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17 January 2002 | Feature Article

Post-independence generation owe mother Ghana

Post-independence generation owe mother Ghana

A tribute to the pioneers of independence The last of the "big six" has joined his colleagues in "heaven". For someone who has lived to see all the glories and miseries of the country he fought for, one would wonder what went through his mind all these years he watched on passively. Well, yet another chapter of Ghanaian history has ended. May his and the soul of all great names that fought for independent Ghana rest in peace. Probably the most interesting and most important issue today is what those of us who were born the years after these brave men achieved independence for Ghana are doing, either to emulate their good examples or to learn from their mistakes. Yes, they did make mistakes but unlike you and I, they had no predecessors, they were the pioneers, they had to be innovative, they had to use their creative abilities, they had to learn from their own mistakes. The dilemma from learning from one's own mistakes is that the only thing one could do at times is to say "if I had known…". These men and their followers did what they believed were their responsibilities at the time - not to let their children go through degradation in the hands of foreigners. They were committed not to let you and I see foreigners as role models, they were committed to the maintenance of our cultures and traditions, their ideals were to see the people within the territory called Ghana make their own determinations and make decisions of their own, what they wanted for Ghana and her people was "Freedom and Justice". They did their best but was their best enough? Some would say yes others would say no. I say yes, at least in relation to what you and I are doing today to enhance and maintain the values they envisaged for us. They fought for a free and united Ghana, their dreams were to see a prosperous country where her sons and daughters would be the architects and directors. Almost 5 decades after they got us "free" we are at each others throats, we are struggling to become those they didn't want us to see as role models. We are thinking of our individual successes and glories, our collective responsibility for our country is almost non-existent (my independent view). What legacy do we intend to leave to the next generation? Today, we talk about these men with pride and admiration. The question is what would our children be saying about us come the next 50 years? One might say Ghana would have been a better place if we had allowed our English masters to rule over us, the mess we find ourselves today might not be that messy. Well, I wouldn't be surprised, considering the fact that almost 50 years after independence we still succumb to the whims and caprices of our former masters. The question I would ask anyone with such sentiments is what would have happened to our individual and national pride? Despite our shortfalls of nodding to the master when in reality we ought to shake our heads, I still see the Ghanaian as a very proud individual, we still maintain our cultural and traditional values though with diminishing returns. We still maintain our national pride and we can differentiate what is Ghanaian from what is foreign. I'll rather be a proud Ghanaian with my cultural values and national identity than to live in material "comfort" and be a confused individual as far as cultural identity is concerned. One thing we are all proud of is what we call mother. The word mother is a sacred word in all societies, they bear the seed of life, they nurture the plant that bear fruit, they are irreplaceable. I was recently reading a book by the daughter of a Greek immigrant to Sweden who has risen to fame and stardom telling her story, the ups and downs of a poor immigrant family in Sweden, the hardships she had to go through on her way to the top. In this book, Alexandra Pascalidou describes how life at her "Zongo" community, Rinkeby in Stockholm was like while growing up. She explains that the worst thing one could tell a fellow child in her community, which residents are from the four corners of the world was to say anything derogatory in connotation to one's mother, well, physical contact is certainly to take place. A mother is always a mother even if she is the worst mother on earth and nobody is allowed to say anything bad about a her. So is mother Ghana as we call her and the reason why our fathers and forefathers couldn't leave Ghana in the hands of foreigners. What are we the post-independent sons and daughters doing to show we love and adore mother Ghana? Building a nation is a process, it never ends, every generation has its part to play. Can the post-independence generation live and die with good conscience without building on the legacy the pioneers left behind, knowing that they shed their blood for our sake? They did their best even if you might say that their best was not good enough. At least they achieved what others had to fight for years for and they were the first in Africa - Independence. The last of the pioneers has just left the scene and I believe inspite of their mistakes, they can rest in perfect peace because they achieved their main goal. Politically it was a big achievement but they never said they were going to do it all in one day. They paved the way for us so what are we doing to build on their foundation? I dare say that those who came after the pioneers have failed in many aspects. The turn has now come to those of us who were born after independence. Fortunately and most unfortunately, the majority of Ghanaians in the Diaspora (speculation) are the post-independence children, those who did not play in the "colonial sand". Fortunately because in the new world, which is today being described as a global village we have to take inputs from the outside world. Through that we can pick and choose and combine with what is ours and create something of our own. We also have the opportunity of comparing and relating to others. Furthermore, learning from predecessors is always a good lesson and history tells us that architectural work of fighting for Ghana's independence actually started in London. I was privileged to meet the late Prof. Twum Barima in London in 1986 as a young and struggling student. Sitting together alone with him at a breakfast table, he narrated the story of how Kwame Nkrumah and co. With patriotic drive and the love for their country held meetings in London to plan the fight for independence. So my question is where is the patriotism of those of us living in the developed world who claim to love our country the same way Nkrumah, JB Danquah, Twum Barimah and co did doing to continue where they left off with the kind of love and unity they demonstrated? It is most unfortunate that able men and women of the post-independence generation abound in foreign countries. It has now come to our turn to continue the process, a process of development and unity. It is now our turn to build upon what the predecessor have built and to repair what those who came after the pioneers have managed to destroy. We have to set new rules, diversification if need be. The physically strong, the free educated ones through the toil and sweat of our aged cocoa farmers are living either in the luxury or misery of the foreign world. Some left the shores of mother Ghana to acquire more knowledge with the poor cocoa farmers money with the promise to return to help make life easier for the poor farmer. Others left out of frustration because they did not see the future giving them what our freedom fighters had envisaged. Some have acquired the knowledge and have tasted the luxury of the white man. Others regret they ever left the shores of beautiful and ever loving Ghana. Irrespective of category and situation we have remained in the land of the foreigner, we have become the foreigners, for better or for worse. Those living in luxury feel too comfortable to return to pay back their dues to the poor farmer. Those living in misery are too scared, disappointed and confused to return home for fear of becoming a burden on the poor farmer. Whatever category we belong to, as long as we remain the foreigners, the loser is the poor farmer and the poor factory worker who toiled on our behalf. The loser at the end of the day is mother Ghana. Those of us who call ourselves intellectuals living in the land of the white man do not even understand our responsibilities so what appreciation do we show to those who fought to free us from the foreigners? When are we going to pay back what the poor farmer lent out to us? No Sir/Madam, the periodical Dollars and Euros you send home are not enough payment. There is nothing that makes a mother as happy as a supposedly lost son or daughter returning home. Mother Ghana needs you at home, you owe her. Ghana want her post-independent sons and daughters to make a pact of devotion and dedication, to vow to work together as a group to see to her welfare. The poor farmer want returns for her investment, we owe her and we owe Ghana.

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