annual celebration of the Damba Festival of the chiefs and people of the Waala Traditional Area in the Upper West Region, an event which was marked last Saturday with a focus on education.
An educational endowment fund was launched to assist needy bright students from the basic to tertiary levels to access unimpeded education. The fund, known as the Waa-Naa Olam Ghana Educational Endowment Fund, will be disbursed to the beneficiaries during next academic year.
The festival, which was witnessed by people from all walks of life, including politicians, tourists, students, opinion leaders and traditional authorities, amidst traditional northern drumming and dancing was on the theme, “Environmental Conservation in the Waala Traditional Area – A Must”.
Olam Ghana contributed an initial amount of GH¢50,000 whilst former President Mahama donated GH¢10,000. The Upper West Regional Minister, Dr Hafiz Ben Salih, also supported the fund with GH¢5,000 as seed money.
Addressing the grand durbar to climax the occasion, Mr Mahama said the youth should see their education as the means to achieving their life-long desires. He thus called on parents to endeavour to invest in the education of their children by sending them to school.
He said during his tenure of office, the provision of infrastructural facilities and social amenities was his main concern.
The former President mentioned some of the projects undertaken during that period as the Jambusi Water Supply System, the Wa Airport, which he said he was happy was now in use, and a Regional Referral Hospital at Wa.
Dr Salih expressed his satisfaction at the prevailing peace in the region which had enabled the festival to be celebrated.
He, therefore, thanked the traditional authority and opinion leaders for keeping the peace and urged them to assist to stop the massive destruction of the environment which was being done through over-grazing and felling of trees for commercial charcoal burning.
He urged them to adopt re-afforestation to help stop the Sahara from reaching the region.
The minister also spoke against open defecation which was still prevalent in some parts of the region. He said the government in its determination to improve the livelihood of the people had rolled out policies such as the free Senior High School, Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs and Planting for Export and Rural Development, among others.
In his welcome address, the Waa Naa, Fuseini Seidu Pelpuo IV, conceded that the impact of climatic change as a result of environmental degradation continued to be a challenge and called for a concerted effort to improve the situation through public education in the area.
He commended the former President, Mr Mahama, for honouring their invitation to celebrate the festival with them.