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Feature Article of Saturday, 21 April 2012

Columnist: Abdul-Korah, Sundong

Towards Silver Democracy In Ghana

By Sundong Abdul-Korah

Angry enthusiastic hands fly high in the sky provoking enormous rapture from the victorious audience who punch their fists in the air as they celebrate their most glorious moment. With perfectly fitting traditional fabrics over enthralled bodies, the spirit of the anti-colonialist echoes across a multitude of dedicated and yearning souls for freedom and self-governance. And the message comes powerfully: “At long last, Ghana, your beloved country, is free forever ... Freedom, Free-dom at last… After all, the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.”

A spontaneous, collaboratively overwhelming cheer simmers from among the crowd, rising over their imposed undignified past. The air of liberation sweeps across, from the shores, through the forest and across the savannah. The ill-gotten prevailing white hegemony in a foreign country takes a sharp decline. An end?

Nkrumah and colleagues in their miniature smocks at the podium, the free people of Ghana in their colourful mood -- at their best-- standing in front of the liberationists, displaying a common sense of purpose, sharing a common future, hoping and conferring such a permanency on posterity. What a shared commitment to a common course! Like the first fresh air that hits the once incarcerated, this was obviously more than independence!

The African drum reverberated along with courageous ululations, dispersing the dark clouds that had covered the glittering rays of the sun and the moon for years. And when these rays shone through labour wards, matured fetuses forced their way out of wombs to see the beauty of heaven on the African soil; to celebrate the heroism of their fathers and mothers!

Sadly, this excitement that swept across other African countries, this common solidarity towards a peaceful, progressive and democratic society was gruesomely murdered in the near years that followed this triumph. Sure and sadly, our galloping days finished after we fetched gout.

The Messiahs Who Distilled Misery

Soon foreign arms, suspended on evil black arms, exploded. Cowards recoiled like snails into their shells to reappear another day. Some brave and patriotic few who stood against the undemocratic and devious sways of these false messiahs disappeared forever. Heavily supported by civilians--- mostly with exploitative tendencies—— generals and lower echelons seized power in Ghana on many occasions. However, the first destruction of democratic seeds in the fertile soils of West Africa was in neighbouring Togo in 1963. By 1975, like wild bushfires, twenty-one of the forty-one independent states were being ruled by military or civilian-cum-military groups. Clearly and until recently, most states in Africa were swimming in the sea of conquest politics. (In)famous Abacha, Taylor, Iddi Amin, Siad Barre, Omar Al Bashir, emperor Bukasa etc have indeed hewn beautiful beads, but not dazzling enough to be hanged on the spiral neck of an African Queen. While Senegal has just triumphantly emerged from peaceful albeit hectic democratic elections and is being showered with praises, Mali is grappling and submerging under guns and gunpowder all in the name of power. The directive issued by West African leaders to the military junta which seized power to quickly restore constitutional order or be sanctioned is remarkable.

Unlike William Booth and his Salvation Army whose efforts saved millions of lives, many of these native self-acclaimed messiahs plunged innocent citizens into unimaginable abyss. Due apologies to the few honest men and women who were genuinely committed to the progress of our society, but whose efforts were bitterly and unpardonably betrayed by mischievous and mediocre comrades. President Hilla Limann couldn’t have put it more aptly: “The army cannot manage anything, they can only destroy, they can’t build. Those of them who are normal know that they don’t have any magic solution to our problems.”

Indeed coup d’états and resultant dictatorship permeate nation-states, even today. The simmers across North Africa (Arab Spring) against (un)democratic and despotic governments are sterling enough. We can recall what was said in those stark days of ours: According to General Ankrah, the purpose of 24 February 1966 coup that toppled President Nkrumah was to “banish privilege, overlordism, political opportunism, wasteful pompousness, and incompetence,” and thus restore to the people of Ghana the blessing of “liberty, justice and human dignity.”Typical of Gen. Ankrah, dictators’ similar proclamations here in Ghana imprisoned democracy, freedom and justice within the opened walls of our society. We are living witnesses to the vicious and soulless murders of some innocent citizens in such horrendous times.

Having succeeded, the uniform men propelled the sailing boat toward turbulent waters. On many occasions, we learn with sadness that these captains of our big ship couldn’t control the steering because of opposition from their unruly subordinates who kept sabotaging marginal fruitful intentions and interventions. We’ve been truly shaken! Those who maintain that every misfortune is a blessing have been talking nonsense. If premature death of the innocent isn’t the greatest misfortune, it certainly can’t be a blessing either!

The Collapsing Premature Messiah

After this cheguered political pathway characterized by advances and crises, the moral strength of the great people of this nation has once again restored the much cherished democracy to herself. We salute the various players of this great achievement. Undoubtedly, Ghana’s return to democratic rule is as refreshing as independence from the colonialist; that’s why we must hold fast to it, and more firmly so than ever! Rev. Jesse Jackson couldn’t have sounded more optimistic after meeting President Rawlings in November 1998: "We live in the morning of a new day… We know what [Ghana] has been through; what cannot be done and what can be done.” I also recall President Rawlings’ intoxicated frankness when a BBC correspondent doubted his willingness to give up power: “You men of little faith! How many times do you want me to assure you?” Participatory democracy blessed with visionary, authentic presidency; unbiased and incorruptible leadership is all that is required. In firm unison, we must nurture this premature MESSIAH into adulthood. We must strive to reach the high noon of democracy tonight!

The havoc wrought by flawed elections has been seen in the terrible slaughter of ordinary citizens as well as the ugly, petrifying emergence of large swathes of refugees across the continent. Indeed manipulated polls are no different from active volcanoes which sprinkle cinders and hot lava mostly on mothers and children. Thankfully, Ghanaians have once more demonstrated a remarkably admirable sense of maturity and love for their country in the last elections, especially considering the fact that the African continent remains so fraught with flawed elections and coup d’états. We saw Kenyans, Zimbabweans and Ivoirians pitifully engaged in weird competitions for the highest tower of slaughtered babies, starved citizens and difficult-to-broke power sharing. In many other countries, mischievous manipulations and mindless maneuverings before, during and after the ethereal elections provoked thorns to sting scorpions!

Though we uniquely displayed perhaps an unthinkable wealth of democracy in December 2008, Ghanaians have reason to worry over some grave lapses, inadequacies and violence exhibited by some party loyalists and individuals who played to breathtaking levels. Some electorate and officiating officials are alleged to have also contemplated strangulating the premature messiah as electioneering hours were blessed with angelic dashes and devilish darts all in fulfillment of democracy and what it means not. Strangely (messily?), democratic law courts rolled up their sleeves and roared on a peaceful holiday to judge and possibly imprison our fragile democracy. What a rare, wonderful piece of graciousness! If ever I am arraigned before the venerated bench, let her Lordship try me on a Sabbath. I would dare shout guilty, but hop majestically into comforting, reflective silence at home.

Without any hesitation, and rightly so, no one else should be held largely responsible but President Mills and his trusted officiating officials if the current biometric voter registration exercise isn’t successful; if this December elections fail to secure the peace, tranquility and fairly fractional bonding that bind us together firmly through the years, which have been sequentially and duly thrust onto his laps. Nonetheless, other major players, particularly the hierarchy and activists of the largest opposition NPP Party, shouldn’t chant the odd pages of Psalms to seem to qualify as mere celebrating saboteurs.

Demagogy, Smearing and Slanderous Media

Undeniably active political participation backed by responsible media enhances democratic principles. But those individuals and institutions which monitored the media immediately before and during the last presidential elections can affirm that the scramble for power among and between political parties sometimes reached remarkably indecent levels: Bare insults, malicious propaganda and falsehood were ungraciously packaged and visited upon opponents. Ethnicity, religion, academic degrees and experience, among others, surged up and threatened to tear the races apart. Bastards and non- Ghanaians were figured out; bachelors and polygamists, alleged frailty and drug addiction of vying politicians were video-taped and placed everywhere for free viewing. In spite of such nauseating tendencies, the power and relevance of the media was, no doubt, conspicuous, ensuring greater transparency and offering relief to the desperate electorate. It will however be suicidal to deny that the media virtually overflew its banks and almost drowned its very relevance.

These low level obsessions and smearing are certainly not only unhealthy but indict presidential persona and aura, and therefore corrode the hopes, aspirations and trust ordinary citizens bestow on the sacred stool for improved living conditions.

It’s argued that anybody who has been elected to a political office has been successful in communicating or else he/she wouldn’t be there. Politics, after all, is governed by effective and decent communication. To be a good politician and campaigner, former senator from California, S. I. Hayakawa, says one has to be a combination of salesman and lay preacher. In her Nobel lecture, Toni Morrison, illuminatingly draws our attention to the fact that the systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, midwifery properties for menace and subjugation.

“Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux- language of mindless media; whether it is proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity-driven language of science; whether it is the malign of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek— it must be rejected, altered, and exposed. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottom-out mind. Sexist language, racist language, theistic language—all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.”

I entreat our politicians, media practitioners and media houses not only to gulp down Hayakawa or Morrison’s capsule but learn to deploy a great deal of semantics and ethics in their realms. This is equally imperative in governance and in opposition. Isn’t it a shame to engage in a debate on whether Moses was a better leader than Machiavelli? Let’s tell the children of this great nation that there are more near and living examples than Hitler and Mussolini. Scholars insist that we read and read until we purge ourselves of youthful ignorance. This must be refined lavender for youthful parrots, especially those in media and politics. Let us ensure that democratic maturity and spirituality resonate in our yard and throughout the years.

Including the Elusive Agenda

Without any controversy a lot is missing in our democratic dispensation. How can we resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and insolence and immaturity that have poisoned our politics for so long? Why should we hold democracy in one hand, yet hold firmly deviousness and viciousness in the other? How can we blend judiciously distinctiveness such as gender, literacy, ethnicity, regionalism, disability, age and other elusive agenda in mainstream politics?

Rev. Jose Belo Chipenda, General Secretary, All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) has cautioned that democracy is not merely the right to vote and seize power. “It is about a whole complex of rights and duties which citizens must exercise if a government is to be open, accountable, and participatory." He asserts that Western-style democracy places people into artificial antagonistic boxes which turns friends into enemies, and aims at arousing unnecessary competition." Professor Ben O. Nwabueze reemphasizes: “It is also concerned with certain conditions of things, conditions such as a virile civil society, a democratic society, a free society, a just society, equal treatment of all citizens by the state, an ordered, stable society, a society infused with the spirit of liberty, democracy, justice and equality." In its fullest sense democracy requires that the society, the economy, politics, the constitution of the state, the electoral system and the practice of government are truly democratized. Thus societies are just only to the extent that their major institutions conform to principles of need and equality—principles that together specify an overall allocation of advantages and disadvantages to individual members.

Saints and soothsayers also maintain that democracy is a strong seed planted in great need of freedom, fairness and prosperity. As Kumado points out, one of the critical components of the democratic ideal is the right of every person to participate in the government of his country. It’s for this reason that democratic tenets must prevail everywhere—not just at political platforms but in our homes and offices. Hence those leaders so ardently dictatorial in homes and offices have indeed failed to appreciate plurality because true democracy begins along the narrow paths that traverse and dissect our communities.

Indeed, a lot of studies on African political systems reveal well-structured democratic tenets. Chieftaincy, which is regarded as the most outstanding feature of the traditional African Political structure and the linchpin of the political wheel, is democratic in nature since a Chief or a King, the embodiment of the entire community, the custodian of its wealth, the symbol of its unity and the exercise of its power, is neither absolute nor above the law. Adolphe Cureau, a French scholar observed that in central Africa a chief’s authority is valid only in so far as it is the mouthpiece of the majority interests, without which ingredient it falls to the ground. Again Dugald Campbell, a Briton who spent almost three decades in central Africa (including Zambia) from the latter part of the 19th century to the early part of this century, was more elaborate:

“All government is by the will of the people, whether it be the choice and coronation of the king; the selection of a man to fill a new chieftainship; the framing, proclamation, and promulgation of a new law; the removal of the village from one site to another; the declaration of war or the acceptance of terms of peace; everything must be put to the poll and come out stamped with the imprimatur of the people’s will. No permanent form of Negro government can exist save that based four square on the people’ will.”

Hence ours must avoid being a caricature democracy—a gambling and dangling breed blessed with a few accidental cares and colossal curses. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union a woman remarked: “Now we can open our mouths, but we’ve nothing to put in them.” Political leaders aren’t and shouldn’t be judged by the number of degrees they have nor the impeccable English they speak nor the potato chips in their shining plates, but by their commitment to the people and by their character. The two-out-of-every-three Africans experiencing hunger is humiliating and should not endure any longer. No wonder Obama decries that for Africa to register growth the various institutions must work. We are also beautifully reminded by Henry W. Longfellow that it takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong. Moreover since tomorrow is often regarded as the busiest day of the year, let’s do all we can today.

The revolutionary writer and psychiatrist, Frantz Fanon, bitterly regrets that African politicians, like their predecessors, have come to power in the name of a narrow nationalism and representing a group—the elite, and incapable of providing the least support and productive leadership to the rest of the hardworking unlettered masses. Our perception of power as the possession of a few while the majority serves it as victims is not only nauseating but dangerous. For throughout the history of humanity, no slave has ever been willfully freed by his master except through revolt. Thus, a power that loves life in every form that it appears, a power that does not judge but leverages what it encounters, a power that perceives meaningfulness and purpose in the smallest details upon the Earth…devoid of greed, bitterness, hate and fear, is what is required. Sadly, every bit of effort is being made by vulture-like personalities to strip our beautiful tree of its maturing fruits.

Leadership must be responsive and responsible to the needs of citizens. Whenever leadership tends to polarize society rather than cement it, it ceases to be democratic governance but a malfunctioning and resentful experience that must be resisted at all times and cost. It’s for this reason that we must do more than change Presidents. We must reorient ourselves and charter a course that has the potential of crystallizing our hopes and aspirations so that we don’t remain like a drift in a sea of doubt. All governmental strategies must ambitiously attempt at fulfilling the austere demands of society. This requires inclusiveness, discipline, transparency, a tight belt and a heart like a mirror. Are Ghanaians experiencing this now? Can we boast of such accolades or achievements?

Tom Paine’s In the Rights of Man is as relevant today as it was centuries ago: “Government is nothing more than a national association; and the object of this association is the good of all, as well as individually as collectively. Every [person] wishes to pursue his occupation, and to enjoy the fruits of his labour, and the produce of his property in peace and safety, and with the least possible expense. When these things are accomplished, all the other objects for which government ought to be established are answered.”

In higher domains of authentic reasoning and sound judgment, should a government which proves virtually incapable of meeting halfway the demands of the governed be endorsed? How possible could a government be caring for her citizens when unemployment is swelling with each passing day whilst at the same time multinational companies are importing virtually everything including eggs, fish, meat, bread and salt which are produced locally? What is significant about a government which fails to realize that humanity and nature are in delicate symbiosis and that the human cannot survive in a world depopulated of its natural flora and fauna? Yet in order to obtain quick cash returns in foreign currencies, minerals and forest reserves are being leased to foreign companies which exploit devastatingly, yet with little returns to host nations.

The preface to Ngugi and African Post Colonial Narrative asserts that independence in Africa failed woefully to deliver on the promise of political, economic, and cultural emancipation, largely because the departing colonizers had retained economic control while handing over political authority of government to African politicians. “Many of the latter further undermined African modernization and development by their incompetence, corruption, political dictatorship, and compradorial collaboration with multinational companies, that today seem still bent on sapping Africa to the very bone despite increasing fatalities.” Pathetically, African governments are continually engaged in giving themselves away at many lucrative fronts perhaps to the benefit of greedy government officials. One would have thought that with such indiscriminate depletion of natural resources by multinationals, citizens would have been paying lesser taxes and lesser fees, but this is often not the case. When citizens are impoverished by taxes and fees more than by enemies, it becomes evident that that governing system is bad and that a general revolution in the principle and construction of a new government is necessary.

“Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is [sic] heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer,” Paine cautions.

It’s apparent that electoral democracy isn’t without potential pitfalls for the bourgeoisie. But functioning democracy despises manicured guilty fingers dipping into our little common basket. It is never about heaping wealth, like barbarian treasures, in one’s own yard whilst heaping misery in the yards of neighbours. At all times, democracy rejects disparate disparities and ethnocentric inclinations; it ensures equity and fairness across the board. In all its meaning, leadership is more about personal sacrifice than private gains—Service-above- Self. Martin Israel rightly indicates that ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ may be vicious, but at least it knows its level of satiety. “The human, by contrast, is obsessed with gluttony.” Isn’t it strange and shameful that even at higher planes of satisfaction we often fail to see lingering and howling poverty down the valleys of humility? Moreover according to Robert Greene, power requires self-discipline. “The prospect of wealth, particularly easy, sudden wealth, plays havoc with the emotion. The suddenly rich believe that more is always possible.” He thus enjoins all who wish to gain or maintain power to leave El Dorado for suckers and fools.

In Great Things Happen, Rev. Fr. Remigius McCoy asserts that Good News do not survive on hungry stomachs. “In fact, until people’s stomachs have been filled, their bodies clothed, their troubles listened to systematically, their tears shared, it is often useless and even disrespectful to try to fill and clothe their souls.” Saint Francis of Assisi, himself no stranger to physical hunger, advised his brothers not to presume to preach to the hungry. And Saint James was even louder on this crucial condition. He didn’t hesitate to condemn the so-called faith of those who, seeing the ill-clad and the hungry before them, would content themselves with a pious prayer on their behalf without realizing that they were meant by God to be a practical part of His answer to that prayer as well. Is there no parallel between politics and religion? Are both not working for the optimum welfare of individuals, the state and the total and complete salvation of humanity? Is there any justification for politicians to continue to organize jazz crusades especially when they have failed the electorate? Must the electorate continue to endorse Party Manifestos when they seem gainfully illusive, incongruous and lay prostrate before all realities and practicalities?

Gary Zukav, one of our finest interpreters of frontier science, is equally conversant with the human spirit: “The entirety of humankind has been inexorably shaped by the power and love of One who gave His life for others. All who revere Him…agree that He was one of the most evolved of our species. Our deeper understanding tells us that a truly evolved being is one that values others more than it values itself, and that values love more than it values the physical world and what is in it.”

Functioning democratic governments are, and must persistently seek to bring our understanding of evolution into alignment with this deeper understanding; ensuring peace, increasing access to education and health, reducing the levels of hunger, and promoting the general wellbeing of all citizens. Sure, democracy isn’t and can’t be an illusion— it is about the concrete and the real, and the welfare of individuals and recognized groups. Therefore democratization needs to ensure that the political environment is not threatening to the security and well-being of each ethnic group that makeup the nation. It means ethnic groups and their organizations are represented as legitimate groups. This can be complemented by multi-ethnic coalition building, intensive bargaining, and establishment of arrangement for proper sharing of rewards. Serious regional and local devolution of power is part of the democratizing project. But devolution without the necessary support and intended evolution of communities is intolerable.

In his address to the Bata conference, Prof Tshiyembe said: “History has thought us that no people can take on the challenge of survival and development by relying only on the history and culture of other people as the unique source of inspiration, while at the same time denying their own history, culture and creative genius. The colossal and persistent imports of foreign languages, religions and cultural products into Africa have crashed her spine and blurred her vision. The increasing inability of parents to turn their limps and tongues to sing and dance native songs has indeed resulted in the gross ineptitude of their progeny to display any traditional dexterity and identity. This is grave!

Indeed the failure of 106 pupils to write the BECE examinations in Kumasi in 2009; the simmering chieftaincy disputes some resulting in the disappearance of limbs and heads; the mystic transformation of cocaine into bread floor within the tight walls of police; the wrangling and justification or otherwise of the payment of (mis)judgment debts to individuals/companies; the meritorious celebration of Ghana @50 and accompanying flush of public funds; the non-payment of workers on government payroll last December (Christmas); the painful disappearance of vital public documents in tight vaults; the mysterious dislocation and subsequent subdued silence of a national security chief among others, are typical landmarks that attest to our triumph towards bureaucracy, impracticality, dishonesty, failure and shame.

The French outstanding agronomist, Rene Dumont, who labored tirelessly on the African continent, noted that European development speeded up considerably when a certain degree of honesty was reached among its administrators. Africans and for that matter Ghanaians must find a hard, pure core among its leaders and younger administrators, which will be strong enough to eliminate the corrupt elements; a body that will be sufficiently and wholeheartedly dedicated to the general interest of its poor citizens, and set an example for sacrifice, austerity and posterity. Aristotle has gravely cautioned that it is not possible to make money out of public funds and to receive public honour at the same time, because nobody can stand having the worst of every bargain. The end of corrupt and cruel African leaders has affirmed this preposition. Hence those who are privileged to have been bestowed such titles as His Excellency, Most Rev. Sir Knight, Hon., Nana/Naa etc must endevour to emulate Lincoln, Dr King, Gandhi, Nyerere, Madiba, Teresa – frank, modest, compassionate and such other accolades at all times.

In announcing austere measures in January 2011, President Atta-Mills declared that budgets for state protocol and official travels would be reduced drastically. “I am optimistic that the burden of sacrifice, if properly shared, will result in great opportunities and progress for the people of this country.” Have patriotic citizens, particularly those in government, not mocked this beautiful challenge?

Tracking the Roughly Soothing Path

We must strive to rise above the grinding poverty and hopelessness to which the vast majority of Ghanaians are so condemned. For Ghanaians to be assured that they have indeed placed their basket of golden eggs on a matured, decent and caring head, it behooves President Mills and his social democratic party to avoid taking any anti-popular measure(s) and in defense, point to the fact that it was “the people” who put them there. A careful or sometimes even causal scrutiny of past and present administrations reveals lapses at many fronts that need urgent rectification. As usual, government officials have grown reactive rather than proactive, like sea foam pounding against a rocky shore: many lack the vision to see the forest beyond the trees; many lack the ability to choose what is right over what seems pressing.

Those who maintain that all is well with the current government are merely talking nonsense, perhaps in clear violation to the inner impulses of the president himself. But whatever advances or crises we have attained since independence, everything can be bettered. As we have seen in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and others, when loyal citizens are deeply dissatisfied with a government, they often have no reason left but to rise against injustice, deceit, disregard and empty political mouthing. Above all, let’s remember that when the comet is descending, both the shiny glass and the dusty calabash, both the egg and the pot that cooks the egg, both the chicken and the hawk that pursues it, suffer the same fate. Indeed it is only fools who smile when the devil is recovering!

We know that the tongue is the most mobile structure of the human body yet it relies on the leg and arm to enjoy a pinch of salt. This is certainly not time for long, melodious political speeches or intractable blame-game but time to reinvigorate and concretize the hopes and aspirations of disgruntled Ghanaians. The global economy has receded dangerously, severely affecting many nations. But life must transcend beyond mere existence. Zukav beautifully reminds us that the hands that built bombs can be used to build schools. “The minds that coordinate the activities of violence can coordinate the activities of cooperation.” As other nations make frantic efforts to bring sanity and hope to their citizens, let’s also see ruling arms fully stretched to appease the numerous stomachs that await a decent meal.

Scholars such as Stephen Carter and Mann Dewey assert that democracy is a disaster if the citizens are morally obtuse. To avert this, they recommend government to organize schools and compel all citizens to attend. Otherwise, we would face a nation of moral illiterates. But we should dare ask how many Ghanaians have so far eluded illiteracy? How many literates have successfully deployed their skills to leverage the developmental initiates of their respective communities, organizations and governments? Thus the state must necessarily be a central depository, an active circulator and diffuser, of the experience resulting from many trials. Its business is to enable each experimentalist to benefit by the experiments of others, instead of tolerating no experiments but what it prescribes.

I was privileged to observe a few striking scenarios in a rural settlement barely a decade ago: First a hungry snake’s chosen path coincided with a thirsty chameleon. Without delay and perhaps relying on its length as strength, the snake confidently seized the live chameleon and began to swallow it. At her grim death, the poor chameleon’s last strength powered its hind limbs which, like steel nerves, crossed over and locked the snake’s mouth. Every movement ceased and darkness descended in their world even as the sun displayed its dazzling beauty.

Second, at an elderly friend’s house a kitten consistently fed from a dog which lay motherly as the orphan milked for hours. Just how did this relationship develop between a cat and a dog? Was it the pure magic of my friend the herbalist? Where does heaven lie in these scenarios?

Are the snake-chameleon struggles not Kenya or Mali’s experiences and the latter new South Africa? Should beautiful Africa remain but largely a sorrowful gathering of traumatized hungry children? Must it remain a wailing cemetery? Ramps may proudly segregate themselves from lamps in their peaceful pen, but never in a packed van that gleefully ambles towards the slaughter house. How many Ghanaians could differentiate between freshly sweltering Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees at our shores let alone contemplate their differentiated professions and statuses? Perhaps there were nuclear scientists, nutritionists, lawyers, media and medical practitioners among the refugees who arrived from far Darfur barefooted. That’s why they rightfully refused to eat malnourished rice and sought something befitting.

One day, perhaps soon, West African tongues darkened by English ink, would suddenly and confusingly dash along narrow paths, finally folding up in neighbouring La Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso or Togo to mumble French in exchange for weevil-infested rice and unripe bananas like hungry chimps. Only genuine cooperation yields mutual satisfaction. Fellow citizens, if we don’t hang together we shall hang separately!

Disingenuous politics, disoriented traditional headship, cancerous academia, unjust judiciary, penal policing, polluting political protocols, unbridled commercialism, misguided and mischievous advisers, striking/maiming medical practices, unrighteous religiosity and underhanded, malnourished media are severely poaching and perverting functioning democracy and economic triumph in our beautiful yard. On many occasions, we have seen politicians, chiefs, civil/public servants, professors, justices, security personnel, medical and media practitioners, businessmen and women, and even the clergy happily transforming our world into a festering wound. It is highly inconceivable that citizens of the higher echelon could easily find courage and time to sing songs of discomfort with unceasing enthusiasm, even as they remain fixated like fixtures in searing comfort. How abominable!

Is President Mills’ administration ready and willing to resurrect the many angry corpses full of lives? If we probably failed to support wholeheartedly previous governments, are we patriotic enough to apply full leverage to the initiatives of the present and subsequent governments to form silver clouds that will bring silver rain? Are we showing sufficient support so as to leap into next year with all our limps perfectly fitted? Any lackadaisical or recalcitrant attitude towards the maintenance of peace, stability and development may cause us, typical of Sierra Leone’s unmatched misery, several severed limps. This is no exaggeration for Ghanaians aren’t any special species on this continent. As a hard-edged Japanese economist admonishes, “It’s better to live in despair than in unrealistic optimism.”

Celebrated writer Langston Hughes says that in time of silver rain the earth puts forth new life again, green grasses grow, and butterflies lift their silken wings to catch a rainbow cry. Will all snakes and scorpions in our beautiful yard reserve their venom in honour of peace today, prosperity tomorrow, and for the war yesterday?

Most significantly, Aristotle trumpeted in the far distant mirror that whoever succeeds in an overcrowded profession or in a competitive examination, whoever is preferred to another in any contest for an object which both desire, reaps benefit from the loss of others, from their wasted exertion and their disappointment. Unquestionably, our late distinguished statesman and politician, Dan Lartey (peace be upon him), like other major political parties, also wasted time and resources in his bid to lead Ghana. If President Mills and his ruling NDC Party are conscious of this naked truth, what range of policies are being initiated to concretely and consistently improve education, health, agriculture, housing, ICT; what are they doing to reduce high unemployment levels and eliminate poverty? Is there anything significant to remind us that we are a "One-Big-Tent-Ghana" with room for all, and none left in the margins?

This part of mother earth that overlooks Heaven, this radiant sister of the Sun called Ghana, whose whiteness once surpassed the lilies in spring, so rich in marble, so blessed with vast natural reserves; this land whose polished brilliance streams across the blue skies, whose beauty was remarkably revealed under the charismatic leadership of Kwame Nkrumah (The African of the Millennium), now suffocating beneath dark clouds, must rise and shine once more! Sure, to challenge the white snows.

The author is an independent filmmaker and writer based in Accra. His collection of Poems ‘Decades of Decay’ is forthcoming. He has also embarked on two other projects: The production of a feature film entitled The Birds and the Bees and a documentary dubbed Ground Private Jets.

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