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Opinions of Sunday, 21 September 2008

Columnist: Ablorh, Raymond

Our over-praised forefathers

Right from basic school through senior secondary, now senior high, to the university, I have read and heard a lot about Ghana’s history from many varied perspectives. Regardless of the political and social backgrounds of any old man or woman who narrated the activities leading to our country’s independence, I got the impression that our forefathers finally fought themselves at the gate of self government, instead of consolidating their strengths around the centre which defined our common destiny.

Certainly, the cat and mouse are not friends so long as the latter remains a delicacy to the former. Nevertheless, when they are both pursued by a common enemy – the hunter, they could all hide in the same hole. There, the cat forgets the mouse is, or at least pretends the mouse is not its favourite food; likewise, the mouse’s phobia for the hunter swallows its anti-cat sentiments. Even if the cat mistakenly steps on the mouse, it silently endures the pains to conceal their presence from the enemy. Together, they live in that situational harmony at least until their enemy’s threat kisses history.

For many known and unknown reasons, our Nkrumahs and Danquahs could not see eye-to-eye and endure their hurting differences at the route to independence. Hence, Ghana’s household hanged itself apart on the lines of self government. Our forefathers, regardless of the great education they could boast of, could not simply see the common lines which drew the destiny of the people of the land they claimed they loved so much.

Their ugly egos and selfish aspirations concealed under ill-appreciation of political ideologies with heavy foreign self-seeking strings blinded and threw them into an abyss of destructive political darkness full of rumour mongering, character assassination, vindictiveness and other murderous petty political acts most of which characterize our politics today.

At attaining self government, many beautiful dreams and visions and especially the strength of oneness with which they begun the struggles were lost. Precious bloods of well meaning farmers, traders, students, etc. were wasted on a battlefield where brothers and sisters ended up combating themselves instead of fighting their supposed enemy. At last, whoever held a vision had it on behalf of a divided people which made its achievement virtually impossible.

The untold truth is that the colonialists won a disguised victory, and walked away with smiles; knowing very well they could still rule us easily from far away. They now have a perfect alternative to the illiterate traditional chiefs to keep the indirect rule in operation because our so-called educated elites could do the job better in the divided house. To be blunt, our educated forefathers failed their generation and future generations.

The sad fact, however, is that about fifty years after Ghana attained her partial independence, we seem to have learnt virtually no lesson from the serious mistakes our forefathers committed. All we have learnt, memorized and, boast of from our complex history are names and dates of birth of personalities; dates of events, and other unnecessary information.

We are extremely happy when our children correctly answer questions demanding Lord Listowell’s first girlfriend’s name, Dr. Nkrumah’s middle name or his grandmother’s date of birth. One is considered intelligent in the Social Studies class if he or she mentions Sagt. Adjetey as one of the three ex-service men who were shot in the struggles, but, the pupil does not really know who and what Sagt. Adjetey and his colleagues were fighting for.

Today, we blindly continue to repeat the very political blunders which made our tragic heroes of political leaders plant their war swords in their own feet. We lack the much needed unity of purpose and national cohesion which no nation can prosper without because our fathers are finding it difficult to abandon the ways of their fathers. It is obvious this is from the political orientation they had.

In our time, the enmity and nation destroying potentials are not residing in the Dr. Nkrumah’s Convention Peoples Party (CPP) and the Danquah-Busia tradition, but, in the latter and the young National Democratic Congress.

With immeasurable mistrust for each other, these political parties and their leaders find it extremely uneasy to make productive compromises and consensus building, which is an important part of meaningful national development. Perhaps, they are not educated enough to know that without national cohesion and consensus building we cannot arrive at a national vision; and without a national vision we would continue to journey to no where we know.

Funnily, we call the IMF and World Bank our development partners, but we do not see our own bothers and sisters as such. How the NDC does see the NPP? How the NPP does see the NDC? Today, we continue to use THEM and US in discussions of important national matters.

Selfishness, greed and their evil associates have blinded our leaders so much that they just cannot see what make us one people with a common destiny; they cannot see the middle route that we all could take towards national development. How I expected our northern brothers and sisters to learn some important lessons from the recent calamity which befell them. The floods destroyed their farms, houses and other properties without asking them which ethnic groups, tribes, clans, families and political parties they belonged to. Nature told them they are one people with a common destiny. So we have one destiny as a nation.

Incumbent governments take credit for every good omen that visits the nation whilst they are in office. Even when heavens bless us with rains and there is bumper harvest they take credit for it. Meanwhile, the harvest rots on the farms and markets for obvious reasons. Conversely, opposition parties are ready to blame every evil that befalls the nation on the government, including natural disasters.

In deed, the citizens are also apart of the problem in as much as they consider it worthless to hold the leaders accountable. Many a constituent immediately jump unto the national fence after elections; so inactive, they look on as simple minded men and women waste our resources. So timid, they cannot talk even when they see their children’s future sacrificed on the broad alters of selfishness, greed, etc. Perhaps, they are afraid of the very people they have employed; they do not want leadership to see them as ‘enemies’.

Moreover, in Ghana, many people belong to their political parties than to the country. Party supporters who do not know what their parties stand for are ready to trade blows with other party’s members of the same status and die for leaders who do not even understand the problems they claim they can solve. These praise singing constituents see wisdom even in the folly of their leaders. No wonder, these unproductive leaders feel they are always right.

In Ghana, what one says is wise or foolish depending on his or her political colour. We seem to care so much about which colour is in government than the quality of life we enjoy or endure. Some people are ready to starve and die under the administration of their grand father’s political party; others would not board the ‘Kuffour buses’ for reasons which are deficient of potent logic. Yet, others would prefer to defecate on themselves to patronizing ‘HIPC benefit’ inscribed KVIP toilets.

The sacred truth is that this country belongs to all of us; and not a single tribe or ethnic group; political party, etc. No single person or group can develop this country without the assistance of all. Our forefathers got it wrong; they failed. If Ghana needs anything at all today, it’s national cohesion and consensus building.

I know of NDC’s vision for Ghana. I know of NPP’s vision for Ghana; and I know other parties have visions too. But, I am yet to see Ghana’s vision; a vision that the NPP, NDC, CPP, PNC, GCPP, etc and all of us are ready to work in unison to achieve.

One thing we should not forget is that until we determine a common picture of our desired destination as a nation, any discourse on alternative transportation systems is meaningless. If we are not going to the same place, why are we debating on the choice of vehicle and lorry station? If we do not aspire to the same values why should we debate with others on our norms?

Of course, there are both internal and external factors beneath our failure to develop our nation as we desire. However, until we work on the internal factor, we cannot make a remarkable impact on the external hindrances we so often lament. We are our greatest enemy, thus, the greatest victory we could win as a people is to conquer our ill- political attitudes.

Yesterday, our forefathers committed big political fallacies; today, our fathers are repeating their mistakes with greater ill-effects; and, it is obvious if we do not abandon the ways of our fathers we might end up speeding our poor country to destruction. We have a sacred responsibility to end this filthy political tradition. Together, we must all work hard to ensure a violence-free general election this year.

The author is a recognized youth advocate and the Communications Director of Tomorrow Leaders Ghana (TLG), an active youth-led Civil Society Organization in Ghana. raydelove@yahoo.co.uk