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Opinions of Friday, 12 May 2017

Columnist: Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi

It’s time to use Ghanaian languages in the ‘Big House’.

Have you listened to the so-called Twi speaking radio and TV stations lately? The majority of the hosts can hardly express themselves in Twi, without mixing it up with a little dose of ‘Twiglish’.Twiglish is when a Twi word is pronounced like an English word or Twi is mixed- up with an English word.

Lately, we all have been bombarded with broken Twi speaking programs on the airwaves, yet we expect people to speak English fluently in the Parliament House, haba!

Welcome to Ghanaian civilization. How many young Ghanaians do you know who can express themselves flawlessly in their native tongue? We must be proud of our ‘accomplishments’ and civilization.

By the way, since when did we start to measure one’s intellect or ability to think outside the box and find solutions to our emerging problems with a laser-beam vision by one’s ability to speak the queen’s language flawlessly? Are we nuts?

My inquisitive mind wants to know!

Does one really need to speak English fluently as criteria to be an MP or an effective, great politician in Ghana? For the most part, the alarming stories you hear of how people need this and that qualifications to be an MP are just that – myths - urban legends perpetuated by the political elites and our money-crazy leaderships.

Do we have to get a formal gold-plated ‘EDUCATION’ in order to contribute to Ghana’s development? I’m a little bit worried about this issue.

The above mentioned questions need answers ‘ASAP’ before things start to fall apart in Ghana and its House .I’m sure you have already heard the story: Allegedly, certain low-minded individuals (in Parliament and Akwatia) are making fun of a newly-minted MP simply because she couldn’t supposedly, express herself in English - I beg your pardon!.

Oh yes, the NDC foot-soldiers from Akwatia constituency are probably also having a “field day” over the alleged English speaking impediments of an MP that occurred during this year’s 6th March Independence celebration. However, I have some news for you!

Granted, the Honorable MP did make several grammatical errors, (and butcher the English language beyond repairs) but does it make it a crime and doesn’t she qualify to be a great MP because she has no PhD behind her name? Excuse me! Mixed up priority indeed, folks!

Ghanaians are very funny and out of joint. We have these PhDs all over the place yet we import ordinary tooth picks and tomatoes and do sleep in darkness despite an abundant sunshine – go figure! We shouldn’t forget that our current education system only trains us to look for job handouts from the government, instead of being creative and innovative.

When you go to the U.N General Assembly in New York City, every representative uses a language of his/her choice and it’s interpreted without any problem. That is not the case in Ghana’s parliament House. In Ghana, they (the political elites) have designed a system to lock out people in the political corridors so as to loot the nation with their so-called ‘academic credentials’. Therefore, farmers, nurses, carpenters, plumbers, hairdressers, seamstresses, mechanics, drivers, semi-literates, and anyone who doesn’t speak the queen’s language fluently have been pushed out of the political equation so the do-nothing politicians and policy-makers will be able to force laws and policies down our throats with no qualms.

I’m not in any way suggesting that formal education is not important in the national development equation, but I’m not in a position to subscribe to the notion that the only way to contribute to the nation’s development plan and dream is to have a 200kt gold-plated college degree and speak English fluently without flaws - talfiakwa!

The point I’m trying to make here is that we should allow people to express themselves in any Ghanaian dialect they feel fit and comfortable to use in the Parliament House, so it can be interpreted for others to understand. By so doing it will allow equal opportunity for our MPs to contribute to the House’s debates. This can be done with or without college education. Life experiences are equally important credentials as college degrees. One thing we shouldn’t forget is that not long ago this nation was practically managed by uneducated chiefs, kings, semi-literates and ‘ordinary’ individuals, who ran things smoothly. No, I’m not advocating against modernization. All I’m saying is, doesn’t Ghana need all her offspring to contribute to its development, rapid socioeconomic take-off and longevity?

We should also remember that not all of us were fortunate enough to get a gold-plated formal education from the Ghanaian premium institutions, therefore expecting equal quality educational attainment from every Ghanaian is impossible and unrealistic expectation.

For one thing, Ghana’s downfall and socio-economic degradation are to be blamed squarely on the doorsteps of our political elites, but not on the lower class that has to struggle everyday just to make the two ends-meet. Maybe our less educated population has some answers to solve some of our unemployment, under-employment and education problems and much more.

Speaking of unemployment and job creation, there is so much we can learn from the Kwahus. Undoubtedly, Kwahus’ cultural values of being thrifty, ambitious, commercially aggressive and close-knit group play a big role in their success. These are important qualities the rest of us should learn or teach in our school system around the country, instead of worrying about how well we speak the colonial master’s language.

The idea of speaking our local dialects in Parliament should be applauded for its ambitions and importance, but not faulted for its shortcomings. The perplexing details could be sorted out once we begin to address the problem and make a bold move.

In fact, the NPP members in Parliament should strap their nuts on and stand up to these ‘bullies’ who are threatening the liberty of our less educated individuals in the House, like true Ghanaians. But the scary part is they’re all part of the problem. So they’re not willing to do so; and electing to quake in their boots instead. Oh no, they will rather turn into ‘connection men’ and use their diplomatic passports to export their family members and you know whats illegally to the states and UK.

As a matter of fact, we should get rid of this ‘stinking thinking’ if we really want to build the nation with all our collective inputs and ideas.

With tons of socio-economic issues like: Unskilled labor force, bribery, embezzlement, cutting-corners, under-employment, unemployment, teenage pregnancies, poor parenting, and other self-inflicted social wounds that have engulfed the entire society, why are we so bent out of shape over one’s inability to speak English language so fluently?

Anyway, where are the GHC5.00 motorbikes and GHC350.00 trucks that have been auctioned off? Get me one!!

Undoubtedly, our modern day MPs and politicians lack earth-shaking ideas and solutions. They’re more obsessed with owning a fleet of cars than building public libraries that are stocked with good books. Or what about providing play grounds and after school activities centers for our youths where they could spend their time profitably and judiciously; instead of them hanging around in the neighborhoods, towns, and villages, doing practically nothing during school vacations?

No wonder, our youths are now consuming more booze than books to numb their pains, fears and frustrations because they see their future slowly disappearing in front of them. Coupled with unrealistic expectations, they have developed undetected varying levels of depression. In essence, they have no reasons to be optimistic about the future.

Unfortunately, the Ghanaian government after government and their institutions have stood mutely by as our teens and future leaders drink themselves to death and self-destruction. What a smart way to prepare the nation’s future and its leadership to face this century and beyond.

Do we really understand, as a nation the crucial links between the mental and economic health of our youths and the health of our nation? Nope, we don’t!

In fact, the average Ghanaian’s unrealistic and inflated expectations are not going to be negotiated anytime soon when things fall apart. However, I doubt if bringing these issues out is going to change the tenor, tone or the dynamics of our policies or priorities. But, one thing I do know is that the more we talk about these issues the more they’re going to be on national consciousness.

Yes, I know that giving our youths many productive activities to do and reasons to be optimistic and hopeful for the future will be enough incentives to redirect their frustrations, anger and pains into constructive engagements and endeavors.