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Opinions of Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Columnist: Arthur, Patrick Kobina

Ghana is the most difficult place to be a young person


Ghana’s culture falsely equates old age to maturity and this is insisted
upon at every forum and situation. If you are younger and dared to be
confident in your vision and abilities, you are quickly and recklessly
regarded as disrespectful and insolent. If the old folks believe that they
have all the wisdom in the world and prefer to be in complete control of
affairs, is it then not accurate for me to state that they are fully in
charge of the poverty generation and disease embattled society that exist
in Ghana.The old bury their achievements and watch the young and new
struggle to begin from scratch and they sit with their old wisdom wondering
why poverty exists. Having their hands on all the wealth of this poor
country but unwilling to spend on education, research and development.
Suffocating the thoughts of the young and turning around to point that
finger into their face in anguish, accusing the young of lacking knowledge.
I was peeved into writing this piece by what a government official said
recently in Ghana.

*Children of Children:*

Many here are born to people who barely understood life and living before
welcoming a newborn into the world. People grow old by any means and anyhow
and now, the fact that they lived longer than others somehow accords them
the right to most times humiliate the young at every turn. If you lived
successfully, then you must know that the greatest treasure of this life is
to be young and young at heart. They will not look at the youth with
disdain and pity, youthfulness is a great treasure and I will not be in a
hurry to be old and actually will refuse to be old.

I love being young and I will always encourage the young people to cherish
their youth, dream and aspire as though the whole world depended on their
dreams. The life of the world is for us to create, to contribute in
synthesizing the needed structures driven by love and empathy.

*Moral Dyslexia:*

Those who insist youthfulness is not profitable, that those who have not
seen their number of years on this earth are far inferior that themselves,
please seek redemption because you are suffering from a moral dyslexia.
Unable to read through the logical scripts life has given us, life’s
greatest gift is the young and the new, that youthfulness is the greatest
treasure to the world. The young, the youthful and the young at heart, life
is on your side, do not allow those who believe their best is in the past
to rob you of your joy. The best is always yet to come, never embrace the
delusional precepts of those who have no hope left and can only draw from
the wells of antiquity. I shudder to think of a country and by extension a
continent that cherishes the dead and devotes so much time and expense at
according the dead a dignified farewell. Cloth the dead in sparkling shroud
and leave millions of children naked, hungry and attending school under
death traps called classrooms. Wake up people, the young is your greatest

*The root cause of endemic poverty is low maturity levels:*

The greatest treasure any parent can bequeath to their young is a strong
sense of maturity, a strong desire to dream and to envision life in the
best of its glory. There is no need to wait and watch the child pick up the
life of their own. Go on and tell them to dream and aspire the moment you
can assure yourself that the child can hear and understand you. Once they
have imbibed the holistic sense of maturity, you can relax and believe that
they will bring out their precious gifts and talents.

In Ghana, even one’s own family will never value them until they are the
only old persons around and then they take their turn to repress the
younger people. Somehow, people who bask in their old age are under the
illusion that only the old is the best, that you are never good enough
until you are the only old person around. Immature due to the repression of
the old folks, poverty is inevitable, without the desire and the skill to
create or acquire the essentials of life. Old and finally absolutely in
charge but lacking creative youthful days, there is nothing you can do but
corrupt the system further and take all the goodies. And we still wonder
why Africa’s future has been taken hostage by corrupt office holders (no
leaders here)?

*To live longer is to live young for long:*

Youthfulness is so despised sometimes in Ghana; to be young is to be
unheard, never speaking, grievously dependent and forbidden from dreaming
dreams and seeing visions. This has enforced in the young people a relaxed
attitude towards life and responsibility, not to think of independence of
attitude and will. Look at the younger members of the Atta Mills
administration, all they do is to hop from one radio station to the other
yelling insults and insinuations at the top of their voices. Maybe it is
the desire of the older people to be fully in charge thus pushing the young
ministers out just to talking themselves into public relevance.

*Infantilization of young people in Ghana:*

In a country where all that is good and fine in life is reserved for the
old, it will be fair if their claim to such a thrown will have some basic
requirements such as the level of bravery and heroic efforts made. Many
irresponsible fathers abandon their children to the elements of the weather
only to stage a public claim to the riches of these same people. The young
is credited with the lowest level of wisdom and responsibility, made to sit
and wait, pushed off into boring and irrelevant tasks whilst the
totalitarian old folks try to do what they have no idea about. Imagine a
retired teacher in charge of the ministry of education, how do you expect
such a person to revolutionize the education system? The young, creative,
fresh and absolutely frustrated by the existing should have an unparalleled
power to create and revolutionize a system and not the old and retired?
Look at the heroic effort of Mr. Patrick Awuah, a young and visionary man
willing to impact this country and continent through the Ashesi University

A government official stands up and declares, “*Youth of today are not
serious about life- Sena Dansua”.* Not true!! Rather too many old people
have given up on life. Madam Minister, please understand that majority of
the old people in Ghana have long given up on life, and they are stampeding
the youth and suffocating their thoughts and visions to the point of
despair. So stop blaming the youth and rather clear the old folks out of
the way.

*To be Young means full of life and living it, the old means passed and

The ideal society is made up of only young people and the young-at-heart;
there is no progressive country for old and retired people. The
young-at-heart are those old people who always appreciate the power of the
youth; the terrible truth is that the young is always better than the old,
more intelligent and even more creative. Otherwise, what is the point of
reproduction? It is criminal not to allow the new to be better than the old
that will not make any biological sense at all. Why procreate lesser
versions of an entity? This does not hold in any industry in the world,
golf 5 is far better than golf 1 so is the power of the two generations of
engineers who created them. I will be personally disappointed if my own
children are not intellectually and creatively more superior than I am. I
even plan to take them to see places at age 10, where I only got the chance
to see at age 31, places like the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
in Washington DC.

*Mature Young and live Forever Young:*

Any one who has read the book “built to last’ by Jim Collins and Jerry
Porras of the Stanford University, would discover that more than 90 % of
the people who created the great, enduring and visionary companies such as
HP, 3M, Merck, were below the age 30. In Ghana life begins at 40, you are
only allowed to begin the process of independence when you turn 40 years
old. One of the universities in Ghana recently set up a committee to draw
the plans for a new research institute, I was appalled to find that all the
committee members were many years into their retirement. How do you expect
this group to create a futurist institution without ideas from young people
working in visionary institutions outside Ghana? The situation in Ghana is
rudimentary in many respects and it stands to reason to look to places of
the Isaac Newtons and the Albert Einsteins of this world.

My appeal to the young in Ghana is this, please take charge and exercise a
full sense of responsibility. Refuse to be intimidated, stampeded and
suffocated by people who ascribe to themselves the monopoly of all wisdom
based on the simple fact that they are older. Ignore any such distractions
and focus, dream dreams, envision a progressive and prosperous future for
yourself and proceed to creating it with your own hands. The power and
creativity to overcome all the difficult situations in this life is on the
side of the young, so proceed in this liberating idea and you will be
impressed how far you reach. Look out of Ghana to the Visionary
personalities and institutions of this world and learn from them.

Patrick Kobina Arthur (PhD),