Feature Article of Friday, 23 March 2012

Columnist: Yevu, Selorm Mensah

Ghanaians don’t need to change their Attitude

; it’s Needs to be changed for them

For over more than two decades, as far as I can remember when I started to both comprehend and intellectually formulate informed opinions of my own, there has been a populist(popular) outcry on the need for us all as Ghanaians to change our attitude for the betterment of our society and country. This has and is been expressed to be one major step if embraced holistically could propel the country faster into massive levels of development and engender a smooth transition to greater levels of socio-cultural harmony for all and sundry. The isn’t a single day that you won’t hear the trumpeting of this ideology in print and electronic media (radio and tv programs) where authors and proponents’ both ‘ignorantly and scholarly’ portray the assertions that such moves as being what is required to propel the nation into development-hood, besides the political, economic, socio-cultural, technological and by far legal activities and factors that needs to be moderated for such development agendas. Most of our or should I rather circumspectly say majority of our social commentators (acclaimed or otherwise), apparently and unanimously support and champions these debates on such platforms from the perspective of being informative via an intellectual and public discourse but yet there is much pragmatic steps seen to be occurring in this direction.

I take the position quite frankly to be antithetically representative of a paradigm of thought pointed by the French philosopher Michael Foucault in the early nineteenth century, when he enthusiastically dealt with the underlying the ‘archaeology of knowledge’. In order not to bore you with very contestable assertions based on the principles of postmodernism or post-structural though as vehemently postulated by Foucault, Derrida and others, as a way of contextually dealing with issues of contemporary relevance. In perspective, issues that deals with human behaviour and past as well as current phenomenological prepositions, aught as a matter of looking at issues holistically, needs to take into cognisance the wider picture and with a similar zeal deal with subtle notions of control of power, politics and systems that needs to in place and as result schooling the behaviours of the society by and large. This might sound an intellectual or academic discourse, and in effect it is, but the apparent observation of the views emanating from especially our airways seems to lack this perspective as such there is no talk or discussion on the effectiveness of systems especially legal assertions (whether theses legalities are existent or not, or they are but not followed to the letter), and the power this has by adoption and implementation by state/public institutions responsible and in a way driving change in our behaviours in the society. This is where the title of this article comes in. I am of the opinion that, Ghanaians don’t necessarily need to change their attitudes that we all so grossly condemn but unfortunately are part of, but what is urgently required is a system, a legal one to be precise that is or are strictly adhered to by those responsible, the police or whoever, so that peoples character and behaviour are schooled for us to see the change we all so vehemently talk about and need to move our country forward. It is obvious that, I disagree with the notion that to get to a place of social harmony, economic advancement and nationhood development, we as Ghanaians need to change our attitude from what is currently existent in the in our country, from filth in our streets, indiscipline on the roads especially from the local ‘trotro’ and taxi vehicles just to mention a few. I take this polemic stance because of a number of reasons as indicated in the opening statement of this article. Basically I base my assessment and analysis on factors; one, my experience of being a Ghanaian and having grown to see the mess our environment is in, not just the literal fifth but the socio-economic outlook of the country as a whole though every now and then we remain optimistic as we perceive glimpses of hope and gradual economic strength for the average Ghanaian and our industries. Secondly, counting on my extensive exposure to different contextually and cultural environments (studying, working and living) who ways of life and societal harmony well to a large extent (in the states, uk and other developed countries) appears to be what we in Ghana tend to so lovingly gravitate towards and sees as the benchmark for attaining national development. To put my opinion in perspective, make a critical assessment of the teething issues we face in Ghana such as gross indiscipline on our roads by especially commercial ‘trotro’ drivers and their accomplice taxi operators, hurling insults at each other, unprofessional and accident prone haphazard and foolish practices apparently only endemic in Ghana. And the all-time practice that amazes me is and the rush and speeding maneuverers to be first to have access to passengers who by their own and ignorantly motivated efforts wait at the wrong side of the raods in essence encouraging this heinous driving’s. Bringing such behaviour to book and putting our policing and the forces and law enforcement agents on keen alerts will at least curb if not minimize to totally keep such unruly behaviours under manageable levels and control. To change the above reckless behavioural inconsistencies (a few of them mentioned though, not to talk the lackadaisical attitude of some of public sector employees at the ministries and other places manned by government officials; day light bribery and robbery at places such as the DVLA, passport offices etc etc), will not only need or all need calls on education on the negative impact of these but rather an effective implementation and enforcement of workable legal and prosecution systems. For instance, if police men/women on our streets would come out and tell us why they take bribes from faltering drivers rather than inspect road worthiness, insurance and other pertinent parameters, we will be on our to seeing the change we so vehemently being calling for. I wasn’t in the country some 3years ago when I heard and read of call made by the United States president during his visit to Ghana sub of the Sahara positing that ‘Africa does not need strong men but strong institutions’, there you go, am even sure, this line was trumpeted, dissected, and even deployed in all media cycles of the country but what has happened since then. When will our dear country come to a point where this embarrassing situations and incidents will be curtailed and hailed by the international community as a place where the rule of law is paramount, and be counted among countries such as Switzerland, Norway, Germany just to mention a few.

My argument here has reference to making available a legal and prosecution framework, an effective and enforceable one indeed, that will keep such nefarious attitudinal orientations in check be it a Ghanaian culture or not. If punishment such as imprisonment and heavy fines in addition to strict warnings that go on records and easily assessable by all the legal and policing unit technologically as an appendage of the system, the Ghanaian attitude and character by and large wil be schooled and gradually over a period of time change for the better. This will ultimately lead the country to a place where we can be classified among the elite of the developed world as an environment where the rule of law is paramount and hence curb these nefarious activities. This is apparently the situation in most if not all developed in the world that more or less has become the ideal benchmark with which we unconsciously and deliberately must measure up to. Moving from where we currently are as a country to the place where we all desire to be will need a working effective and implementable system where we would have ‘scape goats’ to serve as deterrents to others. Well we shall live to see what happens. To be continued…….

Selorm Mensah Yevu (Researcher Hull University, UK), mselorm@yahoo.com