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Opinions of Saturday, 6 March 2010

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

Ghana’s 53rd Independence Anniversary And The Need To Reflect ...



Some people have argued that the march past to mark our independence has outlived its uniqueness. To them, we either have to find a new way of celebrating our independence or we stop it altogether since at fifty-three there is nothing significant worth celebrating. Unknown to these unpatriotic pessimists, the school children who take part in the Independence Day parade at all levels take much pride in being part of the day. For those privileged enough to mark the day at the Independence Square, it is an experience of a life time. Fifty-three years ago, it was this same pride and patriotism which impelled the founding fathers of this nation to forgo their personal comfort to fight for independence. Despites threats to their lives and imprisonment, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and his compatriots chose courage over fear, toil over comfort and democracy over colonialism. Indeed, it was the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela and Robert Gabriel Mugabe who introduced democracy to Africa. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, the architect of India’s independence, “the only way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to mankind.” Indeed Nkrumah lost himself in his selfless service to humankind and like a lamp set on a mountain; the light of his exploits could not and can still not be dimmed by his sworn enemies and detractors. As we pay tribute to our freedom fighters, the question every Ghanaian needs to pause ponder over is whether this is the nation the founding fathers were prepared to die for. We have lagged behind if we compare our progress to countries like Singapore, Malaysia and India who were not better than us at independence. Both Ghana and Malaysia gained independence in 1957. At independence, Ghana’s per capita income was 390 US dollars while that of Malaysia was 270 US dollars. After fifty years, Malaysia has a per capita income of over 5000 US dollars while Ghana’s goal of becoming a middle-income country with a per capita income of 1000 US dollars by 2015 still remains a mirage. Ask any Ghanaian the source of our woes, and like well-rehearsed chorus, they are most likely to heap the blame on coup makers and military regimes. Our collective failure as a nation to make long term economic policies and take advantage of the very resources that have buoyed the economies of many nations is the real cause of our stagnation if not retrogression. One of such resources is oil palm, which was first taken to Malaysia as an ornamental plant, which we are yet to realize its commercial importance and take any meaningful initiative. It is true that the numerous political detractions are partly responsible for our development woes but much of stagnation stems from our collective actions and inactions. It is not only the coup makers who are to blame for the corruption which is endemic in every sphere of our national life. The coup makers are not responsible for the millions of Ghana Cedis that is spent annually on managing waste. The coup makers are certainly not responsible for the gross indiscipline on our roads, the growing irresponsibility of public and civil servants and the incurable indiscipline of the youth in whose hands lies the destiny of our dear nation. In fact, we are all guilty of the broken walls of our dear nation and are therefore all involved in building our mother land. Ghana is the only country we can call our own. It is only in this land that we are all entitled to unfettered freedom. This is the land of our birth and its progress must be the collective responsibility of all who bear the Ghanaian identity. Happy Independence Anniversary to all, especially the youth, who stand for this cause; and may the good God bless our homeland Ghana.