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Opinions of Monday, 25 July 2005

Columnist: Kyeremeh, Fred

Ghana?s devt: Are Ghanaians abroad doing enough?

I am beginning to wonder if indeed our country is going to ever develop to a stage whereby we will all be content with. A time when our relatives will call us not to ask for money, but to say hello, a time when we don?t call home to hear the usual phrase ? Ghana Aye din,? but to hear that everything is fine. Statistics show that if we keep moving at the rate we?ve been moving, it will take Ghana about another 30 years before the average Ghanaian crosses the poverty line. Now that is a very scary thought because for as long as I have been on this earth, I have never experienced a period when Ghanaian?s have been satisfied with their economic situation.

Every comment I have heard have been negative. So to think that conditions are not going to get better until I reach the age of 58, which is three decades from now really scares me. It means Western Union and Vigo are going to continue to enrich themselves with my money for another 32 years, as if the last 8 years haven?t been enough. Please don?t get me wrong because I never have a problem sending money home when the need arises. What bother?s me is this perpetual cycle, something my uncles were doing when I was a little child and I have grown to a point where I have to join them in remitting money home to support the family. It is actually a good feeling when you know you?ve been able to satisfy someone?s immediate need. The question is, are there other means of supporting of our families other than giving them hand outs? I think it is high time Ghanaians abroad came together under one umbrella to see what we can do to support the economic situation in Ghana . We have been sending money home for many years, has that improved the lives of the people we send it to, to the point where they can support themselves? I bet 95 percent of the people we send money to, turn around after some few months just to ask for some more, sometimes not because of greed, but need. There are some families who have come together to set up business for their relatives back home so there is always a steady flow of income to put food on the table and pay school fees for the little ones. But that is a very small percentage of Ghanaians. It will be prudent if we can all emulate this small group of people, at least the government will not spend too much time trying to solicit foreign investors to come in to the country because we will basically be reducing unemployment and poverty in our own small way. Gradually, Ghana will be crossing the poverty line because the effect of such an initiative will trickle down like a domino effect. Many socio-political thinkers believe that the best chance Ghana had to turn its fortunes around was the period immediately after independence, because at the time we had very low national debt, a high per capita income, and a good enough natural resource base because we were just coming out of colonialism and were basically starting out with a ?clean? slate if you will. But for the selfish ambition and misunderstanding of some few leaders? at the time we lost our golden opportunity. Ever since then, we have had various individuals who have come to proclaim themselves as saviors, some even being tagged by some narrow minded Ghanaians as ?Junior Jesus,? yet after all these years non of these leaders have been able to turn things around for the good of the average Ghanaian. Even ?Junior Jesus? did not have the power to perform any miracles after 20 years of Ghanaians hoping his anointing will one day come and touch us all.

Fellow Ghanaians abroad, the time has come when we have to come together to do something symbolic for mother Ghana. Our forefathers bequeathed the proverbial saying, ?Together we stand, Divided we fall? for a reason. The time has come for us to apply it. There are many of our brothers and sisters who cannot even afford a mere three square meal. Meanwhile, there are some of us who though, may not be rich, but may have enough, or would like to share the little we have with the needy, but do not know how. Many at times we join associations who give us the impression that they are together to contribute to help the needy in Ghana, but after months and years of paying dues we realize that they have been paying us lip service and have been using our dues for end of year parties and picnics. Now those activities may be helpful in releasing the tensions we go through, but what does that do to alleviate the problems going on back home? I humbly challenge everyone this summer that before we go to our various parties and picnics we should ask ourselves, what have we done so far to better the condition Ghana finds it self in; Can we sponsor a needy child through secondary school? It does not take much.

There have been a lot of uproar over Dr. Wereko-Brobby?s suggestion that Ghanaians abroad, pay a levy before being allowed to vote. But ladies and gentlemen, as controversial as the UGM leader?s idea may be, I believe he has the right idea, but this time the astute Tarzan erred in presenting it. It was too blunt, because we can also argue that we do not live in the country to enjoy the few services that our taxes will provide so why should we pay. Moreover, we pay taxes in our individual adopted countries anyway. I pointed to this because I firmly believe Ghanaians abroad need to contribute financially towards national development on an annual basis. The question is how are we going to do this, how can we guarantee that our contributions will be channeled to the right source without it being misused? Dear reader, before you reject my suggestion, I humbly ask you to think about how we can make this possible, because if countries and even individuals from other countries can co me to our aid, then we should at least try to come to our own rescue.

To be continued with Part II

Freddy Kyeremeh
CT, USA


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