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Opinions of Saturday, 29 April 2006

Columnist: Akaba, Senyo

A Gateway or a Golden Experience?

?Ghana ? A Golden Experience!? Whilst tuned in to LUV FM, an affiliate of JOY FM in Accra, the capital of Ghana, the host of ?Super Morning Show,? Komla Dumor saluted listeners with a new slogan: ?Ghana ? a golden experience.? A new mantra has been coined to brand our beloved country, Ghana.

?What happened to ?Ghana ? the gateway to West Africa?, a slogan that became popular since Bill Clinton?s visit to Ghana in 1998?? he queried. Information Minister, Dan Botwe told listeners that the earlier slogan had become overshadowed by a counter jingle in Nigeria: ?If Ghana is the gateway then, Nigeria is the destination.? The new slogan will serve as a major tool in marketing Ghana to the world. The catchphrase however, raises questions: Does Ghana already offer a golden experience? Alternatively, is it yet to develop it?

After forty-eight years of sovereignty, what golden experience does Ghana offer its citizens as well as foreigners? ?The Ghanaian hospitality is unequalled anywhere in the world,? boasted a taxi driver. Very well, I will proceed to critique certain aspects of our lives as Ghanaians. Just look out for a silvery, let alone golden experience in them. Here we go: A taxi driver pulled up in front of a Pakistani woman and her Indian boyfriend (hold up, my article will also unite the people of the world no matter their differences) who were standing at HIPC junction and inquired where they were heading. ?Marx Mart shopping center,? the woman answered. The driver looking elatedly at the couple then blurted, ?I?ll take a hundred thousand cedis.? The woman hissed and told the cabbie, ?No, thank you. We can walk.?

What hospitality can you find in a taxi driver charging his daily sales to foreigners who needed his service for a less than five-minute drive? Have you ever tried booking an appointment with a public officer in Ghana? If not, then let me caution you. There are offices that one would have to pay money to people, ranging from the security man at the gate to the secretary in the air-conditioned room, just to see one person. Call it bribe and you?ll quickly be corrected; ?It?s just a small chop! Afterall, we didn?t bring corruption to Ghana.? It has been here since the time of Adam, hasn?t it? Nonetheless, there still are offices in Ghana where business is carried with so much professionalism. My responsibility as the president of a student society brought me into contact with some pleasant personalities whose offices I?d want to visit everyday. I once visited the office of Mr. Kweku Sintim-Misa?s public relation director. For two weeks, I dreaded walking into the Ghanaian celebrity?s office to invite him to my school for a talk. However, my experience with KSM?s (Kweku Sintim-Misa) PR director was so professional and pleasant. Auntie Vanessa, KSM?s PR director, was such a friendly and agreeable person.

Disregard for road signs is a dangerous phenomenon in Ghana. Some drivers increase the speed of their cars just when the road sign ahead reads, ?Children Crossing. Slow Down!? One wonders what is wrong with such drivers. To correct such behavior guess what the inhabitants of some communities along some highways decide to do? Communal labor is organized and unofficial speed ramps ? some as high as ant hills - are constructed on highways. How can you correct indiscipline with another form of it? Drive a low-built saloon car on any of these roads and you might have to carry the bumper into the trunk back home. One wonders what the Ghana Highways Authority is doing to curb such indiscipline.

Many first-time visitors to Ghana wonder who the real ?taxman? is. Is it the police or the Internal Revenue Service? Many of Ghana?s highways are dotted with police checkpoints. Just before you begin celebrating over a robbery-free highway drive let me caution you. When driving and you notice some of the ?men in black? ask drivers to meet them behind their cars, don?t be confused into thinking that, the police charge office has now been relocated to those places. Those are only unauthorized tax collection points. Hmm! Some think that, for the government to be able to widen the tax net, the police must also be implored to help in revenue collection besides their traditional role of protecting the citizenry. I beseech the powers that be to conduct opinion polls to ascertain the count of people who share this opinion.

Nonetheless, I strongly believe that Ghana can provide a golden experience someday. Authority and the citizenry must work harder to change the status quo. We must get productive at our workplaces, be punctual at functions and denounce the attitude of trying to seek recognition through late arrival at functions. The police should be well equipped and motivated to maintain law and order as the whole country is degenerating into a chaotic den. Equal opportunities must be created for all citizens. The poor should be able to become rich through hard work. In view of the efforts that government, corporate organizations and some individuals are putting in to make Ghana a better place, I think the right slogan should read, ?Ghana ? laying the foundations for a golden experience.? This might challenge the minds of Ghanaians and even foreigners to see themselves as people who must have the tireless ambition of laying the foundations for a golden experience. With this suggestion, I?m applying Mr. Kofi Bentil?s constant marketing suggestion of not over valuing a product and under delivering in the end.

Ghana surely must be preparing to offer a golden experience. Some might see us as being far behind; notwithstanding, we cannot deny our situation. Let?s accept that we are now laying the foundations for a golden experience and work hard like foundation builders. With discipline, dedication, accountability and a mindset filled with radical development strategies, we shall soon begin a famous march towards offering a truly golden experience. Long live Ghana!

By Senyo Akaba
Student; Ashesi University

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.