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Opinions of Thursday, 26 June 2003

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

Tears of Sons and Daughters of Ghana!

Why are the Ghanaian youth lamenting all over? Why are we shedding tears everyday? Why are we suffering in foreign lands? Is it because our leaders are refusing to think?

After reading so many pieces from the Ghanaian press on the Ghana Airways’ debacle, the alarming unemployment and under-employment rates of our youth and the MPs’ desire for automobiles, I’m beginning to have some sleepless nights over the sad state of our dear country, Ghana. I’m very perturbed and I wonder if it would ever see a stable socio-economic ecology, so as to prevent its offspring from meandering and navigating in every corner of the world in search of greener pastures.

Historically, every great society is built upon its institutions that served as pillars- the family, churches, strong communities, schools, culture and more importantly governments. But, every institution we can count on has disappointed us miserably. If one needs a barometer to gauge the state of things, all he has to do is go through Kotoka Airport and book a flight on Ghana Airways- if only your assigned seat won’t be re-sold to the highest bidder. Then one will have the clear picture of where the country is heading and the mind-sets of the average Ghanaian. From Airways to zoos, everything is out of joint. For some reasons, some Ghanaians have the empty belief that it’s much easier to panhandle for money from IMF and every source than to create our own ‘wealth’. The culture of dependency is down- rooted in our psyche. This syndrome is rampant everywhere you go in Ghana, that even the young graduate who just comes out of the Uni has aunties and nephews waiting for him to provide. It has seemingly become the normal way of living and thinking.

Amazingly, the Ghana Airways’ financial mess is a carbon copy of our mismanagement style and the poor planning of our institutions. Things are not working right, folks! So we have to retool and overhaul the entire system. The people in the realms of affair are refusing to think like intellectuals, I bet you!

Tragically, we entered the new millennium much the same way we’ve started every year-very much unprepared. But, we can’t do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. I hope our leadership and policy makers are aware that we live in a very competitive, instantaneous and microwave world, where today’s ideas and solutions become archaic in a matter of seventy-two hours. They soon find their way into international archives.

Frankly speaking, there is few, if any, motivation for other countries or individuals to intentionally make decisions in the best interest of Ghana. With this backdrop, it makes sense to say that we surely can’t and shouldn’t rely on others to make Ghana a better place for us. We’ve got to do it ourselves, my brothers and sisters.

Nevertheless, we live in the era when there is leeway than it has ever been in the history of Ghana. Not only the modern technology has made it possible for us to be part of the global village, but it has also allowed us to have an access to an ocean of information free of charge. And, we’re at least, very lucky to be placed on a fertile land in Africa-which allows us to grow virtually every crop in our backyards, all year around.

But, don’t ask me why in the abundance of plenty we still live in the midst of poverty and starvation. For now, I just humbly urge our leadership to assist in shaping up the economic and social agenda by aggressively demanding accountability and responsibility from our ministers, head of institutions, MPs, Religious leaders, community leaders (Chiefs), and the ordinary citizens in our villages and towns. I’m afraid, if nothing is done sooner than later the question won’t be whether we will survive as a nation, but whether or not we would physically survive as individuals, because there’s a direct correlation between poverty and the health problems we experience in our part of the world.

In fact, there’s an urgent need to put in place a mechanism where real ‘wealth’ could be generated as soon as possible before things start to fall apart uncontrollably. By wealth, I mean the ability to control and own all levels of resources- whether they’re land, precious metal, skilled human capital, public- improvements, institutions and the mind-sets of the citizenry. With that in mind, wealth is not necessarily what we have in our pockets or in the Swiss bank account but having the ability and resources to control our destiny and potentials.

What do we see now? There’s no wealth in our dear country now; unskilled labor force, bribery, embezzlement, cutting- corners, cheating, deliberate youth miseducation and under-education, under-employment and unemployment, teenage pregnancies, poor parenting, and other social vices have engulfed the entire society of ours.

Now, to add insult to injury, armed robbery has been added to our repertoire, as if Ghana doesn’t have enough problems to deal with, with its culminating HIV rates. Sometimes when I look around I wonder if HONESTY skipped the entire generation of our leaders of yesterday and today. Oh yes, it’s true that the combined legacies of colonization, culture of dependency, nepotism and other self-inflicted social wounds have made us very vulnerable and prone to other social vices, to the point that not only have we lost our abilities even to respond to our common problems but, in fact, we have lost our abilities to trust and be trusted. These days, to be kind, thoughtful, empathetic, sincere and caring to your fellow human being is considered a sign of weakness or an exhibition of character flaws. Even, the Ghanaian ‘hospitality‘- which is one of the envious of the world- is gradually becoming one of the scarce commodities in the country.

Well, since most of our government agencies and their employees apparently cannot be said to be devoid of common apathy and dishonesty, I suggest that it would be in the national interest to mandate that our elected and appointed officials be required to pass an examination to determine their level of skills and attributes, which are needed urgently if we want to see Ghana develop. Oh, yes, we surely need to ascertain whether they have these precious commodities.

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (NJ, USA)

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