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Opinions of Thursday, 11 March 2010

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

If You Want to Screw Ghana, At least Use A Condom!

A Straight –Up Request: If You Want to Screw Ghana, At least Use A Condom!

YEP, IF YOU WANT to rape Ghana and start cashing in on her misery at least use a condom and be more humane because we’re destroying the nation inside out.

“What”? You have a problem with that? This is not an oh-no moment. I‘m just trying to lift the veil on the Ghanaians’ iniquities or inequities—take your pick.

Welcome to what I hope is the most truthful, blunt, straightforward, no holds barred, no nonsense piece you have ever read. It’s a personal piece; me talking straight with you as if we were hanging out in bar and talking about the national issues. . You’re about to get into a championship fight with your own conscience. You will be knocked around and many of your cherished selfish ideas and greedy tendencies will get punched and stomped on. Like a roller coaster, your stomach will drop and you might have trouble breathing. But don’t worry, you’ll arrive safely at the other end of this piece--trust me!

At least, most people in this business of writing for a wide readership are more subtle than this. They usually try to be a little discrete in their request for the fear of losing their readers or being attacked or ridiculed.

But, I’m not the one. I’m usually straight –up most of the time in my writing. I do not sugarcoat my points; neither do I try to increase my fan club membership by being soft on issues. So this time I’m asking you to be thoughtful and humane when you’re screwing up Ghana, literally and figuratively. I’m asking you to do it NOW! Please don’t say it has nothing to do with you. Oh, yes, it does! If we don’t we’re going to pay a price down the road.

So, as I was saying and you so rudely interrupted me, Ghana’s success or downfall is an inside job. Our politicians and policy makers are seldom honest when they talk publicly of money or our welfare. And they’re always promising to use the national resources judiciously but, that is something only small children might believe.

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What’s really important to you? It seems like it’s easy to answer, right? The average normal Ghanaian would quickly say,”My kids, family, being healthy, security, job” and so on. I bet those answers are what you came up with. But, they’re not true. I don’t buy them.

I’m not calling anyone a liar but, those answers are not important to most average Ghanaians. Why would I say that? Because as a Ghanaian how on earth can you accomplish those goals when you’re constantly raping Ghana with impunity? If you know what is important you would be obligated to do the job you were hired to do, without cutting corners. How can you succeed whilst Ghana is literally crawling on her belly? Nope, you don’t know what is important to you, so don’t get me started!

Our school children are failing academically and we’re standing idly by, mute as stone because we have no qualms about it. So don’t tell me that you know what is important. You’re pocketing the revenue from the toll booth for your own personal needs and you want to tell me that you know what is important for the country?

As a teacher, you spend more quality hours for your personal business than being in the class room to teach. You want to tell me you know what is important? Thanks to the illegal timber loggers and chain- saw operators, Ghana’s vegetation is gradually becoming a desert. Let’s be real!

What sort of country do you want your kids to inherit? I’m just warming you up, so stay with me!

However, if that offends you, please put this away or click on a different article ASAP, and make yourself happy.

I have a few issues with what has happened in Ghana lately that makes me shake my head in disbelief. These issues can teach us a lesson or two about what ‘success’ really means. Ghana’s inclination to succeed is being hampered by our desire to succeed by any means necessary, without her (Mother Ghana).Yet we seem to expect more from Ghana than what we’re willing to give her. But, can we realistically be emotionally happy living in the midst of an endemic poverty?

With the economy struggling, increased middle- class anxiety and social safety net collapsing under their weight, more and more Ghanaians are looking for ways to make quick money by any means necessary. The recession is causing deep anxiety among millions (especially the haves), who fear that the political situation is trampling on their rights and freedom. Their “pains” go deep, especially when the party they don’t support is in power. As a result they depend on false assumption that they can succeed without Ghana. Therefore they don’t care whether or not Ghana makes it because they are not waiting for Ghana and that it’s not their duty to see Ghana prosper.

Come on folks, I know life is full of pot holes and temptations. Therefore, you will be ridiculed for not taking the easy road when you know you should take the right road. You will be laughed at for trying to do the Right Thing in the name of mother Ghana. You will be criticized for going by the book. Your friends and family members will give you crap for being a cause for change but not an effect. You will be at odds for setting up standards and raising the bar a little. But, Ghana’s success or downfall is an inside job and we all have a role to play.

I just returned from Ghana after two months on facts -finding expedition .It was my voyage into the pure essence of what really is holding Ghana from seeing the socio-economic Promised Land.

It’s a fact; most Ghanaians irrespective of their background, educational attainment, political affiliation, social status or wealth have this mindset: They think they can make it without the country, period! They don’t think their success is directly linked to the success of the nation. In other words, we think we do not need Ghana’s development and progress as a measurement of our own success. But can we grow socially and economically while the nation is stagnant? This is what goes on in Ghana. How did we arrive at that juncture?

My friend Buck put his own spin on it and he was right .He said, “put a Nigerian or a Ghanaian on the street of London or New York as a traffic warden and he does the job with all his might, without the thought of bribe .But, put the same person in Ghana or Nigeria, the next minute he will steal or solicit for bribe. Wage level is not enough of an excuse, rather a social and cultural mentality that says a position is an opportunity to enrich yourself”----Amen!

On my trip, I also found out there remains a wall between the poor and everyone else. Apart from inequality, which has grown significantly in the last two decades, a social barrier remains. There is a little direct contact between the haves and have nots. In effect we live in two nations, separate and unequal. If you don’t believe me go to the East-Legon.

But, can that go on forever?

Why should you give your time and financial resources to help members of your society who are struggling and who are often marginalized? What benefits are gained by people who reach out to others in need? What kind of self-reflection is required to give something wisely for the betterment of your nation?

Why is it important not to spend the nation’s money on yourself? Why is it important to do the right job when others are slacking? Why is it so important to make a right decision when you have other choices? Why can’t you live within your means so you can be a little truthful to yourself and the people with whom you come in contact? Why so many lies in Ghana? It’s either truth or it’s a lie. Why so many Ghanaians have the incentive to seek short-term rewards, at expense of long-term prosperity? Answering these and other questions will help you to understand what ‘success’ is all about. It will also help you to teach yourself and your kids valuable lessons about success, life and happiness.

Here is a story about how an average Ghanaian thinks, that illustrates what I’m talking about: A young Mp decided to acquire a lot of money and worldly toys before his party is out of power. So he embarked on his’ mission’ the first year he was voted into office.

He designed a cockamamie scheme to dupe the government and his constituency by misusing the funds intended to provide life amenities for the people who voted for him. He built mansions upon mansions in his home town and at East-Legon .He accumulated fleet of cars and trucks—all at the expense of mother Ghana, by some means which will be very difficult to uncover without a whistleblower, even if the auditors are independent and objective.

In the eyes of the people and his contemporaries he was “successful”, until one day he realized that it’s impossible for anyone to succeed without having tempo with one’s own country. One fateful night when armed robbers stormed his house he called the police on his cell phone but, the police could not come to his aid because they lack vehicles and other crime fighting tools. His so -called success story is in smoke. That is the price of individual's success without the nation’s. This illustration is generic, and doesn’t refer to any particular person’s circumstance.

Anyway, are you aware that your deceit, selfishness, thoughtlessness, embezzlement, nepotism and unpatriotic tendencies that you carry around with you---without any consideration of the people whom you hurt along the way--- are hurting your country?. Your one track mind set of succeeding is more important to you than anything else because Ghana’s progress is not part of your agenda.

However, no real successful person wants to live in a country that doesn’t match with his own success. In other words, how good is your success when everything and everyone around you is suffering and stagnant?

We will all fall down or rise together. Therefore, if you want to enjoy your success, you better do something about the condition of your country, town, neighborhood and community .The plastic bags which are choking up the landfills are your responsibility too. The poor academic record of our kids, in our towns and villages is our responsibility. The water shortages in the town are our own making because we run our SUV’s on the pipelines with impunity. All our rivers are being polluted by indigenous and foreign mining companies, but it seems no one is saying a damn thing. Look at Ghana’s success. Do you really like what you see? Very impressive, huh?

Yes, Ghana has discovered oil but, sorry to rain in on your hopes and aspirations. I apologize to my more sensitive readers as this is rougher language than I normally use in my rants. Are you offended? Sorry! But seriously, grow up!

Sure, some overly sensitive folks, perhaps those with a bit of guilty conscience, may attack my comments with vengefulness. Some of you will point out how you made it on your own and that you don’t care what anyone says or thinks of how you made your money. Good for you! No one is trying to exploit your success.

Human nature being what it is, some may argue that each one for himself. Therefore you can grab as much as you can while the country is anemic. Good for you again! I hope you have a nice sleep when you go to bed.

Some of you may even argue that it is not anyone’s business how you made your money and live your life. As long as you and your family are doing ok, there‘s no cause for an alarm. Seriously? Okay, then good for you one more time!

Do what you want to do to amass as many houses and cars and roll the dice with your nation’s future. If that’s your stance on social responsibility, then good for you. Let’s see how that works out for you and your family a decade from now, when the country goes down the tube and everyone around you is bleeding.

When your family can’t sleep at night because of armed robbers you would see your role in Ghana’s lack of progress. When Ghanaian children can’t read or write you’ll know your role in the society and how you help to perpetuate the national decline. Whilst Ghanaian workforce can’t compete on an international arena you can go ahead and brag about your success when you keep duping your country. As a road contractor aren’t you proud that our roads are a death trap? Aren’t you tired of too many funerals on Saturdays?

When things start to fall apart uncontrollably and rapidly a decade from now maybe, just maybe, you will pay attention to what I have been writing about all these years. You would also realize that I’m not having some sort of psychological episode.

Yes, I know some of you have had your blood pressure soar about my writing and my stance on national issues. But, before any of you blow a gasket, you have to understand one point in this piece: Hello, you can’t and won’t enjoy your “success” and all your worldly toys unless you help Ghana to walk the same pace with you. You get it? Good!

Oh yes, I know some of you will attack me for using a simplistic approach to tackle such complex problems in Ghana. You will say our problems are not black and white; therefore I have no idea about the ‘gray area’ of life in Ghana. No kidding! Are you serious?

Thanks for pointing that out to me. How would I know that? I have never had financial problems or any life challenges. Yeah, I went to Ivy League schools, so I have never attended run-down schools with no desks or reading books. I have never attended school under a mango tree. I have never seen hardships. I have never lived in a poor neighborhood or in a house without any electricity or running water. I have lived a completely sheltered life in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan, blessed with positive life trimmings and all the good stuff. So I have no clue.

I have less real life experiences that real people face and honestly had no idea that life is hard and not fair. Folks, I know life is full of potholes and we tend to look out for the number one—our individual interests .It’s just that I think we all have roles to play if we want to enjoy our so-called success in peace and harmony.

We have become too comfortable, enjoying our ill-gotten gains with no regard to how the country fares. Everyone is trying to get whatever they can get their hands on without any obligation or remorse.

Things are so bad and out of joint that I want people to begin to think more in terms of the general welfare of the nation as opposed to individual success. We need to recognize that we’re either going to rise together or perish together as a nation.

It’s easier to live in your own on little world and pretend that what goes on outside is not your concern. From the piled-up garbage in our midst, potholes, the tendency to pocket the revenue from the toll booth, for your own personal need, and other petty vices that you’re conveniently over looking. You’re eating into Ghana’s development and progress.

Unfortunately, we’re too busy striving for bigger homes, more elaborate lifestyles and other life trimmings beyond our reach. But, we have to pause for a moment and ask ourselves: What ‘success’ really means or what is important?

So the next time you’re screwing Ghana, think about the long -term effect of your actions and what is important. Just use a condom to protect her. Don’t be selfish and use your head because our future is intertwined with Ghana’s future!

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi. (The Voice of Reason) NJ, USA

*The author a social commentator and the chairman of the Adu-Gyamfi Youth Empowerment and Educational Foundation at Asuom, in the Kwaebibrim District.

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