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30.08.2002 Feature Article

The Road From Independence

The Road From Independence
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I have often sat for long stretches of time in total darkness, hoping that the silence within darkness, will bring answers to all that ails us as a people. Africans have been traumatized in the past. This is a universal fact. Our history is laden with suppression and oppression, nobody disagreed with us . There were moments in our past when we could point fingers at slave masters as the cause of our misery. These evil men had no soul, they discovered ours and decided to sell us for what we were worth. Then there were those moments when we got stronger and boldly but politely asked colonialists to leave us alone to govern ourselves. Then who could forget that glorious, golden, exhilarating moment in March of 1957, when Ghanaians bade farewell to the greedy old backward ex-masters and took back our land to build a future for ourselves and our children and our children's children. This moment that still stands frozen on tape, when we waved the exploitive explorers off our shores and one of our very own, Kwame Osagyefo Nkrumah gave a grand speech that lifted our spirits up high and rang freedom into our ears. And now some forty-five years after independence? The whole nation is going mad because we have too much freedom and don't know what to do with ourselves or our time. It is a shame to know that every day that the beautiful African sun rises and the cock crows, summoning us to tie our strengths and wisdom together in unity to move ahead and heal from our common wounds and scars of our past by building up what is left of the land, we chose to use those same wonderful gifts and talents to wound each other, deteriorating conditions that we ourselves eventually have to live in. What kind of legacies are we leaving behind as the years progress? Petty bickering and worthless words? It is pathetic that in this era and in this generation, when developed nations are busy blazing paths in science, in technology, in business and industry for their grandsons and granddaughters, regardless of differences, Ghanaians are busy debating useless and irrelevant issues. Issues that never provided better healthcare for the very pregnant woman sharing an uncomfortable room with a dozen other expectant mothers, quality education for our children who are our future, better roads, daily uninterrupted supply of water to our homes so we can afford the luxury of flushing our toilets freely after use, electricity for every region and the list goes on and on. Our problems seem endless, but that is only because we waste our minds and energy on worthless talk and petty bickering that never amounted to solutions for improved lives. What needs to be tackled is left undone. So nothing is produced or improved upon because we're still debating the wrong issues. National debates should be about the how to fix things, produce valuable goods for world markets, be donors to other countries or simply to make life better for us all and not the who will come into power next or who said what where. The Malaysians knew they had to begin to construct a prosperous nation from the ruins and ashes left behind by oppressors. The Singaporeans had no choice. The land was theirs and nobody else's. The Indians are still forging ahead. They have a lot of mouths to feed, but they are working hard to produce enough rice to feed their own, which is meet a basic need, even if they cannot be the best in technology. And the Ghanaians? Still debating what speech is left or right and which rights and freedoms were bruised in the testing out of freshly-installed liberties after twenty years of the rule of imposed tyranny. Freedoms, I understand, must be used wisely and not spent carelessly because it has the word free in it as it is misunderstood by some.

Then when we actually have the time and the money, we would rather fly out to check on the Malaysians or the Singaporeans or Indians to see how far they have advanced and perhaps to incur more debt, invite them in to come do our work in our land that we ourselves, in our brilliance and industriousness, just like them, could achieve on our own with the money and time we spent to go check out what they are doing to help themselves. Are we not giving them license to exploit us like the colonialists? Why should they leave their country to build ours and who is paying them, because I know it is not from the love they have for us? Why can't we do things for ourselves and leave something for our children and grandchildren to be proud about and emulate? Ghanaians are always either begging for salvation or going out to check what others are doing so we can copy them, as if one size ever fitted all. The Malaysians, Singaporeans, Koreans and Indians all have problems too, but they work diligently at it. Little by little. It is through this persistent chipping away at problems that one discovers new and valuable wealth, like nuggets of gold encrusted in dirt, to improve life everywhere. These were the same problems that dogged crude, ancient men like Archimedes so that whiles still pondering on a problem in his bathtub, he leaped out naked with shouts of “Eureka!” when he finally found an answer to hydrostatic balance or Newton who discovered the law of gravity when an apple hit him in the head. Imagine how life improved with the discovery of these two laws. It is not in the sitting, talking, then at the last moment, sprinting to others for solutions tailored to their own problems that will solve Ghana's problems. It is in collective, productive, healthy debates on how to best solve our own problems and after that, doing something about them. We have an education just like them, we are competent, just like them, we have the resources, just like them, so what is missing here?

Necessity has always been the mother of invention, not Abundance. I am amazed that if the early cavemen, as primitive as they were, strived to find better ways to improve life, like discovering (mental work) that when two stones (abundant natural resources) when struck together (physical work) will produce heat (resulting product) for warmth from the cold and make food taste better (improvement), then what direction are we headed and what are we leaving behind that will inspire those behind us? Am I still surprised crawling back out of the darkness, from the silence that afforded me the pleasure to reason, to discover that Ghana has regressed since independence and is now a HIPC? I owe it all to the freedom we now have to chatter about everything and do nothing about anything everyday of our lives.

Ruth Peprah
Ruth Peprah, © 2002

The author has 9 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: RuthPeprah

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