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Opinions of Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Columnist: Ankomah, Afua

Ghana fo pe post

I really don’t mean to be a cynic – ever – but there’s just so much to go on about that I just can’t help it. Granted, this piece (along with each and every single one I have ever written) is more introspective than anything else, in a wildly and outwardly cynical way, but it’s just my way of discussing the common challenges we face and seriously addressing them…so that in 2057 the lights being on throughout March won’t cause unnecessary strain on our primary nature dependent-source of energy.

I once saw a newspaper – one of those specialised ones that requires so much skill to put together – with very little news, and Senior Management almost outnumbering the foot soldiers. It showed clearly how low the emphasis on content was, but what most blew my mind was that the strategy was paying off – almost every other page had a full page (or at least 2 half page) advert(s); brothers were raking in the dough. And they were obviously capitalising on a pressing need – the urgent need to compete with the nation’s widest reaching daily as a medium to communicate with consumers, because advertisers are clearly running out of money for over-priced colour adverts.

And just today, a ‘friend’ called, saying he wanted to meet me with his ‘board of directors’, possibly to offer me a ‘gig’. Nothing wrong with special purpose companies, but everyone’s a Managing Director these days.

Let it be noted that I started this article on April 17th and therefore had no intention of referring AT ALL to the on-going saga of the Rector (Professor? Not?) of one of our institutes of Higher Learning et Monsieur the Legal Media Beagle, who is on a one-paper crusade to rip the poor man’s title to shreds, because...well, only one person can answer that. I will not take sides in this issue - I must, however, be quick to add that if the shoe fits, by all means take it home with you.

Which brings me to the heart of today’s mind-boggling issue. Why is it that we Ghanaians are so cross-eyed in our pursuit of titles we can’t see past our noses? Note the use of the collective plural here, because regardless of how much I want to distance myself from the Ghanaian predicament, I am slam dunk right in the middle of it. Honestly, if you gave me the choice between being paid $5,000 a month, with the title of “Janitorial Trainee” (so you now know I earn a pittance, are you proud of yourself?), and being called a Managing Director earning $2,000 a month…it would be Mademoiselle Director to you. But that in itself is not a problem, considering that the Managing Director may have more long-term room for growth than the Janitorial Trainee. However, the actual problem seems to be that in our short-sightedness, we hardly ever look at comparable situations from that particular angle.

How many times haven’t you heard, “He works with ”, or “She’s just moved to ”, and thought, “maybe I’m wasting my time with the company I’m working with. After all, he/she must be earning a fortune!” Do we stop to think about the responsibilities that he/she is incurring and whether those are actually commensurate with the salary he/she is earning, regardless of how many zeros there are behind the first digit of the New Cedi sign? I volunteer a resounding “deeeebi!”

Of course, there is the inherent cultural belief that to be respected in our oh-so peer-pressure driven society (regardless of how old you are, which is really a shame) that if you don’t have money, you must have education (which means that you have to have some money). And if you don’t have education, then you must have money. And if you don’t have either, then surely you have both, or else “Who are you?!” Or more importantly, “Who do you think you are?!”

Yes, we holler that productivity is low…that we really can’t tell whether the beginning is the chicken or the egg – are we de-motivated because we are underpaid, or underpaid because we’re not working?

Luckily, you may be one of a growing class that’s starting to tread on increasingly solid ground as far as finances are concerned, but for those (of us) still down there in the trenches, maybe the reason we “Ghana fo” “pe post” so much is that we like to console ourselves with the fact that we really are Big People…no, seriously (look, see the title??!)…we are!



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