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Opinions of Thursday, 7 August 2014

Columnist: Pobee-Mensah, Tony

Tell Me It Ain’t True, Punjabis Aren’t Coming

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Are we so advanced that we have to import labor, or are we just too stupid to know how to farm? Our forefathers farmed and fed themselves quite well; where along the way did we lose our ability to farm so much so that we have to bring Indians into Ghana to farm for us? Whose bright idea was it?

One the surface the argument for bringing Punjabis to Ghana is simple. They are either experienced enough to produce food for Ghanaians in Ghana and help reduce our imports or they are so experienced that we Ghanaians will learn farming from them. If the latter is true, then it indicts the school of Agriculture that we have at Legon. Besides that, someone is assuming that we will learn from the Punjabis when we failed to learn from the “Pam Pame” store keepers as Dr. Busia had hoped when he had his “Alien Compliance Order”; when we failed to learn from the merchandising skills of the Lebanese who flooded Ghana to take over our upper level stores. If the former is true then someone has not thought through the idea very well. Punjabis will not make money in Ghana and keep it in Ghana; and I don’t think they will send cedis to India.

Giving Punjabis rich farm land is giving them investment capital: investment capital that has eluded many Ghanaians for so long. Is the government saying that Ghanaians won’t farm if they are given rich farm land? I will give our cocoa exports as a reason why the Government would be wrong to make such assumption. The only thing wrong with Kwame Nkrumah’s “Worker’s Brigade” was that it was a public entity. I remember seeing the “Worker’s Brigade” workers all around town in their well ironed dark green khakis driving jeeps. I will flirt with “Worker’s Brigade” idea again more in the private sector this time around before I bring Punjab labor into Ghana. The idea is something that I have thought of in the past and will gladly discuss it further with anyone interested in exploring it. The capital we give to a Punjabi is a capital and a job that a Ghanaian won’t get.

I recently asked why we don’t have our “cattle ranchers” living on the pasture with their cattle rather than taking half the road every morning and every evening to take the cattle to and from pasture. If these people are given land, I am sure they will produce more than enough meat for the country; and with the right guidance, they may even start producing local milk for us. Is this something that we need a Punjabi to lead us to do? If we do, maybe we need a Punjabi as President.

I am a little disappointed that out of the blue, someone has decided to bring someone else in to solve our problems for us. Can we discuss ideas (if anyone has any) during presidential elections and see who may have a bright idea? Our politicians talk about “we must do this” and “we must do that” when it comes to actually doing something; they want Punjabis to come do it for us? Come on, people. This is our country. Are we so devoid of ideas?

Tony Pobee-Mensah

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