By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Fellow Ghanaians, President Mahama has said something worth unpacking to cast in the proper perspective the reality of the Ghanaian situation. And why it is difficult to move the country forward.
He says that “Ghanaians have a very short memory,” which makes them easily forget about the achievements made by his administration. In a jest, he told a congregation in Accra at the inauguration of the Revival Restoration Centre of the Assemblies of God Church at Roman Ridge, Accra, on Saturday that “Ghanaians easily forget how far, how much progress has been made in the country vis-à-vis their present circumstances”.
President Mahama’s “jest” is not misplaced. It has an antecedent that must be recognized for all that it tells us about ourselves. I won’t bother going into details but I will just recall what the late Kutu Acheampong said that “Ghanaians are difficult people” to contextualize President Mahama’s claim.
Acheampong had his faults; but considering the euphoria that welcomed him into office, as was done the those who overthrow Nkrumah and would also be done to Acheampong himself, Akuffo, and Hilla Limann, one will be dishonest to reject Acheampong’s claim. It is a true reflection of the Ghanaian condition and temperament.
A lot exists to substantiate that claim. Those who doubt it need to do a serious introspection to understand the dynamics of contemporary Ghanaian politics.
And, as is to be expected, those doing “book politics” and banded together in the NPP cabal are up on their feet, over-turning President Mahama’s genuine claim to jab him with vain taunts: that he should rather be grateful to Ghanaians for tolerating his incompetence. Ask them whether Ghanaians didn’t know of that “incompetence” before electing him at Election 2012 and they respond with insults. Tweaaaaaa!!
Ghanaians are more prone to complaining than recognizing the fact that nation-building is a collective effort that involves them too. It is a hard fact they won’t admit. President Mahama has said it all already that the cynics wishing his downfall will be serving Ghana better if they get on board. Good job, Mr. President.
Some of us easily equate the Ghanaian to the olden days Israelites (not today’s Israelis) to suggest that no matter what was done to relieve them of their worries, they remained ungrateful and unrepentant of their wily ways. They found more pleasure in complaining, even when provided with manna in the wilderness.
They were also really quick to repudiate the one redeeming them as soon as they regained their old selves. Ingratitude is the mark that identifies such people for what they are. And they are always dogged by trouble. Those good at reading and interpreting the Old Testament can best understand what the issues are. The olden days Israelites and their dealings with God have lessons to teach us. Forget about today’s Israelis. An Israelite, to me, is not the same as an Israeli. So is it with Ghanaians.
Undeniable truth: Ghana is a blessed country, a rare example of a country on earth that has all the natural and human resources to make it a heaven-on-earth for its citizens and those tagging on to them for some kind of survival and fulfillment on this wretched earth.
Ghana has everything to warrant its being accorded the highest regard by the whole world. If you doubt my claim, just take a cursory tour of the country. And then, consider the throwback to the old Ghana Empire that collapsed in 1240 AD because of the shortsightedness of the people who fought among themselves and opened the way for the Almoravids from the Berber territory to over-run the Empire.
I am indebted to the late Ghanaian historian, Albert Adu Boahen (an unsuccessful NPP Presidential Candidate), who said in his _Topics on West African History_ that “in the first place, the Ghana Empire was not a homogeneous entity”, an explanation for why it was so easy for the Almoravids to over-run such a rich Empire to reduce it to rubble and occasion its total destruction in 1240 AD despite its natural and human resources.
If we can’t make any progress in this part of the world, should we go any further? We are largely the cause of our own doom. A hard fact to be admitted and factored into how we work to build our country today, long after the marauding European forces had left us to our destiny.
Emerging from this paralyzing period of subjugation, what have we been able to do to prove that “the black man is capable of managing his own affairs (Dr. Nkrumah recalled here)?
Are we so lousy as not to know how to use what we have to develop our country? How many countries in this world have the array of natural and human resources that we have? Gold, diamond, bauxite, manganese, lumber, limestone, fine-grained sand, petroleum, cocoa, rubber, coffee, sheanuts, and many more economically viable fauna and flora? How about a smooth well-endowed continental shelf? Not to talk about the marine and inland water resources?
How many countries have such a widespread array of arable land, cutting across all geographic resources—Sahel, Savanna, tropical rain forest, etc.? How about the mountainous regions and the plains of irrigable land? How about the Volta River and the numerous water resources?
Are we Ghanaians really too sick as not to know what we have at our disposal to turn our country into a heaven-on-earth? Why, then, are we still underdeveloped? Why aren’t we able to take advantage of these natural and human resources to be on top of the world? What is our handicap?
Self-acquisitiveness has taken over from everything needed for national development. Where will we go with all that? It is clear that a mad rat race is in motion and nothing can stop it. Unfortunate!!
Don’t tell me that we have to blame our leaders for our mishap. They are human beings as we are and have their own aspirations to satisfy, which is now fast becoming their undoing. If people under them don’t push them, they can’t go off course. Isn’t the fault eventually, then, ours?
Nation-building is not limited to leaders alone. No leader can move his country forward with uncooperative citizens. What have we, the citizens, been able to do to change the paradigm? Why is it that we put in office those we think can lead us out of the woods only to turn round to condemn them after just a few months of their stewardship? Is the fault not with us rather?
Within this context, it is imperative that we re-examine ourselves to see where our own posturing, habits of mind, and uncompromising attitudes undermine the authority of the very leaders that we have chosen to help us solve our problems contribute to the dilemma. We need to do more than we have done so far. Let’s stop being fault-finders and rather determine what our role is and play it properly to develop our country.
I shall return…
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