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A committee for development, please!

By Femi Akomolafe

8/18/2012 9:18:14 PM -

But why didn't you call me?

Call you, why? We saw each other just last week.

You! Apart from you, almost everyone else I knew burnt good copper to call me. And you, you that I consider my best friend refused to call me, ah!

Really, what happened; were you sick?

Me sick? Allah Kiaye. God forbid bad thing!

Why then were people calling you?

Even Abena, my estranged part-time girl-friend, called me.

What happened, does she want reconciliation, a comeback?

You paa! She knows that I have current affairs with whom she cannot compete.

Why then did she call you?

I was on television; my brother I was on television! Didn't you see me?

You know that I don't have a television.

You! I forgot. I was on television. My old lady called from Dunkwa-on-offin; she was as excited as a girl on her first date. God, I'm popular, ah!

You on television, how did you manage that?

Now you are talking. The TV cameras captured me during the funeral for our late, great, beloved president.

Don't tell me that you went to the funeral.

You, what exactly is wrong with you? Why shouldn't I have gone to pay my last respect to our great beloved man of peace? Or have you join the NPP?

I beg you not to tar me with the label of partisan political party. I just cannot imagine that you couldn't find better employment for your time that you have to travel all the way from Kasoa to Accra for a funeral.

You, what exactly is wrong with you? People came all the way from Bawku, Tamale, Wa to attend the funeral and you are talking about Kasoa!

Hmmm.

And what is that supposed to mean? Because you choose not to does not mean that people should not honour tradition and culture, and pay their respects to departed leaders.

Some tradition and culture we have.

What is that supposed to mean, what exactly do you have against culture?

I have nothing against culture. The honest truth is that I am a very cultured person; one that fervently believe in maintaining our culturally integrity as Africans. It is just some part of the culture that has become very worrisome and befuddling to me.

Which aspects are you talking about?
That part of our culture which makes it appears that we care more for the dead than for the living.

You, do you have to criticize everything?

Not really.

Why are you picking issue with the funeral then? I thought you, like every patriotic citizen, will appreciate the great achievement registered by the funeral committee in pulling off that flawless performance. My friend, let's learn to give kudos where it is due. Let's praise our people when we think that they have done a great job. It is OK to criticize, but we should all learn to give praise where and when it is due. Let's give our people due regard in organizing a great funeral ceremony at very short notice. Do you think that it is easy to organize such gigantic funeral and get all those important visitors, including the US Secretary of State, to drop what they were scheduled to do and come to our shore?

That is exactly what I meant that we appear to care more for the dead than for the living.

What are you talking about?

I am talking about a committee set up to organize a befitting funeral for our departed president which, according to you, delivered a flawless performance. Don't you think that we ought to ask ourselves some very serious questions?

Suck like?

Such like why we do not see our people performing also flawlessly when called upon to perform task that will directly benefit those of us that are still alive. Why do we our people care more for funerals than to take care of the sick? I did not see our people showing any care when the president was alive and was rumoured to be sick. Why do our people find it difficult to help a sick relation when alive but pull all stops to give same person expensive funerals? Why do children allow their parents to die in poverty and go ahead to borrow money to give them expensive funerals? Why do we have people who will not hire a bicycle for their father when alive only to go and hire expensive limousine to transport his corpse to the village? These are some of the things that befuddle me. We have been running our own affairs for close to sixty years, yet we still lack basic amenities that people take for granted in other lands. We still do not have enough electricity and many of our people go through life without tasting potable water. We have set up uncountable committees in this country of ours, but we have never seen any of them directly impacting positively on our lives. Suddenly we cannot come up with enough superlatives to praise a committee that organized a funeral. If we have men and women who have the acumen to organize successful funerals, why can't we find people to successfully run our electricity and water companies?

Do you have to be such a killjoy?

Sorry that you felt that way. I am just surprised that we do not think of how other people will think of us. While we pat ourselves on the back for organizing a successful funeral, those that come from outside our continent will wonder why we cannot, with the same passion, the same gusto, set up committees to tackle the myriads of development challenges we see around us. They will wonder why we do not concern ourselves with finding solutions to the question of hunger and want in our country. They will want to know why in this century, our farmers still use implements designed thousands of years ago, or why we still allow our farm yields to depend on the vagaries of nature. They will want to find out from us why, with all our plentiful schools, the simple system of irrigating our farms still eludes us. They will want to know why our women still pound fufu just like their great-great-great-great-great-great grand-mothers did several centuries ago. They will want to know why we, as a people, lack scientific curiosity. They will want to know why our lives continue to be ruled by superstitions, and why we give more prominence to pastors than to scientists and engineers.

The visitors will wonder why, for example, we cannot organize a committee to tackle the filth in our nation's capital. The Odaw River in Accra is choked with human excreta; the visitors will see our people defecating in broad daylight in a river that could, very easily, become a mode of transport or even a tourist attraction. The Korle Gonna and the other lakes in Accra have had the lives choked out of them by feces. The visitor will shake his head and wonder what exactly is wrong with us that make us get excited by things like funerals instead of finding answers to lives' challenges. Apart from the University of Ghana at Legon, Accra boasts of uncountable universities. Even if many of them are one-man, one-bedroom affairs. They all offer what they call Environmental Studies. The question we ought to ask is that why we all go through this filthy environment day in day out with apparently no care. Why are we not shamed to invite guests to come and look at the filthy environment in which we still live in this age and time?

Yes, it could be true that the Funeral Committee did a splendid job of pulling off a fantastic funeral in a short time, but why can't we apply the same seriousness to other issues. Does it have to be only funerals that get us excited? For your information, we have had no light for four days in Kasoa, and no one can tell us why. And here you are telling me about our putting on great funeral celebration to bury a dead leader and you expect me to dance with joy. Sorry, my friend, but I'm not impressed by any funeral our government care to organize so long as I see us underperforming in almost every other sphere of life. Honestly, methinks that so long as we appear to care more for the dead than for the living our conditions will never improve.

In the same week that we are beating our chests for organizing befitting funerals, the engineers at NASA landed a one-ton robot on in a crater on Mars. Thinking about the mathematics and the engineering underpinning that feat alone makes my head reel. Whist we danced for joy over a funeral, other people are splitting atoms and discovering the God's Particle. I say that it is time we get serious in this part of this world.

Disclaimer: "The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article." © Femi Akomolafe.