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Opinions of Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Columnist: Ato Kwamena Dadzie

THE OUTSIDER: May we have the Queen back, please?

For the attention of Mr. Gordon Brown,

Prime Minister of Great Britain;

Dear Sir,

I hope this letter reaches you in good health. I am a young man writing from Accra, the capital of Ghana. I hope you know where my country is. If you don't, I am very sure that at least you know who my president is. He's that tall, lanky African president – the one with the bulging eyes – who came to you recently to beg for some money to provide free medical care for pregnant women in his country. His name is John Kufuor.

That money you gave him is serving him (and our country) quite well. His party is campaigning with it, claiming that thanks to his beggarly skills, he managed to squeeze some money out of you. We hear you are very stingy and that for you to have given away all that money really took some begging. For your information, the free care for pregnant women has started in earnest in several towns, villages and hamlets in the country.

The ruling party's insistence on using the programme to campaign is really spreading the word and I tell you, the response has been very good. The other day for example, I heard some men saying that now that government is providing free medical care for pregnant women, they are going to stop wearing gloves, if you know what I mean. They say that now that you and the queen are taking care of the pregnant women, there is no restraining them from sowing wild oats all around the country.

I also heard a pregnant woman say that with your benevolence she can now afford to eat "fried rice" and "kyibom" (this is Ghana's equivalent of 'Big Mac') because her husband is not spending all of his meagre monthly income on the unborn child.

My people are really grateful to you, Mr. Brown. I am very sure that if you come and run for election here, you will win by a landslide. Now, I hear you are having some political problems and that you are not so keen on calling a general election anytime soon. I'm reliably informed that the pollsters' numbers do not favour you at all and that if you dare call an election, you will most probably lose. Why not come down and contest in our elections in December?

I know you might have some doubts about your chances, especially if you go to the history books and read about how we kicked out your people some fifty years ago, telling them that "the black man is capable of managing his own affairs". We also said we were "ready to take our destinies into our own hands." But it was all a joke. That guy who said all that – I mean Kwame Nkrumah – didn't know what he was talking about. He was a 'wet dreamer' who thought his nocturnal emissions can turn into milk and honey for the black race. Fifty years on, Mr. Brown, I am very sure that you will agree with me that we have not quite managed to take our destinies into our own hands yet.

Do you think that if we were capable of managing our own affairs our president would have come to you five decades after we stopped flying the Union Jack with a cup in hand to beg you for money to take care of his pregnant women compatriots?

Mr. Brown, I think independence was a big mistake. Please, tell the Queen that we are sorry and that we will like to have her back, with you as the first governor of our first post-independence colonial administration. I'm very sure a very large number of my compatriots will agree with me that since we stopped flying the Union Jack, our country has been ushered into a new 'colonialism' that clearly shows that we shouldn't have kicked you people out in the first place. "Our national football team has never been entrusted to a Ghanaian, our water is in the hands of the Dutch, our roads are built by the Chinese, Presidential Palace built by Indians, waste by the Belgians, and our Telecom sector is now earmarked for an Anglo-American company," one of my compatriots said recently.

The "Anglo-American" company he's referring to is none other than Vodafone, which has very generously offered to buy our state-run telecoms firm, Ghana Telecom for a whopping 900 million dollars. We are convinced beyond every doubt that our fickle Ghanaian minds cannot run a profitable telecoms company. About ten years ago, we gave it to the Malaysians until John Kufuor came to power. I don't know what came over him but he suddenly kicked out the Malaysians claiming that the company was given to them for a song. Then he brought in some Norwegians under what he called a "management contract." We later learnt to our shock that these Norwegians were among the most greedy Scandinavians on the surface of the earth – they were taking hefty paycheques, which they wouldn't even have earned in their country. So we threw them out too. We have a few Ghanaians running the company now and it's very unclear the direction they want to take the company. That's why we are bringing it to Vodafone.

If you are as smart as I have been made to believe you are, Mr. Brown, you will realise that this is not merely a business transaction between our Ghana Telecom and your Vodafone. It is also a desperate SOS call. We are telling you that we need you, the good people of Great Britain, back in our country. Can we come to some sort of arrangement under which we will become the Queen's subjects once again? Please?

For fifty years, we have done our best to manage our own affairs but the results have always been worst than anyone could have imagined. Our health system is in no better shape than your forefathers left it. Korle Bu, the hospital built by one of your ancestors, is still our major teaching hospital. But it is now like a transit point to the graveyard. If you go there and you don't die, you will come back home with memories you don't want to keep.

Our people come to your country to get the best education (and some of them even return speaking like they were born in Buckingham Palace). Every morning, hundreds of my compatriots form a long queue (what we like to call a "lorgorligi line") in front of your high commission here – just to get a visa to come to your country. In fact, the situation in the country is so bad that even our president doesn't like staying here. Since he became president, he has made it clear that travelling is his favourite past time. Whiles travelling, he has been wise enough to beg other world leaders to help us out. He has begged for (and received) money from the Japanese, the Chinese, the Americans, the Koreans and even from the Malaysians. It's very undignifying for a country formerly known as the Gold Coast to go around begging. That's something we never did when we used to sing "God save the Queen."

Mr. Brown, I know you are a very busy man so I won't bore you with the litany of misfortunes that have befallen us since we told the Queen to sod off. But I'm asking you to kindly go to her and tell her that we are sorry and that we will be more than delighted to have her as our Queen once again. We don't have any lose cannons like Kwame Nkrumah running around anymore and I'm sure that if she came – possibly with you – we will never kick her out again.

We have learnt our lessons. Independence was a bad idea.