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Opinions of Saturday, 21 February 2015

Columnist: Yebua, Kenneth Nii

Killing patriotism in the young Ghanaian through national service

What will become of mother Ghana when no one works for her but himself /herself? The fire in us is dying out. The ‘’beautyful ones’’ are being killed. The green leaves are falling off in the middle of the rainy season.
In the early years of my youth life, I was exposed to a number of pan-African literally materials like the works of the late Professor Ali Mazrui, Walter Rodney, Chinweizu etc, and I developed the love for my country, continent and its people all over the world. I entered the university with the passion to go and build myself to one day come out and serve my country, continent and its people. My passion grew stronger as my days in the university rolled by. I met likeminded young Ghanaians whose passion for Ghana was alive like naked wires. We formed groups, had discussions and talked about how we will transform this country. On the corridors of our halls, in our JCRs and under trees, we always talked about how we will reject all offers to travel abroad and stay in Ghana to help develop the country. A course mate of mine who noticed my passion for this country once approached me and asked if I will reject an offer to relocate to America and my answer was that I will not live and work anywhere after school apart from Ghana. This was my state of mind and I believe many of my colleagues where on the same page with me.
It has been barely 8 months since I left school and 6 months since I started my mandatory national service as a citizen of our motherland Ghana. I use to hear stories in the media about how bad things are in our government institutions but I wasn’t able, as an inexperienced young man, to picture the decay that I use hear about in the media, but during these few months of being a service personnel, I have seen and experienced the unprofessionalism, the physical and spiritual decay, the corruption, the materialism etc at our public work places. From the confines of the passport office, through the corridors of the DVLA, to the death and birth registry office, I have gotten various degrees of shocks. I have come face to face with the carelessness and the arrogance of government workers and on several occasions I have been left speechless and sorry for this country of ours.
I have gotten the impression that the mandatory national service for fresh graduate is an initiation process for young people to fit into a system that is corrupt and nasty. The decay, moral degeneration, materialism... that young service persons witness at public work places can be compared to parents who allow their children to watch while they have sex.
‘’The beautyful ones are not yet born,’’ is novel by Ayi Kwei Armah which was published in 1968, the theme(s) of this novel hinged on corruption in post-independent Ghana, the title of the novel sought to make the point that the generation (beautyful ones) who will rescue Ghana from the decay are not yet born. Many years down the line, the ‘’beautyful ones’’ have started coming but they get killed before they can mature to wield some power to change things.
Every situation around a service personnel seem to have been intentionally configured to automatically kill the patriotism in the young future leader. Out of a monthly allowance of GHC 350, a service person is expected to pay a rent of GHC 70 a month at his place of deployment and it is very difficult to find a landlord who will accept less than 2 years advance payment. Out of the same allowance, one has to pay utility bills and eat three square meals a day. Until now, I didn’t know that patriotism in Ghana means one should go hungry and have no descent place to sleep. While service personnel endures all these shocks and hardships, they see their supervisors and superiors at their places of posting in the public sector, engaged in all sorts of shady deals with money flying into wrong pockets. Life of opulence, carelessness and squandering is the exemplary life that is being led in the presence of the future leader of this country. The impression being created: yes, there is money in the system, but no one cares about how you live, so just look at the way we find our way around the system and learn to do same and you will survive.
The innocence of many of these young people have deserted them in these few months, some have already been fully initiated into the system and some are still struggling to come to terms with the realities. The system may eventually swallow the rest of us once the remaining drops of patriotism left in us evaporate. I believe those who will be guided by their conscience and are not able to fit in may eventually find their way out of this country.

It did not start this year, and I believe this has been the story for some time now. The mandatory national service for fresh graduates has lost its essence for which it was established and until something is done about it, it will only be an initiation stage for young people to become members a corrupt system that is failing to work. A deadly cycle has been set in motion which lacks no grease but the grease must be taken out of it as a matter of urgency to prevent mother Ghana from being raped to death by her own offspring.

kenneth NII YEBUA