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07.03.2004 Feature Article

The Role Of The Individual In The "New" Ghana

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CRITICAL SELF EXAMINATION ; SELF DISCIPLINE Can the President alone deal with the numerous economic problems of Ghana ? Definitely he cannot. Can tough laws passed by parliament turn around the deplorable corrupt practices, which obviously have contributed significantly to the economic problems of Ghana ? Definitely no.

Can harsh sentences given by courts help stop the despicable corrupt behaviour of people in responsible positions ? Only to a very limited extent.

The EXECUTIVE BRANCH (The President and the ministers), THE JUDICIARY BRANCH (The courts and Law enforcement agencies ) and THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH ( Parliament ) cannot control ALL the actions of the most important factor in governing a country successfully. I honestly believe that this important factor is the "INDIVIDUAL GHANAIAN ".

The attitude of the individual Ghanaian is the key to CERTAIN success or CERTAIN failure in developing Ghana. If every Ghanaian can chant "LET THERE BE NO CORRUPTION IN GHANA AND LET IT BEGIN WITH ME" , then the government will have a chance to turn around the horrible state of the economy. Let us all pray and hope that at least 60%of Ghanaians will be able to chant the line above, within the next few months.

I strongly and respectfully submit that unless YOU and I refrain from indulging in "KALABULE" and "GYINABU" practices, the president and Parliament CANNOT turn around the sad state of affairs in our beloved country GHANA.Unless there is a drastic change in the attitude of citizens, the obvious poverty, which seems to be the lot of the ordinary Ghanaian will become a permanent feature in the Ghanaian community. ( NOTE: The definitions of Kalabule and Gyinabu, according to the UNOFFICIAL GHANA DICTIONARY, are provided at the end of this article. ) There are pockets of extremely well to do citizens ( some acquired their wealth through hard work and genuine means; a significant number obtained their possessions through dubious "KALABULEIC" and "GYINABUIC" activities. The general standard of living of the average Ghanaian is far from acceptable. Many respectable GHANAIANS have been reduced to the status of beggars due to the corrupt practices of non - productive irresponsible persons in the society. Unfortunately many of these irresponsible citizens are in positions of trust. Many are very well educated. Some have lived in developed countries and know very well what it takes to build a strong economy for the country. However they are able " to shut down their conscience " and indulge in selfish practices and make decisions, which benefit no one but themselves. How they are able to enjoy living in their gorgeous mansions, and drive out of their gated and exclusive communities in luxurious vehicles only to see fellow Ghanaians living in abject squalor just a few hundred yards down the road, boggles my mind.

People who are genuinely concerned and express DISDAIN are often accused of being jealous. The Ghanaian term used to describe this type of so-called jealousy is "SKIN PAIN". Until we stop to admire ill-gotten wealth and stop praising and adoring people with obviously "KALABULEIC WEALTH" ,our nation will never prosper. Most Ghanaians will forever remain poor. This observation does not apply only to Ghana but also to many African Countries.

Let us stop pointing accusatory fingers at other people. You will definitely know the person responsible for our problems as soon as you look in a mirror. You are direcltly or indirectly part of the problem.

Are you prepared to bribe a Passport Official in order to obtain a passport ? A significant number of Ghanaians will reply in the affirmative if they are honest. The excuse given is that everybody is doing it. DOES THE END JUSTIFY THE MEANS? Are passport issuing officers prepared to do their job as expected without creating conditions, which obviously suggest that it is impossible to obtain a Ghana Passport unless bribes, financial or other favours are sprinkled along the hierarchy ?

Unless a few individual Ghanaians in responsible positions in the Passport Office stand up and issue genuine passports to applicants, who provide all the necessary information and meet all the legal criteria set up, the STUPID practice of giving bribes will continue forever. It is obvious that people, who really need and deserve passports for legitimate purposes, find it more difficult to get them than those, who intend to travel abroad to indulge in questionable businesses that always damage the reputation of Ghana overseas.

It is sad to note that many Ghanaians admire ill-gotten wealth. "THIEVES" who ostentatiously display affluence are admired and praised. It is sad to point out that honest workers, who cannot indulge in false affluence become the laughing stalk of the society. Their own relatives and so-called friends tease them for not participating in the questionable practices that produce instant wealth to corrupt individuals.

I intend to use a few practical examples involving QUESTIONS and probable ANSWERS to illustrate how individuals in our society make selfish and stupid choices and as a result create problems which can never be resolved by external actions namely legislation and punishment.

Internal self-discipline based on principles of social justice AND COMMON SENSE will enable individuals perform their duties efficiently. The rewards may NOT be immediate but in the long run the whole society is bound to benefit. Ghanaians will then choose to stay in their own country and live with dignity instead of leaving to make a so-called " a decent living "in foreign countries.

I have intentionally put "decent living" in inverted commas because those of us abroad know very well that many Ghanaians abroad are suffering physically, mentally, emotionally and Spiritually. It is worth noting that many of those, who are really suffering overseas go back home and create the FALSE impression that life out here is full of ROSES. I strongly believe that too many of us especially people in responsible positions both at home and abroad are ROTTEN TO THE CORE. These include Custom Officials,Diplomats, Headmasters, Teachers, Farmers, Bank Managers, Accountants, Auditors, Security personnel, Electricians,Lawyers, Professors, Doctors, Pharmacists, Nurses, Plumbers, so-called Pastors of the numerous mushroom churches and real Clergy of the major religions etc. This short list demonstrates that VERY FEW GHANAIANS can be exempted. Officials who try to work honestly and avoid corrupt practices are looked down upon and often ridiculed by close family members and friends. They are told in various ways " Everybody is doing it. Why don't you join them? Don't you realize that you are hurting your immediate family and other members of the extended family by NOT using your position to ENRICH family members? POSITION : SCHOOL TEACHER : 1. Are you prepared to dedicate yourself fully to your profession ? This includes getting involved in professional development activities so that you are always up to date in any subjects you are teaching at the appropriate level.

2. Do you really have the desire to stimulate and guide students to love to learn and help them perform to the best of their ability ?

3. Do you realize that your personal example may influence the physical, emotional, intellectual and possibly the spiritual development of some of the students with whom you come into contact ?

If you can answer affirmatively to the questions above then you are playing your part to create the type of GHANA most of us would enjoy to live in. You are part of the solution and not part of the problem. If your answers to the above questions are wishy-washy then you are probably part of the problem. It may be wise to find another profession. POSITION: HEADMASTER ( PRINCIPAL ). 1. Are you prepared to admit students to your school based mainly on their own merit as demonstrated in the entrance examinations ?

2. Do you intend to award available bursaries and scholarships to deserving students instead of the children of influential people in the community even when these children do NOT perform adequately ?

Headmasters are in a powerful position to set the tone for the proper education of our children. Any activity which is detrimental to the progress of the students should be avoided. The responsibility of the principal increases astronomically when the institution is a boarding one. It may be necessary for the authorities to remunerate headmasters adequately to discourage them from indulging in "KALEBULEIC" activities. Students must never be exposed to headmasters and teachers of questionable behaviour. POSITION: BANK MANAGER. 1. Do you intend to grant loans to genuine small business entrepreneurs, who sign legitimate contracts with a good and clear repayment plan and a reasonable chance that the loan will be paid back on time ?

2. Are you prepared to reject tempting offers of PAYBACK ( KICKBACKS) from businessmen who ask for loans with no intention whatsoever of paying back ?

3. Are you prepared to reject tempting plans involving fellow bank workers such as the accountants and security officers to loot the Vault and cover up using accounting techniques, which auditors may find difficult to detect ?

If you answer honestly in the affirmative, then you are the type of Bank Manager that Ghana can be proud of. You are the type of bank manager that Ghana can rely on to help develop a healthy economic atmosphere. POSITION: BUSINESS MAN ( IMPORTER ). 1. Are you prepared to pay the requisite charges at the port of delivery without bribing the custom officials to avoid payment to the legitimate port authorities ?

2. Do you realize that if the port authorities do not collect the custom duties, they have no funds to maintain the port adequately ?

3. Does it ever occur to you that if the ports are not well maintained, your next shipment cannot be delivered on time ?

If you are involved in bribing custom officials then you are one of those responsible for the economic problems of Ghana. Use genuine business practices to allow Ghana to develop for the benefit of the ordinary citizen. Unless the ordinary citizen is well to do and can financially support your business, it is NOT likely that you will become a successful businessman ( or better still business-person since many women are also involved in these "KALABULE IC" activities ). If our ports are to run efficiently, custom charges must be paid to the appropriate authority.

What you do for a living is not as important as how you perform your job. Janitors, messengers, office clerks, who perform their duties efficiently and honestly are to be respected and rewarded more than irresponsible managers, who just use their position to enrich themselves.

The question of minimum wages should be considered seriously. Workers at the lowest level of the hierachy have some basic needs. These needs MUST be met. As Mahatma Ghandi stated "Earth provides enough for everyone's NEED but not enough for everyone's GREED ".

Government officials must be aware of the adage " A Civilised Society is judged by the way it treats its disadvantaged, poor and powerless INDIVIDUALS."

Until such time that the INDIVIDUAL Ghanaian determines to become corruption-proof and insists on his/her right to be served faithfully by civil servants without harassment or bribery, our beloved Ghana will not progress significantly. Only a few citizens will "enjoy" the fruits and riches of the country. Demanding your rights without bribery may cause you some inconvenience and delay in obtaining the services you are entitled to. However this is the only way to force our civil servants to perform their duties efficiently. Do not hesitate to COMPLAIN to supervisors and if possible appeal to the public media. Let there be no corruption and let it begin with ME.

Long Live Ghana DEFINITIONS FROM GHANA DICTIONARY ( UNOFFICIAL ) Gyinabu: Daytime roberry from a trusted fellow Kalabule : Unethical Business Practice. This word probably drew its roots from the Hausa sentence, 'Kari ka bunde', meaning: don't open?? This could well have been the commercial jargon as well as the understanding between the 'Border Guards' and traders in general at our check points. The trader arrives with his or her well sealed goods. The guard is officially obliged to search the goods for contrabands. The trader knows he or she is carrying contrabands. The trader tells the guard: DON'T OPEN. kari ka bunde. Understanding prevails, and the trader rewards the mutual understanding in cash or kind. Both parties are satisfied, but the government loses. Kari ka bunde gradually gains wide currency, but is eventually corrupted into 'KALABULE'. Leo R. Sam Edmonton, Alberta Canada. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Leo R. Sam
Leo R. Sam, © 2004

The author has 4 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: LeoRSam

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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