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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Columnist: Ametepey, Stephen

Is Ghana Still Enjoying Past Glories?

Ghana is a country strategically positioned geographically on the Greenwich meridian zone. A country abundant in sunshine, rainfall, forest reserves, wind, gold, now oil and top of it all human resource. Whereas other countries are endowed with one or two natural resources, Ghana is endowed with countless natural resources. Yet we are failing to exploit the potentials of these resources to the fullest. Our glories and feats in the past seem to outweigh our contemporary achievement as a nation.
One thing I have observed over the years among the ranks and files of Ghanaians is the attitude of boasting about the past. It is not wrong to refer to feats and glories achieved in the past, but it becomes worrying if after praising the people of the past, we of this era do virtually nothing or show very little effort of leaving our mark for generations unborn.
More often than not, Ghanaians everywhere when given the platform on air, workshops, and conferences and even in our various homes and workplaces speaks volumes about the glories of the past about how Ghana used to be, about the legacies of Kwame Nkrumah – the schools, infrastructural projects and industries. We talk about our sense of patriotism, unity, and pride as was the case in the past. It is a glaring fact that times have changed, but as a nation and as a people, are we changing in tune with the changing times? Whether you are young or old, take a moment and take deep reflections about what you heard and how Ghana used to be.
During the times when most African countries were under colonial suppression and oppression, it took the brave hearts of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and his compatriots to set the pace in self-governance. Ghana thus became the first sub Saharan African country to gain independence. Other countries in the region got inspired and followed suit. Since then Ghana has boasted of political stability with peace as a strong element embedded in it. From then till now, have we been able to match up our peace and stability with its corresponding developments.
Ghana’s educational system stands accused; it used to be one of the best in Africa. The Ordinary level and Advanced level system prepared students adequately for life as well as the job market. In the days, people could easily secure jobs with A’ and O’ levels. The current educational system has so far not proven to be a suitable substitute for the previous system because focus seems to be placed only on passing exams due to the short time spent in school. Our colonial masters whom we draw inspiration from have reverted their educational system back to the O and A levels. It is imperative for us as a country to restore our former glory in the educational sector by making the necessary reforms.
Again, the past glories rear its ugly head in the field of sports. Gone are the days when Ghana was properly and gracefully represented at Olympic Competitions. Inter – school athletics competitions are gradually fading out because authorities have placed more emphasis on academia and less attention given to sports. Talented students do not find reasons to partake in inter-school activities, their talents ends right after school because there is virtually no platform for them to pursue their God – given talents. Some notable Ghanaian sports personalities especially athletes have naturalized for other countries. Why can’t we re-create opportunities for them in Ghana? The L.O.C should live up to their mandate. When was the last time our gallant Black Stars lifted trophy? We pride in the glories of the 60s, 70 and 80s when football was arguably not competitive enough. For the Stars, the least said about them, the better. Anyway Brazil 2014 is just around the corner and my expectations likewise any Ghanaian is pegged high. Let’s hope the trophy comes to Ghana. Don’t laugh, am serious!
There are vast lands, good sunshine and good rainfall providing a wide array of agricultural is sad to note that Ghana now imports tomato from neighboring Burkina Faso and plantain from La cote d’ Ivoire with other poultry products now displacing our local products in the market. There used to be operational railway lines linking major commercial areas in this country. But they are not in use any longer. Traders travel in long distance buses on our deadly roads and sometimes fall prey to thugs and armed robbers. Vehicular traffic on our roads is increasing day by day. A functional railway system could have solved some of these problems. As if that is not enough, most of our national assets have been diversified or sold by successive leaders. Those industries left are not functioning anymore.
In fact, Ghana used to have clear streams, lakes and rivers in the countrysides providing beautiful sceneries which served humans, animal and crops for various purposes. A five-year UN sponsored study conducted by a team of about 600 – 700 research scientists has proven that `if a radical step is not taken to check the abuse of water bodies we cannot survive after the next 50 years. The case of Ghana is even worse as the once buoyant rivers and streams have virtually shrunk in size and volume. Friends of rivers and water bodies, and NGO committed to the protection of water resources indicates that about 90% of water bodies in Ghana have been polluted to a dire extent. The NGO even predicts that Ghana might import water from other countries by 2020. Our forest cover is also depleting at a faster rate. Our forest reserves, farm lands and water bodies have been severely affected by the activities of illegal mining, lumbering and indiscriminate use of chemicals. If our forefathers had been reckless, this generation would have been worse off. Let’s do the right things to safeguard the next generation for posterity will definitely not forgive us should we fail to ensure their survival.
The big question therefore is that should we always dwell in past glories? Does our premiership and glories in the sub Saharan region – achievements, historical antecedents, precedence and feats in various endevours reflect the current state of Ghana? About five decades ago, Ghana used to be at par with countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, India and the likes. But today Ghana cannot be compared to these countries as they have now made significant headways in industrialization, literacy, modernized agriculture, better healthcare, technology and are now self-sufficient. Malaysians for instance came to Ghana some years ago to study about oil palm and returned with some few bunches of oil palm fruits. It will surprise you to know the amazing things they are doing with this.
Given the resources in Ghana, the vision of our fore fathers and the colossal amount of sacrifices of their lives made for this country; this is not where our dear country is supposed to be now. Ghana ought to have progressed further than this. The situation from past periods till now has been falling standards in education, inefficient public service system coupled with corruption, unemployment, especially amongst the youth, breakdown in railway transport system, low level agriculture, deteriorating healthcare and heavy importation of goods and services which has now dislodged local industries.
We find ourselves in a generation that is confronted with its own problems and challenges which we must confront with amicable solutions. The truth must be told and the bitter truth is that, Ghana is lagging behind in development relative to other countries on the continent. Ghana is sleeping too deeply and by the time we wake up from slumber our neighbours would have left us way behind. The call for action is now. We can no longer postpone the need for the transformation of our beloved country. Our current raw material producing economy is incapable of generating the jobs that young people need. It is vital that we put in place a comprehensive, systematic programme for the industrialisation of Ghana. There are still more roads to be built, more employment to be created for our teeming youth. Poverty, ignorance, and illiteracy still linger among majority of Ghanaians. These issues need to be tackled and people empowered to live dignified lives. The fight against corruption must be intensified by all and sundry because corruption enriches only the few and denies citizens of what is rightfully due them. Let work together to ameliorate the filth engulfing our cities to keep Ghana clean whilst ensuring the sustainability of our lands, forest reserves and water bodies.
Indeed it is long overdue that we came together as one people to develop vital long term development plans and actions for this country. This will ensure a common path, focus and direction of the country. I learnt that images are spectacled at Uganda airport showing where the country is supposed to be in the next 10 – 50 years. Now I ask, what is the national plan for Ghana for the next 10 – 50 years?
The talk is too much, I call on our able president, our political leaders, civil servants, chiefs, students, entrepreneurs, civil society groups, the clergy and everybody alike to all get involved, walk the talk and move Ghana to present glories. I am proud to be a Ghanaian because Ghana is a beautiful country. Let us stretch ourselves a bit to do more to develop this country and safeguard the peace we are enjoying.
Stephen Ametepey University of Ghana – Legon