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Opinions of Monday, 25 May 2009

Columnist: Nyarko, Kingsley

Our True Heroes: The Neglected Majority

There is no denying the fact that a country needs to honor her heroes since a country that fails to do that is not worth dying for. In our history, so many people put their lives on the line to deliver us from colonial domination and slavery. These people, who are our heroes and heroines, deserve our commendation and appreciation. They did not regard the preciousness of their lives, save the liberation of their beloved brothers and sisters, who they judged deserved better from our colonial oppressors. So I cannot agree more with all those who are of the view that our heroes deserve an enviable place in the annals of our history. I salute all our fallen heroes, and all those who still relegate their lives to the background and work feverishly for the betterment of the lives of their country folks who are living on the fringes. At this juncture, I would like to pay my respects to the big six and all those unsung heroes who, as a result of their sacrifices led to the birth and survival of our motherland.

However, I also think that apart from these heroes, there is a majority of our citizenry who deserves to be called heroes and heroines; in fact, these people in my estimation are the true heroes of our motherland. In most cases, because we do not see them in mainstream politics or in the public’s eye, we normally overlook their enormous contribution to the developmental progress of our country. These heroes are the about 45% Ghanaians who survive on less than one dollar a day and the 78.5% who survive on less than two dollars a day (UNDP, 2006). They do the most difficult jobs, but their remuneration is nothing to write home about. They are the teachers, especially those who are posted to the deprived areas of our country with no supplementary benefits; the health professionals who accept postings to the hinterlands where living standards are so egregious; the poor farmers, who since umpteen times still depend on subsistence farming; the poor pupils, who due to no fault of theirs see helplessly their dreams and potentials buried because of their geographic location. I know some people are going to contend me for classifying these people as heroes and heroines. But, if surviving on less than a dollar a day is not an act of heroism, then our definition of heroism is questionable. We are living in a country or to make it a bit global, on a continent where the place of your birth invariable determines your success or otherwise on this planet. Most innocent people, especially the poor children in our country have had their potentials and talents buried simply because they were born into a rural area or a village. And yet, we do not see any conscious attempts by our governments to develop and implement programs to help these people to have a better life. Why? We pride ourselves of being the gateway to Africa, and yet we do not have the development of our poor folks on our minds. It is about time we honored our true heroes. And I think these heroes do not need medals to be hanged around their necks, or national holidays: we already have enough, about eleven which equal those of the United States of America the most developed and largest economy of the world. Instead, they need improvements in their lives. They need food on their tables. They need to also educate their kids to bring the hidden and latent potentials in them to bear on both their families and country.

Based on the scenarios enunciated above, I would like to beg of the Mills administration to do a rethink about how to ameliorate the pains and frustrations of the masses, who always put their hands to the plough, and yet rewarded with poverty; I mean our true heroes. Whilst government officials and parliamentarians always get the best deals: attractive paychecks, unimaginable fringe benefits, etc., etc., our true heroes always get the worst deals. This is why I expect the current administration to put their moneys where their mouths are to fight corruption tooth and nail to ensure that allocations meant for our poor folks, especially those who live in the hinterlands are not diverted into the pockets of our greedy politicians and other selfish public officials.

As we are living in the 21st century, we expect our leaders to come out with 21st century ideas, and pragmatic programs to advance the course of the populace. Almost five months into the mandate of the Mills administration, permit me to borrow the words of the former aide of President Rawlings, Mr., Victor Smith when he was fired, “I cannot see the way clear” about the direction of the economy. Mr. President, let us see the way clear; let us see you with the pragmatic programs and policies that have the faculties of helping our poor folks, who are our neglected true heroes: prisoners of economic deprivation. President Mills, we know your administration cannot eradicate poverty, but can reduce it to an extent only if your chosen officials will use their heads and eschew corrupt practices. If your administration does not see politics as an opportunity to transform our society, but as an avenue to satisfy the whims and caprices of only your party members, a stance taken by the disgruntled Dr. Tony Aidoo, you might end up as a failure. But we wish you succeed. God bless Ghana!!

Source: Kingsley Nyarko, PhD, Educational Consultant, IAF- Munich