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Opinions of Saturday, 6 March 2010

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

Ghana: 53 Years And Counting....Any Direction? Part 1

(Appiah Kusi Adomako, Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, London) Saturday 6th March marks 53 years since we broke free from the colonialism. It is indeed a day we cherish as a nation. Recent trends show however that even 14th February Valentine Day is becoming more popular than 6th March. Three years ago, we celebrated our golden jubilee. By now believe it is every politicians dream to be the one in office to enjoy the adulation and congratulation when Ghana reaches 60 in seven years time.

In order to know where we are going as a nation, it is important that we know where are now. I describe Ghana as a nation at menopause, not to denigrate womanhood but in a sense as being past a prime. We have had enough fun fare during our independence celebration in the past. The days of sumptuous buffet dinners at Golden Tulip or La Palm Hotel or brass band performances at the Independence Square should be over now.

I am deeply convinced that any sort of celebration should be a time for sober reflection. We need to sit down and have a sober reflection, read our history starting from the time we got independence and compare it with our Asian contemporaries.

Now is the time to look calmly at ourselves and identify the mistakes that we have made as nation. If we compare Ghana at the time of independence to today’s Ghana, I can say without apology that Ghana is a failed state. In examination is that when one fails, there is normally an opportunity to resit or rewrite the failed papers. Like what Confucius once said, it does not matter the number of times we fall but the number of times we rise when we fall. We have atrophied the resources we had after independence and now crossed the graph from positive surplus into negative deficit.

Ghana can be likened to the pathetic story of Rip Van Winkle as told in Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book. In this story, Rip Van Winkle slept for twenty years. On his way to the mountain-top for the commencement of the 20 year- slumber, Rip Van Winkle saw a picture of King George III of England on dsiplay. When he came down twenty years later the sign had a picture of George Washington, the first president of the United States. While he was peacefully snoring up in the mountain a revolution was taking place would change the course of history—and Rip knew nothing about it. He was asleep.

Whilst Ghana has been in slumber, deeply snoring in military adventurism and corruption, empty India, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and the rest of the Asian Tigers have been able to use less than two generations to propel their economies from the quicksand of aid dependency to the solid rock of economic independence. Today all over the world we talk about Asia as the centre of international commerce. It must interest us to note that we all inherited the same economic conditions after independence. The difference is that whilst we in Ghana were seriously engaged in military adventurism, pull him down syndrome in our national politics our contemporaries in Asia were busily embarking on good governance leaving us with no choice but to become consumers of their finished products like chalk, coffins and toothpicks etc. to name but a few.

After 53 years of self-governance we have depleted our national accounts and have moved from surplus to deficit. Borrowing has become the order of the day. We are happy to be rated credit worthy nation. A nation that was once prosperous could become a chartered member of HIPIC. We borrow for everything- even to repair the President’s offices.

Whilst most women dread the onset of menopause, it must be said that this is normally a stage of great wisdom and maturity at which women would have seen everything. Not Ghana. At its menopausal state, mother Ghana cannot feed its children. Almost all local industries set by Dr Nkrumah after independence have collapsed. Day by day Ghanaian companies keep on folding up because of our uncontrolled passion for imported goods.

After nearly fifty three years our national politics is dirty. We call black white and white as black. We have unconsciously adopted Machiavellian tactics- the end justifies the means in our national politics. While government seeks to build an arc of peace others keep on sounding war drums. Our educational system which was one of the best in developing world is nothing to boast of. Examination leakages and malpractices have littered our educational fibre. We have minimised practical work in our educational system and maximised theory work and some of our graduates have been described as educated illiterates. Qualified students cannot even get places in our tertiary institutions. In most cases, those admitted do not get a desired course.

Today nationalism among Ghanaians has reached its lowest ebb. Brian drain keeps on taking toll our human resource base. 8 out of 10 university graduates at one point or the other attempted to travel to U.K or the U.S. A majority of those who manage to travel never return. A report for the World Bank estimates that about 50% of our college educated graduates live abroad. Every year we keep on haemorrhaging our doctors, nurses, pharmacists and engineers to the developed world. Of those professions and graduates who chose to stay in the country, frustration is the order of the day.

After fifty three years of so called freedom, this where are. Where are we going? Are we going to the West or the east?

If Ghana is poised to take its rightful place in God’s universe, then are some certain things that we should do that will grant us all safe passage into the city of self actualization. Many years ago, a great philosopher - John Stuart Mills said “when a society requires to be rebuilt there is no use in attempting to rebuild it on the old plan”. The rebuilding of our nation cannot be carried on the wheels of military adventurism, poor attitude toward work, corruption, ethnic and tribal tensions, unhealthy political rivalry and unwarranted parliamentary boycott.

The solutions to our national problem is within our reach. No prodigious thunderbolt from heaven will blast away corruption and economic decline and increase our foreign exchange reserves and shoot per capita income to $ 9000. Again, God will not send marching armies of angels from heaven to lift us from this present stage. We the people of Ghana must commit ourselves to the desired change. The national goal of economic prosperity and Ghana becoming the gateway to West Africa will not roll on the wheels of inevitability and fountains of nice political oratory.

The clock of progress is ticking fast against Ghana. We still can make it. There is nothing wrong for one to start all over if one messes up. Ghana can make it irrespective of the unfavourable dictates from the unholy trinity of international geopolitics – the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organization. Like the Yoruba proverb that says that one may not be responsible for falling down but one is responsible for rising up. Our destiny is in our hands. Ghana, this is our time!!

(NB: This article is an extract from the writer’s upcoming book. Watch out for the details)

Appiah Kusi Adomako is an international freelance writer and the president of the Ghana Chapter of Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation. He can be contacted through: Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, E-mail: