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03.04.2004 Feature Article

A final Independence

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Eyo Osagyefo, Ghanaians all over the world celebrated our 47th birthday this past March 6th. There were the Independence Day parade in Accra, celebrations across the country and Ghanaian associations in the Diaspora also had celebrations. Others partied the night away. But this is what is interesting. Some Ghanaians saw it as a normal day. Some even forgot that March 6th was what it stood for in our calendars. And sadly, Osagyefo, some flat out refused to celebrate our Independence day. I know you wouldn't believe that, but that's the sad situation these days, my friend.

I listened to the speech you gave on that memorable March night. “And now Ghana, your beloved country, is free forever”. I guess that meant independence. I beg to differ. We are not 'independent'. We have become more dependent on other nations and outsiders more than we were since 1957. We cannot depend on ourselves.

Ghanaians have become less conscious of Ghana. Our native languages have been marginalized to the background, most of us cannot read and write in it and as time passes by, we lose our grip on our lingua franca. I should be writing this letter to you in Twi or Fante, but most of the people who come to this website, expect to read in English. It's not their fault. We need to communicate with others, and unfortunately we cannot force them to learn our languages. However, we can force ourselves to learn our own. It's about time we promoted our own languages online and in the print media.

It has come to the point where we respect foreigners more than we respect ourselves. Ghanaian textiles companies have been working their fingers to the bone to promote authentic and local attires. Our youth have not given them an ear, and even if they did, the messages came through one ear and left through the other. “Maaso mehye bi”. So, we have been left with Abuskeleke Alelekenkeles on our streets, school campuses and communities. I believe our legislature has made an effort to wear Ghanaian attires to parliament at least once a week, but the message is not necessarily reaching our people. Well, because we believe Broni Woawu is better than what we can make ourselves - the impudence of a dying (dead) cockroach.

Our culture has suffered this inferiority complex as well. Granted, there are many customs and traditions that are inhibiting our progress, but we have to hold on to our identities and cultures. It's interesting how hamburgers, Chinese food, pizzas, etc have become luxuries in Ghana. I guess it is the idea of trying something different, because I can say that, Ghanaians abroad will find waakye and fufu as luxuries. Why can't we process our delicacies and make them appealing? In this HIPC day and age, people struggle to get hard earned cedis only to go and burn the money at Papaye so that they can enjoy pizza! Oh yeah, Osagyefo, you heard me right!

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, because none but us can free our minds. I find it hard to understand how the Ghanaian would work well and be disciplined under the authority of a foreigner but not under his own fellow citizen. It is not uncommon to hear that foreign employers in Ghana have abused their Ghanaian employees. Discipline is not something synonymous with a group of people and it cannot be exercised only for a group of people as well. Foreigners are treated well at restaurants and our own folk are not. Osagyefo, you would think, as some Ghanaians don't get some measure of respect abroad, they could at least receive it in their countries. The greatest commandment also says, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

What does it mean to be conscious? Be aware of what your environment is like. Our environment is Ghana, and it encompasses the land, and most importantly, people. We need selflessness in our country. No one wants to take initiatives. Rich men in Accra thrive with bad roads in front of their houses because they would not invest their monies to make situations better for everyone. Yeah, and they ride their Mercedes Benz and BMWs on these roads as well. To be conscious means to be patriotic, and to be patriotic means having a burning desire and zeal to see Ghana become a better Ghana. Ghana is a nation of 20 million people and as everyone has to be free for one person to be free, everyone has to be enjoying a good standard of living for Ghana to be what we want it to be.

We all joke about the HIPC situation in Ghana. What does HIPC stand for? There's a main argument there – Debt. We have depended on the Bretton Woods Institituions and developed countries for our well-being and we are indebted to them. Our music, dressing and culture has began to follow suit. While we enjoyed the temporary pleasures they gave us, we haven't maximized our production and economic potential and we find ourselves lacking and we are still in debt. We have to learn to create capital ourselves, distribute the wealth in the nation and make good use of our human resources. We can't totally be rid of these loans and grants we continue to receive, but we can't sit cross-legged and expect to get cash inflows from elsewhere to move on. We do move on, but we sure aren't getting anywhere.

Osagyefo, do you believe the number of innovations and inventions that Ghanaians have come up with over the past decade? We haven't heard of them because they haven't enjoyed any publicity. We continue to import things from foreign lands and well, we can hardly pay for them. Even if these innovations are publicized, the same Made-in-Ghana-goods-ain't-good excuse is given. It's about time we opened our eyes to these things. Organistions like CSIR should be encouraged as well and we should tune our educational institutions to be more entrepreneurial and inventive and give them support.

Many people called the NPP victory in the 2000 election a second independence. What have we found out? It was simply a change of power. Traveller John and his friends are ruling the nation and commissioning projects but the positive change hasn't come and doesn't seem to be coming soon. We need a third and final independence where we will learn to believe in ourselves, depend on ourselves and inject the new life of discipline and selflessness in our identities. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see”. Osagyefo, I am doing my best to be that change. What about the rest of you?

There is a comfort level for Ghanaians which is not comfortable for our development. This is how our fathers did it, so that is how we shall do it. How would you know change is not good if you don't change? This kind of change is not dependence. It's the betterment of our nation and citizenry. It's the belief put in ourselves, the potential to create change and make things right.

Some Ghanaians have refused to celebrate their independence for reasons best known to them. Some do that because they think we don't give it the recognition it deserves. Silence, is not golden, it means consent. We need to speak and advocate for change where necessary. Hope is one of the better things in life, and a good thing never dies. We can't give up on Ghana now. We need to fight for this 'final' independence.

I rest my case, Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Maximus Ojah
Maximus Ojah, © 2004

The author has 11 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: MaximusOjah

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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