You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2003 04 25Article 35641

Opinions of Friday, 25 April 2003

Columnist: Abdul-Latif, Issahaku

Our Servitude Mentality - Implications For the Economy

Ghanaians need to be educated that it is not how you look (whether slim, fat, short, tall, young, old) or how you are called (whether Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., Rev., Alhaji) which is important. What really is important is what you know or do not know. The amount of knowledge and skills that a person has is paramount in a new global and technologically-driven world.

Many Ghanaians know very little about the West and tend to have faith and confidence in anything from the West. Three of such servitude impressions are discussed in the preceding paragraphs. The society in which we live is responsible for our mental servitude. Who cares if that did not contribute to some our current economic predicaments.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture, has for about two years now launched an aggressive campaign against the importation of foreign rice at the expense of the local substitute. Figures available indicate that government spends 100 million dollars each year (recently reduced by 15%) to import rice into the country. This is fundamentally possible due to our liberalized economic policies which gives the capitalists the impetus to damp cheap American rice on the Ghanaian market. The ripple effect of such unfavourable economic mishap is the collapse of the local rice industry. Why do we continue to patronize exotic rice when we produce some in this country? By our action, we allow ourselves to be exploited by the colonial master who uses food as a political weapon.



It is our civic responsibility as desperate-looking citizens to adopt attitudinal change to save our scarce foreign exchange. As we continue to patronize locally-groomed products, the GDP will consequently increase. Economists argue that an increased GDP propels the per capita income of a nation. As a civilized, independent people, we need not create a breeding ground for our economic woes expecting government to reverse this trend on its own.



A large percentage of Ghanaians are interested in titles at the expense of their individual contributions to economic development. Like our colonial masters, with that British diplomatic hypocrisy, a larger section of Ghanaians concentrate on titles rather than their contribution to economic development. From the Politician to the Village chief, titles are all that matters. Honourables? Alhajis? Reverends? Profs? Have these title-bearers reflected on how to use their titles to lift this country out of the present economic quagmire in which we find ourselves?



My Muslim brothers and sisters, Alhajis and Hajias. “Alhaji” (or “Hajia”) is an Arabic term meaning “stranger” as the pilgrims are addressed when they arrive in the holy city of Mecca. On return home, they still expect us to addressed them as “strangers” in their own land. Is it not ridiculous? It is true that we have the largest number of illiterates in our Muslim homes and communities culminating in our minute contribution to overall national economic output. It is time the Alhajis and Hajias abandon this misconceived title and reflect on how to acquire better education for their communities. We have a divine responsibility to seek knowledge and to educate both men and women. We should be reminded that the Holy Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said that to spend one hour seeking knowledge is worth more than praying for 78 hours.

Finally, the institution of democracy has been adopted and implemented in a wrong approach. Our Parliament has been stretched on partisan lines beyond imaginable limits. The Honourable Members of Parliament have refused to exercise their conscience on crucial national issues but allow themselves to be dragged along on partisan interest. Parliament as the legislative arm of government is the most important democratic structure that should be re-constituted to suit our socio-cultural climate. We cannot run a parliamentary system like the US Congress or reps in The Palace of Westminster given our different socio-cultural circumstances.

A new and improved constituted Parliament with two chambers of unequal power will serve our needs, The Lower Chamber made of the current Politicians with lesser power and an Upper Chamber made of Traditional rulers, Religious leaders, Trade Union reps, Educationists and Youth organization leaders with greater power. This Upper chamber will exercise their franchise on crucial national issues, parliamentary bills and laws after the Politicians have finished with their partisan and misinformed lashes.

However, one must be quick to add that certain clauses in the 1992 Constitution which debar chiefs from participating in active politics need to be amended. The Upper Chamber with such a varied composition would appreciate chieftaincy, trade union, youth and educational issues better to deal with the current state of confusion in these areas especially chieftaincy.

Abdul-Latif Issahaku
Ashesi University College (Accra.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.