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Opinions of Saturday, 4 March 2017

Columnist: Kb2014gh@gmail.com

60 Years Of Ghana: A nation battered by her children

If Ghana were a human being, working for any organisation, March 6th would have been its official retiring age from active service. Ama Ghana, as she is fondly called, would take a look at herself at age 60 leaving out ages 1-6 because she would be too young to understand many of the things around her then. Ama Ghana would be reminiscing the life she had gone through, from school days, opportunities that were available to her, opportunities missed, the challenges that confronted her, what she did for herself, her family life and what life after retirement is going to be for her.

Before her birth, Ama Ghana’s mother was known as Gold Coast, a name we all know was given to her by those who forcefully adopted her and exploited her vast expanse of pure raw gold, the virgin spans of forest, pristine, clean flowing rivers and clean beaches. The colonialists, in their eagerness to exploit as much as possible the resources available to us, put up key infrastructure to ‘enhance’ the process of exploitation of those resources. A harbour was built to facilitate the inflows of goods and services they believed we needed while they carted away the goods and services they needed.

A reasonably long stretch of Railway lines was built, primarily to cart the cocoa, the timber, the bauxite, the manganese and the gold out of this country. But the Railways served us in our travels from one place to the other. In the exploitation of our resources, the colonialists were ‘magnanimous’ with us. They went underground to dig the gold from Obuasi, Aboso, Tarkwa, Konongo and other such places and ensured that agricultural activities went on unhindered.

Our water bodies were pure, we swam in them, fetched them for domestic activities and piped them to places of distance. They fell our timbers but put in place policies that ensured that each timber felled, was replaced by planting a new one. There was sanity in the productive sector and the sustainability of the use and management of our collective resources for those unborn.

Ama Ghana over 60 years ago, all was normal or so it seemed until after her teen years into her 20s, Ama Ghana’s fortunes started dwindling. She began breeding leadership with no vision, leadership that was populist in its outlook, selfish in character and indifferent towards the future. Yes, Ama Ghana had trained her sons and daughters to fill up vacancies the exit of the colonial staff had created both at home and abroad. Higher institutions of learning were put in place to build the needed manpower to move this country forward. Primary schools, many under trees then though, were put in place all over the country to kill illiteracy.

Secondary and Technical Schools were built to train the young people to build this nation, the nation was opened up by Ama Ghana for her children to interact and relate with one another irrespective of where anyone of them came from. Factories were built by Ama Ghana to ensure job opportunities for the children being trained as well as deliver the goods and services needed by her children and cut down on imports. Ama Ghana put in place the Akosombo dam to ensure energy supply to power the burgeoning industry, effective Air Transport systems came in the form of the Ghana Airways. The Black Star Lines was also established to lift goods to and from Ghana and break the monopoly of foreign vessels doing it all on our behalf. Ama Ghana was a rising Star indeed, she was the envy of her neighbours far and near. Prospects for her development and progress into the future could not be contradicted. She was the Mecca for liberation struggles by all oppressed people the world over. She was an inspiration and a light for the otherwise dark world.

Her health delivery services were the best in black Africa, education was next to none and many Africans came to study in Ama Ghana’s schools. Discipline and respect for elders as well as the values of our societies were held in high esteem.

But alas, before Ama Ghana could attain the age of 25 years, her fortunes started driving in the reverse direction dangerously into a ditch, this time not by any colonial master, but her own children most of whom it had expended her resources to train, educate and entrusted portions of her resources to manage. That was when the misfortunes of Ama Ghana began, the zeal of nationalism which heralded the birth of Ama Ghana gave way to greed, patriotism became empty slogans shouted on the roof tops of political sloganeering. Selfishness took over from nationalism and no one cared about Ama Ghana.

Her children began to destroy all the good things she had put in place. Factories were collapsed by the very workers engaged to make them functional. Companies which had made losses saw their workers going on strike for having not been paid annual bonuses, yes, workers went on strike for not being paid bonuses when they had made huge losses, you read right. Railway workers held the nation hostage each day they had a bad dream.

On her journey downhill, liberators, redeemers and revolutionaries made efforts, justifiably or unjustifiably to save her from falling into abyss. Many of them ended up adding more injuries unto her woes. Her businesses collapsed, unemployment stared in the faces of well trained young men and women. The economic and social infrastructure built prior to and after the birth of Ama Ghana started to deteriorate for lack of maintenance and further investments. The Railways collapsed, Ama Ghana’s Airlines and Shipping lines collapsed as well as other critical economic and social infrastructure.

The worst to happen to Ama Ghana as we celebrate her 60th birthday is the deliberate and systematic destruction of the pristine river bodies she inherited from the colonial masters. Her own children, educated and resourced enough to protect the resources Ama Ghana inherited, have presided over and in many cases, have been part of the process of destroying our pristine water bodies which are our life blood. Rivers Birim, Pra, Ankobra, Offin, Densu, Tano – name them – have been so badly polluted that they are not good enough even for animal husbandry let alone human consumption. Today, pipe borne water delivery into the homes of many urban dwellers have become the biggest challenge. Even where they are available, the cost of production is so high because of our collective nonchalant attitude towards the criminals who are polluting these vital resources for human existence.

Sadly, politicians, instead of being vociferous towards these nation wreckers, treat them with kids’ gloves for votes. Ama Ghana, due, due, due!!!

Our virgin forests have become the targets of illegal miners, and they do so as if there is no tomorrow and those who have the power of the state to stop these destructions do not care a hoot. They are either directly involved in these acts or are beneficiaries of the outcomes by those who engage in them. Foreigners have taken over, not only the illegal exploitation of our resources, but are openly destroying everything around them with glee. We are helpless and impotent to deal with them.

Apart from a few flamboyant edifices dotted in selected cities of Ama Ghana, her 60 years is filled with filth and choked drains. An hour’s rainfall sees a whole city drowned, the citizenry defiantly block the natural course of rivers and streams and expect the waters to remain calm. Sixty years of Ama Ghana has seen corruption as a way of life, plain thievery of public funds have become competitive pastimes and the rat race is pacing faster than the rat. There seems to be nothing to control this unbridled desire to make money without sweating for it.

Ghanaians who have used criminal means to steal from the public kitty, flaunt their wealth publicly and arrogantly without the system questioning their sources of income. They display wealth, Ama Ghana suffers. As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our beloved country, the only befitting birthday present we can give her is to do what is right for our country. Happy Birthday.