A Few Days In The life Of... There was evening; and there was morning, the first day!
And the fossil of the Ghanaian political establishment, Jurassic Joseph Henry found himself in a Ghanaian Church in Chicago ruminating obsequiously about Ghana’s B+ rating from the international financial community. Rejoice! Alleluia! Health to the economy! Which Ghanaian parent or student would not want a B+ average? The future political hall-of-famer says HIPC has allowed the government to pump US$150 million into that social ruin politely referred to as the Ghanaian schooling system. All Ghanaians have to do, says Jurassic Henry, is to ask for prayers because we are a people who believe in the Lord, and then more of this B+ manna will drop from the skies. The NPP inherited a weak economy, and a populace that was demoralised and disorganised, pontificates Old Henry in his wisdom, but he forgot to tell us if the economy had become stronger, or if the populace were now moralised and organised. But a B+ is a B+ and ye so mu twe (we hold on fast to that). Meanwhile that same week, back at home away from the surrealistic atmosphere of the Chicago celebratory scene, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) declared emphatically that "poverty in Ghana is a national disaster". And fearfully we begin to worry about the B+. And even as we do our fearing and worrying, the country's leading economic think-thank, the Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA) says that the country's economy is slowing down because of a 'ballooning budget deficit’ and the consequent failure of donors to disburse promised aid money. Our worrying turns into the scratching of our heads, because we cannot imagine the slow pace of an awuna patio slowing down even more. And still we cannot see the B+. But those smart ones amongst us know that whom the gods have chosen to humble they first set up with pomp and ballast. Don't we remember in the nineties when Ghana was called the success story of Africa by the World Bank and IMF only to be HIPC a ! few years later? That B+ just seems to loose its lustre as time goes on. Me thinks it is a set-up. Unperturbed, by all this Wofa Jak saw that it was all good. After a fitting respite from his foreign travels cocooned in a private Moroccan resort, he declared that he was not paid enough to be President of Ghana, and...and...if people don't take care, he will solve Ghana's agricultural problems in one blow by going to Kamasa and sourcing a foreign facility to import one- thousand tractors to come and plough in Ghana. And there was evening; and there was morning, a normal day of positive change! Once upon a time, the Ghanaian State was one giant tit with numerous nipples that the Ghanaian people sucked on. It was at this time - the Nkrumah era incidentally - that the state was armed with the colonial cocoa surplus and thus seemed to stand on its tottering feet. Today the Ghanaian State, her own tits sucked dry by the masses, has also become a tit-sucker sucking hard on the bountiful tits of international financial institutions and Ghanaian citizens abroad. An unholy trinity - god the foreign mother tits, god the Ghanaian state tits and tit-suckers and god the unholy masses of Ghanaian tit-suckers has replaced the Holy Trinity of eto, kple vi, kple gogokokue. And what manner of sucking? Ministers, Parliamentarians, party functionaries, district secretaries, heads of government agencies, chiefs and priests, Ghanaians are hounding down the dollar in every nook and cranny of the developed world. Only recently a bunch of Ghanaian ogbontua f! rom the Ghana Investment Promotion Council or some such organisation was in Chicago to exchange speeches and dance highlife with Ghanaians in the Diaspora in one giant suck-fest. A Ghanaian district secretary has been abroad to receive a computer or so for his village; a Deputy Minister of state spends his time receiving the donation of a single ambulance to the country by some obscure foreign NGO; Ghanaian policemen have asked Diaspora associations and foreign police organisations for materials as basic as handcuffs and batons and raincoats, and you wonder about Ghana being an exporter of timber. Sometimes it looks like half the cabinet is busy abroad working hard on behalf of Ghana. But again Wofa Jak saw that it was all good. And he prophesied that Denmark would provide 89 million dollars for good governance (whose?) and assistance in improving the living standards of the people. Then he saw a vision of the Chinese helping with a portion of the Accra-Kumasi road, and everybody else but Ghanaians helping with some portion of this wreckage called Ghana. Finally he assured the people of Ghana that when the economy improves there would be tremendous poverty reduction.
And there was evening; and there was morning, a ripping day of poverty reduction!
Then absurdity substituted itself for politics and CEPA in the same breadth that it mentioned a slowing economy and budget restraints, blames the problem on the generous pay-rise to the public sector workers. What generous pay rises, we try to say from our parched throats. At this time our stomachs are churning! 'Generous’, ‘B+’, ‘poverty’, ‘national disaster’, all in the same breadth, the atom of mutual exclusivity has been split by the Ghanaian state in this re-enactment of the primordial battle of fantasy versus reality.
For even as the officers of the Metropolitan Police Force Association in London are gathering batons that have danced on many a white head as donations to our police forces in Ghana, Junior Jesus has surreptitiously emerged on the national stage. Disguised this time as an irate has-been head of state who has suffered the indignity of not using the VIP lounge at Heathrow Airport, Flight Lieutenant JJ Rawlings, the Man of the People who shared yoke garri at the roadside with workers, is complaining now about using the normal check-out line of mere mortals. And Junior is feeling so vilified by all this that he asks incredulously, "How can a government which claims to uphold democracy act so dictatorially?" Poor, Poor Junior, they clip his wings a little, they show him colour a little, and he forgets he is Ghana's longest serving dictator himself. It must be the momentum of the kafo didi march where he celebrated the anniversary of his meteoric from debtor to co! nspicuous consumer.
And behold the opposition and government members alike agreed that Ghana couldn’t break our reliance on donor funding even though the long-term consequences of this reliance are not in the best interests of the country. Collectively they have thrown in the towel and allowed the wreckage to sink farther, But when Ghana regained the number two position in world production of cocoa beans, they all heaved a sigh of relief. The status quo was returning; this was familiar territory; cocoa beans for export.
Perched up in high walls of the slave castle, Wofa Jak looked at the wreckage, smiled at the developments and saw that they were very good. He pointed out that his government was committed to the improvements of the lives of the people and his government would not stand aloof for any individual or group of people to undermine the security of the nation. He asked the workers to sacrifice all that was left of the numerous sacrifices that they had made over the years so that there was nothing left to sacrifice. He promised cocoa farmers they will now be given houses to replace the shacks many of them live in, and to the Upper West Region he promised he will reduce their poverty from eighty-four percent to seventy-percent – whatever that means!
And there was evening; and there was morning, a day of righteous absurdities!
Then the Ministry of Health announced that 84,000 Ghanaians die from diarrhoea every year, a quarter of them being children under five years old.
And Wofa Jak wept!
And there was another evening and another morning, a mournful day of gnashing teeth!
Then low and behold today, I access my e-mail and chance upon some NPP think-tank in North America seriously debating the era of 'positive change' and the impending NPP elections victory in 2004. Finally, I too saw that it was very good, whereupon the scales fell from my eyes and I was confronted with the truth. It was revealed to me like it was to the English writer Defoe that our governments and elites are an army of Lilliputians armed with imitation titles and institutions with pompous sounding names, and believing that mere possession of these titles and institutions is good enough substitute for their actual operations in the developed world. This logic makes it possible for one our Lilliputians Mr. Mahama, ex Minister of Communication to condemn the government’s temporary withdrawal of VIP treatment for Mr Rawlings abroad. He invokes the US as an example of a democracy that will not treat ex-Presidents with disrespect even if the ex-president criticises current gove! rnment policy. But the last time we checked, US did not have an ex-president who broke in and misruled for almost 20 years!
Wofa Jak, meanwhile, had had his fill of this cosmic game of jaskele that was being played in front of his eyes anytime he stopped to vacation in Ghana in between his foreign assignments. He sighed deeply and said he wished, oh did he wish, that the government could pay higher wages to doctors and nurses to prevent the brain drain. Unfortunately, since Santa Claus does not grant all wishes he was powerless to stem the brain drain, but suffice it to say he has concluded an agreement with a British group to rebuild and modernise the Police Hospital into a world-class one. The children and families of service personnel would have a modern hospital even if they had no doctors and nurses.
It was a troubling evening followed by an equally troubling morning. Tomorrow never comes! Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.