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Opinions of Friday, 11 August 2006

Columnist: Agbodza, Paul

Peace Equals Development

Uprooted from your village or city. Living far away from the extended family and in a foreign land. Thousands of miles away from where your umbilical cord was buried. You are more likely to develop two reactions. One is a greater appreciation of all the wonderful people and simple environment you miss daily. Two is a renewed love for your new and beautiful environment. Then you start to compare. How I wished my people can have just a little of what I see. How my people would appreciate that you do not go to a departmental store to buy the entire foodstuff (for hoarding) because you are afraid it might get used up. No, you are reminded. Here things do not get used up. There is something fresh to buy everyday.

How come there is something fresh to buy everyday? Because there is peace and order and care for the resources we have. We may have all the monies in the world. We may have all the resources: gold, diamond, timber, waterfalls, rivers, salt, green fields, and most important of all human resources. But if we do not live in peace the human resources cannot use the other resources to keep our stock always fresh.

Perhaps the greatest enemy of Africa is the absence of peace. If there were peace, we could go to school, grow the food we eat, re-invest the huge sums of money we get and there would be development and progress. But we refuse to live in peace. We are still fixed to stereotypes we have of others who are different from us.

Christians have stereotypes of Moslems, Southerners have stereotypes of Northerners, one ethnic group has stereotypes of the other. Stereotypes per se are not bad but the fixation with them is the cause of our conflict. Often times, I spend some time just to read the blogs of this forum. I sit back and enjoy the dialogue between persons living in different parts of the world.

Friends, is this not wonderful? Thank you to ghanaweb. Often times, I say what critical minds we have on these fora, mature and full of life experiences. This is our greatest treasure.

Some live in China or Japan, in Brazil or New Zealand, in states of America, in Cuba, in Germany or Holland, or in the UK and we can all communicate with one another. We have a common forum to discuss things that affect our nation. How patriotic you ladies and gentlemen are! For each of us there is just one aim: that Ghana may also develop and progress. So there would be enough fresh food every day. So all of Ghana may live one day in a mosquito-free environment. So children can have quality education. So our streets would be clean and children may not be using orange as football. How patriotic you all are!

This can be certainly achieved when there is peace. With the indulgence of my non-Catholic readers, allow me to use the powerful catchword of Pope Paul VI from one of his writings (On the Progress of Peoples, Nr. 87): “Development is the new name of Peace”. This catchword gives a summary of all our yearnings. May Ghana develop, we say silently in our hearts. All our contributions on this forum are aimed at it: Let Ghana develop. But to achieve this, each of us must be ready to allow peace to reign.

In my opinion, the first step is to allow each ethnic group to live. We must already develop acceptance of others who do not speak our languages. We must develop the ability not to allow the stereotypes we have of others to continue to haunt us. We must develop the ability to tolerate all kinds of opinion. We disagree and yet we must accept one another. At the workplace if we cannot work as a team because of the dislike we have for our co-workers, then the development we are yearning for would elude us.

Friends, countrywomen, countrymen, lend me your ears and hearts. Ghana is the only country we have. The stereotypes we have of others would always be there but we CAN OVERCOME THEM. Conflicts are invented in people’s hearts and minds. These inventions are translated into verbal attacks. From here the inventions move to physical attacks. When it is networked enough, it carries along somebody who also has somebody as sympathiser and this sympathiser has one or more sympathisers. Then it explodes. It cannot be controlled anymore.

I am just happy to say that Ghanaians generally are peaceful people. A Ghanaian hates to be cheated. If you cheat a Ghanaian she/he does not pay back. She/He packs her/his baggage and runs away from where there is trouble. She/He moves on to another peaceful place. This is why I always laugh at the many commentators who say much violent things. No one of these would be bold enough to give her/his correct name or address. Why? Because every Ghanaian respects her/his family name.

And believe it or not, the guy sitting by you in church on Saturday or Sunday may be after-all the guy who used unprintable words at you. They will sing, clap, and pray in tongues, recite the verses of the Bible, and the Holy Spirit would descend on them, but on the net, they write “by-heart”. They do not mean any evil. Well known names (guess the three I have in mind) might be in reality very cool guys. What they write does not in any way reflect their typical Ghanaian nature. Cool and hardworking, cheerful and smile broadly when they meet anyone! They are free in heart.

Cheers all you guys there, mother Ghana waits for you to develop your talents while in the “land flowing with milk and honey”. If you have the opportunity to attend any university, then study hard and read all the books available to you. Then, come back home to lift up the lives of the drooping spirit.

P/S. Congrats to our President for winning so much for us! For once let us all, (friends/haters/disappointed foot soldiers) all join me to say, Ayekoo Mr. President and his team. But note that, we shall still criticize (without insults) when things do not go the way we see and experience them here. Because, that is our contribution to building Ghana.

Thank you for the attention.
Paul Agbodza

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