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29.04.2021 Feature Article

Building on a Sinking Ship: Reflection on Ghana’s Future by Tsifodze Ernest

Building on a Sinking Ship: Reflection on Ghana’s Future by Tsifodze Ernest
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It is very unusual of me talking about the state of Ghana. Every now then, I still hear the national anthem ringing in my heart and the national pledge of Ghana bleeding in my mind.

I would be wrong to say Ghana is not a blessed country. A country endowed with natural resources by punished with poor leadership. The burden of freedom is responsibility. I am sure those reading might be asking why is poor leadership a punishment to us?

EDUCATION
I believed so much in education. I believe that the right education can help us rise above mediocrity and contribute meaningfully to the country. Recently, I received a phone call from my younger sister in one of the prominent Senior High Schools. She narrated how the school system works now. She said that close to two months since she left home to get an education, teachers are not coming to the class. Even there is an imminent plan to rotate students in a double-track system. In her voice, I could feel an eagerness on her part to learn and develop her intellectual capacity. But in my mind, I understand education how now been galvanized with politics.

Today, many graduates in Ghana are struggling to find jobs. Those who have gotten one are, threatened every day, not cared for, and being over-used by foreigners. Graduates are enslaved in the name of wages. Those who ended up at the Senior High School level are experiencing capital punishment at their various workplaces. Sadly, behind the curtains are a few Ghanaians who have sided with these people to make us slaves and strangers in our land. How could people who feel threaten and insecure in their job give off their best? And even their wages just cover transportation and food (not even a proper meal for a healthy mind).

The other group of people who are hustling on the street to make ends meet has resorted to dangerous ways of making money. Some are into frauds and others have embraced human rituals for money. Sadly, I read about how teenagers under 20 murdered an 11-year-old guy for money. People would read different meanings into it. But the underlying key point is that our leaders have failed us. The act was just a reflection of how the country has become over time. Our media space mostly preaches mediocrity and inspires the desire to make quick money. On the same grounds, some of these people honestly want a decent life. But they have been crippled with the vicissitudes of life. And when we trace the core, it is all about few greedy leaders.

In some few decades, we saw most people in our leadership position offered a government scholarship to study courses of their choice in different parts of the world. They ate full-chicken and drank milk. And when it was our turn, they offered themselves GETFUND Scholarship and connected their children to it. That is why the government is for the politicians and people in the high social class. Those who needed it are still struggling to get help. But like how they keep taking us for granted, they will use the media to demonstrate one charitable act to few deprived students as a cover-up for their greed.

Today our sisters and brothers are eating leftover bones that will keep them malnourished. This depicts how we are missing Joseph to advise Pharaoh to store some foods for hard times. Even in their times of plenty, they keep plucking and destroying the unripe fruits.

A volcano has formed in their heart of many youths, and it is just awaiting a spark- that will awaken our founding father dream of seeing a better and prosperous Ghana.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP
In today’s ecosystem, we see youth thriving to be entrepreneurs. They are striving to redefine the concept of the 8-5 job. Even with their efforts, some of the older generations are still uneasy with themselves. They seem to be perplexed with how the youth are thriving. Now and then, I keep hearing most of them making statements that position the youth as lazy people. But a so-called lazy person can walk into your luxury office, and yet they won’t be supported after they present the business plans or projects.

On the flip side of the same coin, foreigners who have little concern for our ecology can walk into their office with unsustainable plans of mining our remaining minerals, but in the name of profits, they are protected by our leaders.

How can our leaders give almost all our natural mineral consignments to foreigners? And how is it possible that they do that at the expense of our natural resources? And why is it that they have no shame in manipulating their ages just to keep destroying the leftovers?

According to the PwC report titled “Doing Business and Investing in Ghana – 2018”, Gold contributes over 90% of our total mineral exports. And Ghana is the second-largest producer in Africa. It is sad to know that only Prestea Sankofa Gold, a local company, is amongst the large-scale mining industry. Adamus Resources, AngloGold Ashanti, Chirano Gold Mines, Gold Fields Ghana, Golden Star Resources, Newmont Ghana, and Perseus Mining are owned by foreigners. Even Prestea Sankofa output is nowhere near the foreign companies.

I don’t know why we can’t take ownership and build our local companies to match the foreign ones. I learned that our own Ghana Bauxite company is being owned by the Chinese. Bosai Group (Chinese company) acquired it from Rio Tinto (an Australian company) in 2009. Yet, we have managed to frame it with our country's name as though we are owners.

I don’t know if you know the answers to why we can't support and strengthen our local industries. But posterity will judge us all. Our future has been mortgaged to loans and bonds. Tragically, the country is being managed by foreigners. But who am I to say more? But why should I fear to say the black man is spiritually sick and that he doesn't create the right environment for his kind to succeed. Like crabs in the bucket. Everyone must sink to be average.

INFRASTRUCTURE
“Dumsor" is a household name. It only became popular due to poor leadership. Kwame Nkrumah dreamt of seeing Akosombo Dam and other developmental projects expanded and sustained well, but these projects became a burden to our very land.

We have seen Thermal power stations; Hydroelectric power stations, and solar power stations created. But amongst all, the Nkrumah Akosombo still produces more of the power we need and has stood the test of time. Currently, almost 30% of the population do not have access to electricity, according to the latest World Bank data. Now the pressing question is that what has been done over the year to solve this menace?

Every successful government would come and never take a major step in delving into the root cause and finding a lasting solution to it. I didn't see any 'dumsor’ during the few months to elections. But it took a turn after the election. Like they say politicians think of the next election, and leaders think of the next generation. Every new government will twist the plot to suit the ears of the people.

But honestly, what do Ghanaians expect from their leaders? Just basic things-food, cloth, roads, schools, hospitals, shelter, and water. Are we asking too much, or are our leaders taking too much from us? We clap for them when they commission boreholes, buy poly tanks and patch the roads. With our least expectation, they still perform poorly under a reduced marking scheme.

The issue is no different with our transportation by roads. I was happy to see how the railway master project was articulated by the International Trade Administration Agency. The project seeks to widen the coverage of railways in Ghana. It seeks to reach over 4,000 kilometers in 33 years. It comes at a cost of over $22.7 billion.

Wait a moment and add 33 years to your age. Well, you might either be nearing your grave or retired.

The road pressure can be abated with effective and efficient railway systems. But the roads are questionable. The Oxford Business Group Report 2020, pinpoint that our road network remains the most widely used means of transportation. That as of September 2018, the national network comprised approximately 78,400 km of road, of which 41% percent were considered to be in good shape and 33% in fair condition, according to the Ministry of Roads and Highways.

On a global scale, we are rank 118th for quality roads and 79th for road connectivity out of 141 countries in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitive Report 2019”.

It is of no surprise that we spend almost half working time in traffic. How can a country succeed with a poor road network and no proper Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS)? Yet, we have normalized it. No wonder we applaud our leaders when they fill our potholes.

Maybe I don't want to talk about housing and poor urban planning. That buying of kiosks and sleeping in the slum is a new normal. Even though it is integral in the overall urban fabric. An average Ghanaian can’t afford a decent home or even rent one. Come to thinking of urban planning, the only engineers we have left in the country are probably sound engineers. Let God bless us with a little rain, and it will kill us with petrol mixed with water and diesel and gas. Just because someone doesn't care if there are enough gutters or infrastructure in place to prevent the worse.

MEDIA
Our media ecosystem has been pervaded by impracticable and futile shows. It was no surprise when McLuhan said," The medium is the message". I hardly watch television or listen to the radio. Recently, I resumed listening to the radio. I was wondering how people can advertise how to get quick money. How to increase the size of your manhood and how to tighten your womanhood. It came as a shock to me, since most of the media houses have traded their authentic voice for profits. Most of their contents are either delivered poorly or not researched enough. It is very appalling when you see how some media houses are used as a venue to unleash conflict and incite violence. Instead of fighting to give exposure to talents and industrious people in the country, we promote things that destroy us. And we have seen the effects of poor media house management on the people of Ghana. Like McLuhan's second popular statement, "For we shape our tools, and then our tools shape us.” Just like a person hearing the sound of thunder and opening his phone weather app instead of looking out the window.

No wonder, those who can shout and make noise with the least of content are being hailed. And if there is a discussion without insults, then our media is not working well. Just like the leader. The media to a large extent reflects the thinking of most of our leaders. Loud and noisy but with low output towards the betterment of our country.

POLITICS
Today, people are following political parties blindly because they have been brainwashed. It is very sad to see a graduate who is supposed to use education as a tool to challenge the status quo support blindly the policies and initiatives of the government just because they are from the same party. That act is to earn their space in key positions. Like foot-soldiers, they are bootlickers. Our leaders have ended up hijacking the young minds of these people who should rather use their voice to speak and stand for the country.

Go into the tertiary schools today, most of the students in TEIN or TESCON are rather becoming tools that are used by the politician. You can see this by looking at the passion that some cantankerous youth exhibit in defending bogus policies and initiatives of their parties. They feel the quickest way to make money and become recognized is through politics. Whiles, every power is power. They forget their truth is also power. How then would the future be like if these people become the leaders tomorrow? Like their father, they are likely to become worst because they refuse to speak the truth. They put their interest first, and they never become better leaders.

Politics should be seen beyond party cards. We need leaders who think of the consequences of their actions. We need leaders who can say it enough. As I said, the volcano in the heart of the youth will erupt, and enough will be enough.

CORRUPTION
Corruption is not an event. Corruption is not a person. Corruption is a seed. The desire to deploy dubious means at the expense of your brother. Some decades ago in the military era, people were scared of corruption due to the punishment they will receive. In the Rawlings Regime especially, a lot of people that were presumed to have gotten themselves into the act of corruption were killed. But have we asked ourselves if corruption has stopped? It still exists. That tells us that it is more of an idea inherent in us than a mere act.

Just like we can replace bad ideas with good ideas. We have to integrate morality and leadership in everything that we do. But it will be difficult for us to repair our broken leaders. But we can be hopeful that our young ones will have morality and leadership being taught as a subject to them to nurture their minds for the future.

RELIGION
It is very sensitive to talk about it. But after the hard work of us broadcasting the gospel of any faith and there is nothing we can show for? Then we have failed in the area of results.

Our Country prays. But there is a piece of evidence lacking in the lives of many. I won’t say one should not be cognizant of the process. The process is important in our spiritual journey. But it's time we stop looking at things from a religious lens and actively get involved in the betterment of our country. If God wants us to come to heaven, there would be no need for him to create us on earth in the first place.

And if we can preach of him and have nothing to show as evidence. Then we have to take a step back and ask ourselves what we are not doing right. Imagine teaching about prosperity with evidence of it. Talking about love with evidence of it, and talking about leadership with evidence of it. Then our results will indeed speak for us. It is time will consciously exercise our faith through actions. And if we want to grow more, we should understand that the essence of religion is not to die and go to heaven. But to bring heaven on earth by actively involving ourselves in the betterment of the country. Hiding your gifts, talents. passions at the detriment of the development of the country are not humility and a sign of maturity. Bring what you have to the table, and let's push the country forward.

FINAL THOUGHTS
If you have been able to read up to this point,
I am grateful for your time.
I am not partisan. I am just a concerned citizen.
Our leaders have answers to our problems. I don't have to highlight any. But if they can only do away with greed and have long-term thinking, Ghana can repair the sinking ship. We need a sense of urgency. We need to act now.

It is well
Tsifodze Ernest
Website: www.tsifodzeernest.com
Email: [email protected]

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