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Opinions of Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Columnist: Arkoh Isaac

The good old days

The study of history helps us to avoid and correct the mistakes of the past. Through history, we are inspired to follow the good deeds of our heroes and heroines to transform the society.

If I remember vividly the history I studied in my Senior High School days, the subject history was defined as the study of important events of the past in the present times. History will not forgive us if we replace the adjective ‘‘important’’ in the definition with ‘‘destruction.’’

In a brisk attempt to tidy up my Library over the weekend, I came across a revealing publication that sent me frenzy. This was published in the (Daily Graphic, April 30, 2012, Page 40).

The feature was on the collapsing textile industry in Ghana and what could be done to salvage it. In fact, my heart really boiled. It said ‘‘there were more than 20 textile firms that employed more than 20,000 people in 1995. By 2012, the industry had just 4 textile factories employing less than 3,000 Ghanaians.’’

Several questions popped up immediately. Why did they collapse? Couldn’t we have saved them from collapsing? The simply answer my big head could offer me straightaway was ‘‘gone are the days…’’ Yes, gone are the days when Ghana’s strong neck joined the head and the body firmly. Ghana, where is your head? It’s gone, period. And that was my conclusion that prompted me to reflect on Ghana’s good old days to echo a new paradigm shift in our thinking and attitudes.

Despite our country being endowed with an abundance of natural resources such as Rich soil, Timber, Gold, Bauxite, Salt, Diamond, Solar energy, an amazing Climate, Oil, etc. that have facilitated the development of many countries; Ghana sits on all these resources yet remains poor. What is wrong with mother Ghana?

Did we actually celebrate our republican statehood this year? Why and what was there to celebrate? Is it the high level of corruption in the system, the numerous environmental challenges being faced, the weak public institutions, misappropriation of state funds in public institutions, the lack of basic amenities for the ordinary Ghanaian, high level of youth unemployment , poor and selfish Leadership, the incompetent workforce or what? Should we consider it as an African problem or a Ghanaian ineptitude?

Before the colonialists came to Africa, we had our ways of peaceful coexistence. For instance, our market days were special and our markets were ubiquitous. The famous Kotokoraba, Timbuktu, salaga, Kano and other markets flourished as great market centres. Timbuktu was a world-renowned center of learning with a university. There were many industries as well: metal ware, pottery glass, iron-working, gold, silver-mining, basketry, leatherworks, woodworks and clothing. What does traditional African industry or institutions have?

The village market, Textile industry or Chieftaincy system? Have they recovered the ancient manuscript of Timbuktu? We have destroyed our indigenous markets and then go shop in foreign markets.
In Nigeria, the Kwari textile market in Kano was once the largest in West Africa. Famine was rare. In 1982, 500 factories churned out textile products in Kano. Today, fewer than 100 remain. Africa not only fed herself, but exported food as well. There are more beggars and other visible signs of poverty in Kano in Nigeria now than ever before.

Afflicted with a bizarre bout of xenophilia (love of foreign), we are destroying Ghana, turning her people into beggars and laughing stock. We have abandoned our domestic textile industries and then imported foreign textiles to destroy ours. No wonder we have beggars invading our streets although it’s a crime in Ghana.

In South Africa, some textile factories in Lesotho were closed in 2003 and 2004, thereby throwing 5,000 workers out of their jobs. The benefits could be tallied in the form of xenophobic attacks, unemployment and high crime rates.

Ghana had a lot of fruit factories processing our fruits but have all been collapsed. All our mangoes, oranges, pears and others are left to rot across the country. At independence we had fruit factories manufacturing for the sub region. We import virtually everything fruit juice from desert and toddler countries like South Africa. India earns over3.2billion from fruit exports therefore, gone are the days…

According to Mr. Kwasi Pratt, the Editor of the Insight Newspaper, and a member of the socialist Forum of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah established over 300 companies in his unprecedented nine year rule in Ghana. Where are these industries?

Our subsequent leaders have done everything possible to destroy his noble legacy. They have destroyed our educational system and then send their children to foreign schools. Our public universities use to admit all students from Ghana and the sub-region and got jobs after national service. After years of independence, we shamefully admit only 10 per cent.

We have cheaply resorted to charging exorbitant admission fees at the expense of the ordinary Ghanaian. Private universities are regarded as inferior, but some of the best universities in the world are privately owned. Teachers were highly respected by the parents and entrusted the full responsibility of their wards to them. They never attacked teachers verbally or physically for punishing their children.

Entrepreneurship in Schools was thought by people in business but not lecturers who cannot set up a five member organization. These are book professors, only theory, and no practicality. No wonder we have increasing graduate unemployment. How can two blind people construct a canal? They are stifling or persecuting our domestic investors. Shockingly, we roll red carpets to attract and welcome foreign investors. Each time a crisis erupts, they never seek African solutions, and they rush off cup in hand to beg for foreign solutions.

Why are we enthusiastically destroying Ghana? The brand Ghana was seen as a serious nation and not a laughing stock internationally. We have brand Ghana as an organization that does not brand anything in the Country yet, they get paid monthly. What is brand Ghana branding that our sense of patriotism and nationalism is fast eroding?

Gone are the days indeed because in those days, our Presidents promised Ghanaians and delivered. But now, they are only interested in promising not to promise. In those days, we had dedicated politicians with people and development at heart. Now it’s all about how much you can steal.

Amusingly, politicians are now looking for one million Ghana cedis before leaving politics. A politician in Ghana is now ranked the world’s craziest politician on earth. Instead of solving our problems, our politicians are best at telling us our problems. They are prepared to steal our monies to buy delegates so as to win elections and sustain themselves in power.

Do you remember a presidential hopeful, Akua Donkoh, who sorted permission to urinate whilst been interviewed on radio? These are the people we crave for to become political leaders and steer the affairs of the nation. God have mercy. We seem to be electing hyenas to protect sheep.

Indeed, we are deprecating the dignity of a once proud people and reducing us to jokers, paupers and refugees in the land of our birth.
Gone are the days when Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), imported and processed raw crude from the sub-region. After discovering oil in large quantities, at Cape Three Point, Ghana now export raw crude and amazingly imports processed crude and flair our gas. Where are the thinkers? In fact, I support Dr. Benjamin Kumbour’s call on Ghana to pay competent people to think for the nation.

The so-called economic consultants claim it is economically wise to import Brent crude than to process here in Ghana. What an irony. We have bedeviled, abused, assaulted or closed our eyes to the domestic experts and then spend billions yearly on foreign experts with their unrealistic one mode approach to solving all issues.

Fascinatingly, our so-called petro-chemical economists have forgotten suddenly the over eight other chemicals derived during the processing of refining the crude oil hence, the need to encourage processing? In all of this, we are paying workers of TOR for not working. God save Ghana.

We have destroyed our banking system and then go on to deposit their loots in foreign banks. We have neglected our domestic economy and then invest their loots in snapping up real estates in foreign countries. They have destroyed our currency and then seek to import and use foreign currencies.

We have denigrated and castigated our indigenous form of participatory democracy based on consensus and then copied foreign systems. We have rejected our indigenous African constitution and then copied and blended foreign constitutions we don’t understand to impose on the people. Without any shred of doubt, gone are the days indeed, when citizens dared not to address a sitting President by his first name and try to disrespect him on radio or TV despite his or her political affiliation. Raining of insults has now gained astronomical momentum. People have redefined democracy to mean free speech and guarantee or ticket to irresponsibly insult and denigrate people in authority for political appointments and a continuous stay in power.

Put on your lenses and tell when these newspaper headlines appeared on the newsstands in Ghana. ‘‘Kuffour wabodam by the searchlight newspaper, Rawlings is a mad man by crusading guide, NDCfo y3 akronfo, NPPfo y3 awe, by serial callers, babies with sharp teeth and create, loot and share and others. ‘‘ Mama mia,’’ is this Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana? Sometimes am tempted to believe instead of democracy we now live in pressocracy.

What really kills my spirit is the excessive abuse and degradation of our land resources, water resources and mineral resources. Is there any river in Ghana which has not been polluted? River Tano, Pra, Ankobra, Oti, Offin, etc. have all been polluted. Our agriculture land is at a serious risk due to the uncontrolled mining activities of illegal miners.

What about the Chinese? They are illegally mining everywhere in the country leading to serious land and water pollution which could have serious repercussions in the not too distant future. Are the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources still functioning in the country?

If they are, what are they doing?
Why is the Government not enforcing the regulations that the state spent millions of cedis to enact? Despite the numerous concerns raised by Ghanaian, the president and the state institutions responsible seems not to care about the situation. Mr. President, have you actually considered the negative impact of these activities on posterity? What will happen to our beloved country by the next 20 years if this nuisance is not curtailed?
The government boasted of the yield of cocoa in 2010 that Ghana hah achieved one million tons of cocoa. This was good enough to rejoice over. But my question is whether it is sustainable? Look at the number of cocoa farms that have been cut down or destroyed either for or by galamsey activities. Go to Amansie area (Manso), Dunkwa, Western Region, Eastern Region and the rest and see how cocoa farms have been destroyed. I am afraid; we can hardly sustain our cocoa yield until this menace stops.

Ghanaians have really become slaves in the hands of our own leaders. They think mainly about themselves and their families and not mother Ghana. What a pity!

I do not see why Ghana continuously depends on foreign aids. When are we going to be fully responsible for our own needs? Amazingly, those who give us these so called aids do not have as much natural resources as Ghana. What is wrong with Ghana?

To the developed countries that are always giving to Ghana; you are not helping us to develop. If you think you are the master fishers, then teach Ghanaians how to fish instead of giving us the fish. After giving us the fish, you come back in well calculated ways to eat back what you have given to us. Are you doing us harm or good?

Our traditions, customs, rules and regulations were seen as sacred and no one dared to go against it. Today law, such as parliamentarians and chiefs are the key law breakers. Some chiefs are selling lands to different people without shame. They are now politicians accepting 4 wheel-drives from government.

We have spurned our religions, imposing foreign religion on us. Neither Islam nor Christianity is indigenous to Africa. Why are Africans slaughtering themselves over foreign religions? Before Christian religion and the so-called modernization emerged, marriage was not all about how colourful the wedding ceremony was, but two people falling in love, committed and dedicated to form a union that would last till death. Statistics show that it is one of the fastest collapsing industries in Ghana.

Yes, people married with background checks and commitments. This has metamorphosed into contract and picture marriages. Sex was seen as sacred and could be done by only married couples. We now have open and group sex and attaches prestige to having sex with multiple partners commonly called ‘’battle or gala’’. Pedophiles and rapists have invaded Ghana like tsunami in the Philippines. Some radio personalities, university students, politicians and big men in society are acting pornography in disguise on social media.

This was the era where the extended family system functioned properly. Our uncles, Aunties, and particularly our uncles played a pivotal role for our up growth. The trend has diagonally changed. It is now each one for himself, God for us all. You might call wofa for financial support in School only to be told ‘‘hmmm, mene sika oh, me mba sukuu fees mpo metua ye’’ to wit I have not paid my children’s school fees so I cannot help you. Some family members are ready to destroy us with ‘’juju’’ charm and open physical hittradness therefore, we disallow our children from visiting them.

In some areas, the more women and children you had meant the more respect you garnered. Now, the fewer children you have the wiser you are thought to be. Children are no longer seen as laborers but assets and human capital. They have the right to talk and air their views but not to wait until grey hairs are seen. They are smart and more intelligent than before.

The days are gone when we had only one traditional birth attendance. Now we have several private and government hospitals with specialties. We are the hub of heart operations in West Africa but can’t pay or employ our trained nurses. We happily give military lands to private developers to build hospitals opposite government hospitals close to the seat of government.
Before a decade ago, Doctors trained outside with limited resources of the country returned home to help Ama Ghana.

Now we provide them cars, houses, security and single spine top up, yet they prefer dollar to old tone cedi from our markets and charcoal sellers. Some work for few hours and direct patients to their private hospitals. The few that return demand extraneous conditions of service and finally strike leaving many dead. With good intensions we set up health insurance scheme and gradually ground it due to corruption, nepotism and mismanagement. They have destroyed our health-care system and then, seek medical treatment or even abroad or die there.

We use to watch and act movies that extoled national unity and cohesion but our movies are now teaching us how to liar, steal, gossip, insult and cheat to survive. No wonder examination papers leak year upon year. Do you remember osofo Dadzie Movies and their benefit in enhancing and extoling societal values and customs in Ghana? Why are we enthusiastically rebranding ourselves as mediocre, witches and wizards?

Rev Oyedeop of the Winners Chapel fame use to have an advert on TV which said ‘‘Africa is the most wicked continent on earth, where Mothers eat up their children in the name of witch craft.’’ What kind of witch and what kind of craft is that? Africa is a strange continent indeed.

Homicide issues were rare and occasional. We now prefer to slaughter our family members like goat because of ten Ghana cedis, suspicion, mere disagreement and other petty issues. Some men are butchering their wives for demanding housekeeping money. People are killing others on contract basis. Men are defiling house-helps whilst house-helps are snatching husbands. Is Ghana becoming a jungle?

We use to live in mud houses and slept on top of trees. Thanks to God, via technology, we have what has become known as cranecity, oilcity and scrapercity. Sky scrapers are springing up all over town at an alarming rate with no play grounds for children. Estate agents and homeowner are duping innocent Ghanaians with high rent charges and ‘‘huhudious’’ or strange calculations of years of rent payments.

Pretty soon children from such homes may not know some domestic animals such as local fowl, pig etc. Socialization becomes a mountain to climb because there are no play-playgrounds and to fraternize. They only know their books, friends on phone, computers, TV and room.

Their little time is occupied by academic work courtesy almighty extra-classes especially in the cities. We knew of ‘ampe’, ‘ludo’, ‘oware’, and others as the only traditional fun games to engage when one felt bored? In the villages they attend wake-keepings from one village to the other when their parents are asleep. Others engage in premature sex just to entertain themselves.

In those days, Ghanaian youth sacrificed their seats in buses or commercial cars to the elderly purposely to show respect. It’s now based on first come first served. They are claiming equality and fairness. After all, you cannot blame them because all the popular bus terminals have collapsed giving rise to mini trotro buses which allocates seating capacities to a number and discourages standing. Whose fault is that?

Gone are those days in Ghana when leaders in power and civil servants dared not to corrupt or embezzle tax payers’ money. Taxes had been increased astronomically whilst corruption, embezzlements, unemployment continue to soar as Ghana’s fastest growing industries. Those days in Ghana when producers or sellers dared not to sell their items above the due price with the intention of gaining double profit. We are cheating and treating our siblings as if they are common criminals.

Do you know these areas in Ghana SUBA, SADA, GEEDA, Akonfem, Wayome Hotel De-wawa, Maputo and Babies with sharp teeth bus stop close to the coconut farm in Assin Homaho? Well, if you don’t know, you could ask your ground- Mother who would be old enough to offer you some expiation.

Gone are the days when people of a certain character followed jujumen and baba. In the wake of our craze for riches, our energetic youth are been turned into goats, dogs, whilst others sleep in caskets. They are exhuming dead bodies for rituals to assume status in life. Young men are chasing money to assume status in life. We cherish riches but fails to question their sources of wealth therefore, we call them cocaine dealers and ritualist.

Women were deprived of their educational right because the kitchen was regarded as their home. Now they are competing men in all spheres. A woman is Ghana’s chief justice. We now have Gender ministry, and Domestic Violence law favouring women, Women Presidential aspirants and a strong representation in parliament.

Women dared not to dress exposing their private parts? Some call call it ‘’ma sh3 dwa’’ to wit am selling. The question is what are you selling for whom to buy? Are you a prostitute? No wonder most of them are been married to spirits unknowingly. Instead, they should post in between their breast this simple message "am a prostitute or am good for sex or ready for sex." This will make the work of potential clients easier- aaaahba, edien nea.

As a kid, we ate rice only on Christmas alone. Unarguably rice is the most eaten staple in Ghana lately. What at all is in rice that makes it so tasty like ‘‘alugutugui’’ (casted apple)? We knew of only local rice but the liberalization of trade, several brands abounds from strangely Vietnam, USA with their rice masters and cohorts. That’s because we are struggling to manage the controversial Aveyeme rice farm.

We have succeeded in impede domestic trade with bad roads, check-points, etc. and then do everything to promote foreign trade. It was all about home-grown chicken then suddenly surfaced the injected fowls as espoused by US Drug Agency. Have you wondered why strange diseases such as cancers, BP, diabetes etc. is on the increase? Bravo, Ghana-Made-Company for promoting production and consumption of local rice.

The stadia were the places to cool-off for thrilling encounters between the local football teams especially Hearts and Kotoko. The opposite is what we see in recent times. Our local players cannot string three passes together? They play haphazardly like architectural designs leaving us with broken hearts and deaths via their terrible play particularly the Black Stars. Asamoah Gyan, how are you? No flair, no quality players, ways and means (juju), violence, confused coaches, poor pitches or sakora parks disgracefully called stadium.

I fear Ghana might lose its core values and culture; is it because we are copying blindly from the foreign culture. We have confused been western with been modern. Currently, there is no difference between modernization and westernization and globalization. Those who speak English without foreign accent are seen local and primitive and the opposite holds true. WHY?
Our unborn generation might meet the absence of those beautiful traditional games we can boast of. The technologically sophisticated advanced games which never put the brain to rest but rather stress it are like a two-edged cutting sword.

Every day is a learning process but I hope you have remembered the beautiful culture and things you met when growing up but do not exist anymore. So is change really good for the country Ghana? Any country that forgets her history in its developmental process, heads nowhere. God bless Ghana.

Arkoh Isaac-Broadcast Journalist
Tel: 02304649889
Email: isaacarkoh@gmail.com