The year 2007 was a momentous one for Ghana, my motherland. The first nation south of the Sahara to obtain independence, from the British, in 1957. Ghana celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2007 with fanfare – a proud nation. Ghana, the nation, @50 was noted to have made significant strides, especially within the last two decades, and is widely touted as an oasis of peace, democracy and development in Africa.
As we look into the past as Ghanaians and count our blessings, we should look into the future and plan to realise our human resource potential as the best asset we need as a nation for progress. I paused then, and I pause now, in 2009, to reflect on the Ghanaian, the citizen of this land which is 50+, an elderly man if it was a human. Who is the Ghanaian@52? What is he/she? What behaviours do the Ghanaian@52 demonstrate? What are the positives and negatives, and what is the final assessment mark?
The Ghanaian@52 is confident. She believes she is a capable African and can rub shoulders with her peers anywhere in the world. Examples abound: Kofi Annan, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Sam Jonah, Michael Essien, Albert Adu Boahen, Akua Kuenyehia, Joyce Bamford-Addo, Ama Ataa Aidoo, Efua Sutherland. She is academically and artistically sharp and has proven it worldwide: in academia, business, arts, football.
The Ghanaian@52 is very much aware politically. He is politically-savvy and has mastered the art of voting ‘skirt and blouse’ – he can vote for one party to get the presidency and another to be in parliament; he doesn’t vote en bloc. He now reads, prints and keeps the manifestos of political parties, especially the ruling one, so he can properly analyse their work versus their promises. The most prized part of his anatomy is his thumb.
The Ghanaian@52 is an incurable optimist. Four years is the minimum she can wait! She has hopes for the nation and is proud and eager to prove to the world at all times that the black person is capable of handling her own affairs.
The Ghanaian@52 is hard-working. Unfortunately, she is more hard-working when overseas. I have seen Ghanaians more eager to work in all sorts of situations abroad, but who refuse to do same at home. At home, the Ghanaian@52 does not exert herself fully. If she would work with half the passion with which she works elsewhere, what a great country we will build together! She still doesn’t appreciate that if anyone will build this nation to the level of those countries she admires, it will be Ghanaians like her.
The Ghanaian@52 is still looking up to the government to solve all his problems. He doesn’t see himself as part of the solution; his help cometh from the Castle. Soon, it will come from the Jubilee House, the new seat of government.
The Ghanaian@52 will park at a ‘no parking’ area and expect the police not to arrest her. If she is arrested, she will offer the officer a bribe and later accuse the officer of corruption! She accuses the authorities of nepotism and corruption but is the first to contact you to ‘do something’ when her nephew or niece is due for interview in your establishment.
The Ghanaian@52 is still not sanitation-conscious. He still throws rubbish out of the taxi he is travelling in. He dumps waste into the drain in front of his house, and is even caught defecating at the Odaw river. When he is sighted and questioned, he says his name is Bontox! He expects the Accra Metropolitan Authority (AMA) and the Kumasi Metropolitan Authority (KMA) to sort out his indiscriminate littering.
The Ghanaian@52 still hasn’t grasped the import of the motto of my school Ghana National College, Osagyefo’s own school, ‘Pro Patria’ – for the sake of the fatherland. She expects someone else to develop the nation for her to enjoy. She will stay overseas for years, come to visit once in two decades, and complain about everything. She will strive to evade taxes and not pay her income tax, yet expect social services and facilities to be top-notch.
The Ghanaian@52 has still not learnt when the entire nation needs to come together, in a non-partisan way, to decide to ‘change and move forward’. One party vehemently opposes Value Added Tax (VAT) and yet uses it to good effect when it comes to power, even using it to fund National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). Another party fiercely opposes NHIS yet acknowledges its (NHIS’) inherent good in its manifesto and even plans to improve on it. So when will the Ghanaian@52 stop playing politics even with how the ant walks?
The Ghanaian@52 is a talkative – lots of talk with very minimal action.
The Ghanaian@52 is very petty. Our MPs still show as evidence of their successful stewardship in the building of KVIPs! One party wins power and its operatives take over same! How long has it taken us to debate and rant over ex-gratia when we could have all acknowledged that parliament is liable for not doing due diligence, and also that even if the demands of the report were OK, there is no way we can pay in view of the global economic difficulties the world is undergoing now? Can’t we expend our precious energies on other pressing issues – health, education, continuous structuring of our economy and improving productivity of our public service to make it an engine of growth, etc.? She still cannot distinguish and differentiate between personalities and policies, when issues that demand rigorous debate come up. The Ghanaian@52 practises ‘stomach direction’ with issues – we flog one issue until another comes along and then the previous issue is left unresolved, forever!
(S)he has a long way to go to understand that ‘if the nation is to be, it is up to me.’
The nation may be elderly but the citizen is still an infant in his/her behaviour. (S)he needs a great behavioral change. Like we used to have our teachers write in our homework books, there is still ‘a lot of room for improvement’ for the Ghanaian@52.
By: Nana Awere Damoah
Author, I Speak of Ghana