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Opinions of Thursday, 17 March 2016

Columnist: Alexander Nyarko Yeboah

Has our independence served its purpose?

The 6th of March 1957 does not only mark the independence day of the Republic of Ghana but also signifies the emancipation of the black man from imperialist domination and control. The independence of Ghana is, therefore, symbolic of the freedom and liberation of the African. The question, however, is that fifty-nine years on, has our independence achieved its desired goal? Has the Ghanaian and for that matter the African made it what it is supposed to be?

Sadly, the obvious answer is NO. In sharp contrast with the independence of the United States of America (U.S.A) which signalled the beginning of that country’s prosperity and advancement, it appears that Africans after taking over their political and economic destiny rather plunged the continent into decades of uncertainty and underdevelopment. Malaysia, which had independence the same year with Ghana, has transformed her economy into what is now the envy of most African countries. Indeed, it is obvious that most African states after independence have not fared well till date.

First of all Kwame Nkrumah was not wrong when he said that “the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked with the total liberation of the African continent.” We dismissed this statement as if it was mere political talk, but time has proven that indeed he was right. And it is interesting that after almost 60 years of that proclamation, the African people have not made any move to unite. The closest we came to was the Accra Summit in 2007 which sought to bring about a clear policy towards unification, but what did we get?The usual rhetoric with our leaders failing to come out with anything concrete.

What we are left with is individual nations within the continent struggling indefinitely to salvage their economies from perpetual deterioration. What it means is that there is very little economic cooperation between African states but much dealing between African states and the Western world. The result is that we are cajoled into unfair trade, deceived with grants, burdened with loans to the extent that foreign institutions now dictate the pace of our governance. And it is funny to note that the more we borrow and accept their conditions, the poorer we become and the more we must continue to depend on them.

This has impoverished our economies indeed with serious unemployment staring us in the face. As if that is not enough we are made to go through stringent austere measures aimed at cutting down spending so government could save funds to sustain our ailing economy. This obviously leads to massive corruption in all fibres of society, because everybody is ‘hot’. Even the politicians who control the purse are hot because they need excess money to throw around and do “the big man thing.” It is funny to see how everybody expects some gift or bribe before rendering services for which they are employed and paid.

Part of the result now is the massive exodus of Africans from the continent to seek greener pastures in Europe. It is sad to see scores of young people die trying to cross the Sahara and Mediterranean into paradise. It is sad when our televisions show hundreds of immigrants trapped between the sea and fenced territories in Europe because they cannot enter. What are they fleeing from; why can’t they stay at home? This indeed is a million dollar question. They are fleeing from mismanaged economies that could have otherwise done well; they are fleeing from years of bad politicking which has given birth to some of the worst policies the world has ever known.

And so whilst the world is regretting the barbaric act of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the very people who were victims of the inhuman trade are massing themselves up to go back into slavery. It is terrible when we lose our vital human resource to the advanced countries. The most terrible is when our brains are drained everyday with our experts running away daily to go and enrich the economies of the West. But is it their fault; could the blame really be laid at their doorstep?

Fifty-nine years of our independence Ghana, and for that matter Africa is yet to find our political rhythm. George Washington, the first President of the U.S.A decided voluntarily not to go for a third term. And from that time it became a convention for elected presidents of that country to go for only two terms. It was only Franklin D. Roosevelt who broke the convention to allow him continue his involvement in the Second World War. But in Africa, almost all the immediate post-independence presidents opted for one-party states and declared themselves life presidents because they did not see other people capable of ruling. And so politically, we got it wrong altogether.

Some governments also think only of perpetuating their rule rather than creating prosperity for the people. This has led to the emergence of cruel leaders on the continent; the carnage caused by Idi Amin Dada of Uganda and Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Republic can never be blotted out of our memory.

So it is obvious that we have been immersed in a political mess partly because as a people, we have never found reason with ourselves. We always seem to want to bring the other person down forgetting that the downfall of the regime can affect us all. Even the opposition within the African body-politic cannot be ruled out of this because they could go to all lengths to muddy the waters for governments to fail so that power could revert to them.

The earlier we sit up as Africans and begin to seriously consider unification, clean up our politics, and break away from the foreign dependency syndrome, the better for the future of our continent.

Long live Ghana, long live Africa!