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03.02.2003 Feature Article

Petro-Religion And The Genius Of Wofa JAK.

Petro-Religion And The Genius Of Wofa JAK.
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Rhapsodies On 'Kindness' - Verse 13

Wofa Jak has achieved the unachievable! Wofa Jak has done the undo-able! Wofa Jak has surmounted the insurmountable! Wofa Jak has finally figured out the mentality of Ghanaians. Not even the great Kwame Nkrumah could put a handle on the Ghanaian mentality. It is rumored that whilst in exile in Conakry, days after his overthrow, the goldsmith's son's biggest fit of despondency occurred when he saw Ghanaians jubilating- on TV - through the principal streets of Accra chanting, "Cedi eh cedi, Cedi, Kwasea no ti da so." Loosely translated, it means the fool's head is on the cedi. Literally translated, it means the descendant of slaves' head is on the cedi. Same difference! He had thought that there was going to be a general uprising against Kotriko - as Kwalonto, a popular Koforidua mad man pronounced Kotoka - and that the people would invite him back to rule. Little did he know.......! Not even Junior Jesus could figure out the Ghanaian people. After 20 years! of his temper tantrums, hooliganism and intimidation, somehow, Ghanaians managed to master the courage to say 'enough is enough', and vote for political change. Today, still half dazed and shell-shock by the rude rejection, he is probably eyeing the position of Chief of Security or Vice-President in Mills' anticipated regime. Farce has become such an integral part of Ghanaian history. Cedi, Kwasea no ti da so! But Wofa Jak beat them all. Knowing that Ghanaians had already gone through 'Kumi Preko', and that there was nothing else for them to die for, that the NPP was the last alternative left in Ghanaian politics, that the masses had tightened their belts so much that there was absolutely no fight left in them, and that 'Boom' in Ghana only referred to an out of print comic about 'Fearless Fang', BANG, he slaps a 100% increase on the price of fuel. And before anybody could say, 'Jack Beble' in protest, he dons his Armani suit and 'hwimm', he is off to France where he single-handedly solved the whole Ivorien crises.. Cedi, Kwasea no ti da so! In Wofa Jak's case it is 'Stamp'! Not surprisingly, the people have acquiesced. Yes, there are reports of a few demonstrations h! ere and there, and complaints on the airwaves where people vent off th eir steam, but in the main, Wofa Jak and his Merry Men gauged the mood of the people correctly. As a result of the fuel price hikes, people are walking to work. They are fighting with drivers who charge 'too exorbitantly'- anything, but a collective rebellion against this amazingly inept government. Junior Jesus gave us the 'culture of silence'; and Wofa Jak has just ushered in the 'Golden Age of Acquiescence', when our overburdened populace 'go sit down and make them cheat us every day'. Cedi, Kwasea no ti da so! And like I ! said, in the case of Wofa Jak, it is 'Stamp'. But it is in the ingenious way in which Wofa Jak and his Merry men hoodwinked Ghanaians that we must direct our attention to now. You see they called in the church elders, Labor and student leaders behind closed doors - get that behind the proverbial closed doors - to impress upon them the importance of getting Ghanaians to accept their impoverishment. In the case of the Church leaders, the Attorney-General, the man who represents my Holy Kyebi, but has never lived in the Holy Ci! ty, was able to impress on the Church leaders that fuel increases are like tithes paid by their congregations, and so between Church and State, they could absolutely 'zogosize' and 'rambosize' the Ghanaian tax payer. And the Church leaders bought it, 'hook, line and sinker', so much so that Dr Prempeh, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, is already extolling the virtues of high fuel prices and has promised, among other things, to initiate an era of Presbyterian discipline in the country to help achieve the 'Golden Age of Business'. Now my memories of Presbyterian discipline dished ou! t to me by my father, who was Chief Presbyter of the Koforidua Church, involved a panoply of swiftly applied slaps-backhand and forehand - canes and sometimes my mother's sandals, executed in passionate fashion on my face and body, in order to instil the virtues of 'displin'. So I dare say, Church and State are about to unleash a veritable reign of terror among an unsuspecting populace. Cedi, Kwasea no ti da so. And in the case of Wofa Jak ........! In all honesty though, we are not against the increase in fuel prices to market levels. In fact it is positively ridiculous for any country to subsidize petroleum prices if that country is not a Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Libya, with limitless petro-dollars, crude oil reserves and a small population. What we question is the low value of Ghanaian labor that is deliberately kept low by the State. If the value of labor in Ghana is raised - and we do not mean a mere raise in salaries - then Ghanaians will be able to pay market prices for fuel and utilities. Even at minimum wage or welfare, a worker in Canada, does not spend two days pay on a gallon of fuel. But most Ghanaian! s are going to. A gold miner in Canada easily makes $30,000 a year to mine gold that commands the same price as Ghanaian gold on the world market, and yet the Obuase gold miner is lucky if he makes $200 a month. Where does the rest go? Into the pockets of the 'foreign investor' through all the ingenious tax holidays and gratifying investment laws of the country. The rest is pocketed by the Ghanaian State to furnish the corridors of power and privilege. Similarly, cocoa farmers have, since colonial times, been paid a fraction of the world cocoa prices ostensibly to keep inflation down by limiting the money supply available to our farmers. The rest, of course, is kept by the State for a 'development' that is so hard for us to see with the naked eye. It is therefore in the interest of the State to keep the value of labor low, so that she can have access to funds to buy Mercedes Benz cars and new robes for the Speaker of Parliament whilst Ghanaian workers walk to work! Further a large proportion of the nation's revenue - 80% by some estimates - goes into salaries for labour that is not involved in the productive proce! ss. How then can we raise the value of labor when most productive activity in Ghana deals with low value-added products and services? Cedi, Kwasea no ti da so! And in Wofa Jak's case.............! But in all this, the most amazing character is the General-Secretary of the TUC, Mr. Kwesi Adu-Amankwa. The man whose main job is to champion the rights of workers seems to have acquiesced in this whole charade. It must be that closed- door meeting he had with Wofa Jak and his Merry Men. No wonder Kutu, banned 'two-man' from Ghana! He was very aware of the corrupting influence of secret rendezvous. Mr. Adu-Amankwa, erstwhile firebrand from the 'parched mud' of Legon, has turned into a true politician, the only qualification being that he is able to talk through the two sides of his mouth at the same time. Of course, a directorship on the board of VRA has helped to re-align his values. On the right side, he waxes furiously eloquent about the need for government to engage "in a dialogue with the people on an economic plan structured around the pillars of agriculture, industrialization, harnessing of science and technology and the mobilization of human resources for the exploitation of natural resources." Bold words, which he has often repeated for the past few years, but as to how this should be achieved, it seems it is a secret in the labor leader's muffled brains. Then on the left side of his mouth, he warns the government to "tread carefully in increasing its wage bills so as not to run into conflict with the conditions (of the IMF and World Bank), otherwise, they derail Ghana's likelihood of moving from decision point to completion point under HIPC." Poor Joe, as he used to be known, when he was growing up possibly affected by the intoxicating fumes of the two public toilets in Srodai, Koforidua, which I have mentioned once in my 'Rhapsodies". Or, most probably, he has been infected by the 'mother of all fumes', that putrid essence from the great beaches of Accra, which waft into his high office at the TUC headquarters. So Wofa Jak will have his way, and market prices for fuel and utilities will be clamped on Ghanaians, whilst our farmers and miners are denied market wages. But then some day when he is sitting in exile in Ivory Coast, he will see Ghanaian workers jubilating on the streets of Accra. This time they will not be singing about the cedi. They will be singing, Stamp eh stamp, Stamp, Kwas................!

Kwesi Yeboah
Kwesi Yeboah, © 2003

The author has 34 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KwesiYeboah

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