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21.04.2004 Feature Article

Letter From The President: In search of Greener Pastures

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Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, ankobea folks and been-to hustlers, today, I am glad to inform you that I am in love. I am in love with the Internet. It is such a fascinating invention that whenever I log on to my favourite websites, I say 'thank you' to those whose brain cells invented the world wide web and pray to God to grant them free, unlimited stay in one of His five-star heavenly hotels.

It was never my intention to tell you about my fascination with the internet because, knowing how fussy you people are, I feared that I would be criticized for wasting my time surfing websites when I should be cracking my brain to solve your problems. Well, your problems are too many and I like to spend very little time thinking about them. Otherwise, I will grow old earlier than expected and, who knows, I might even die for a headache induced by those problems. I spend just about 30 minutes in a day thinking about your problems and how best they can be resolved. Anytime, I try to go beyond 30 minutes my brain cells heat up so much so that they move in very random directions – giving me a headache and rendering me incapable of thinking straight. So after thinking about your problems for just about 30 minutes in a day, I spend the rest of the day receiving various (useless) delegations in the Castle, shuttling at very high speeds between the Castle and my Airport residence, or delivering boring speeches at various events and surfing the internet. Being on the information superhighway is one of my favorite pastimes. Even though I am not that proficient in the use of a computer – even controlling the mouse is a difficult activity for me – I feel very much at home when surfing the net, often with the support of my trusted personal assistant, DK.

Just a few days ago, I read on the net about some man, apparently an opinion leader with inconsequential opinions, complaining about the high rate at which the youth of Sikaman are trooping to the various diplomatic missions in search of visas to enable them travel outside the country. I asked myself, “What's this man's problem”? I strongly suspect that he's one of those ankobea people who do not want to go anywhere but stay in their villages and remain 'opinion leaders' until they die. They love to hate people who boldly take the risk of traveling outside to seek greener pastures abroad. They lament when they see people succeeding. They feel useless (and so it should be) when people decide to take their destinies into their own hands and go out there to explore the world, seek better opportunities and lead much more meaningful lives.

I have, on so many occasions, seen hundreds of Sikaman citizens queuing at the diplomatic missions for visas. Whenever I've seen a queue like that I have prayed to God to make it possible for as many of them as possible to get the opportunity to travel to Europe and America, where the pastures are evergreen. If one Ghanaian gets an opportunity to leave this country to seek greener pastures abroad, it means one less mouth to feed. It also means increased opportunities for tens of others. Here in our country the pastures have totally been dried. Work is hard to come by even for university graduates because quite a number of them, with diminished educational opportunities (or dried up educational pastures) are often compelled to study 'dondology' and other subjects which do not guarantee any employment. Let me give you an example of what I describe as diminished educational opportunities. There are so many intelligent people in this country who want to study law after secondary school. But the premier university in the country decided that law should only be a postgraduate course of study. Come to think of it, the least regarded universities in the UK and the US provide excellent first degree tuition in law, recognized by the legal profession in those countries. Some of these universities even offer this course by distance learning. So why won't a person desperate to read law leave to study abroad. The fees might be expensive. But who cares. He can sweep and clean the whiteman's loo to pay his fees.

In this country, our economic pastures have also been totally dried up – thanks to the misadventures of the likes of Jerry Boom. As a result of our dried up economic pastures it pays more to be a sweeper in London than an accountant in Sikaman. The sweepers in London can afford to go on vacations in Spain and Venezuela. Most of our accountants cannot even afford a leisure trip to the Bole Game Reserve unless they engage in some inventive accounting.

I therefore want all those who are concerned about the number of our people traveling abroad to shut up. And this is not a request. The people who travel abroad are exposed to new cultures, new perspectives and new ideas. Most of our citizens who have traveled to Europe and America to seek greener pastures see the world differently, think differently and work differently. Sometimes they come down and we reap the benefits of the sojourns. Others choose not to return but it's their choice and I won't condemn them. But I commend those who (like my excellent self) choose to come back home and help to make a difference. I might not personally have made a lot of difference but I think someone like Dr. Frempong Boateng (I admire that man so much) have made a lot of difference. Do you think Dr. Frempong Boateng would have gotten the expertise he now has and the determination to brave through the odds to set up the Cardio Centre if he had not traveled abroad? Just look around at our local entrepreneurs. How many of them can boldly thump their chests and say that they achieved all they have by sweating under the sweltering Sikaman heat? Very few, if any at all, made it without doing some menial job in the West. I don't think that even the Osagyefo would have been as fiery and determined as he was if he had not spent sometime in the land of the white man. Do you think, Kofi Annan would have been the UN Secretary General if he had holed himself up in one of our civil service buildings? No way!

I therefore get very depressed and angry whenever I hear people expressing concern or alarm at the fact that so many Sikaman citizens are desperate to travel abroad. Why wouldn't they travel when the pastures are so dry here? Why will they not queue in the scorching sun for visas when the people who have been elected to restore the green pastures appear to be enjoying themselves, traveling all around the world and are reluctant to concede that they do not have any radical ideas which will be used to water the pastures and turn them green again? So, I say to all those who want to go out there in search of greener pastures – GO! Don't use fake documents and visa contractors. Be genuine but don't let anyone or anything stop you. In fact, if a slave ship comes to either the Tema or Takoradi harbour, I will personally lead the campaign to get as many Sikaman citizens as possible on the vessel. For I believe that a well-fed slave in Europe or America is better off than a hungry-free man in pasture-less Sikaman, where a man's best efforts often go unrecognized, unrewarded and thwarted.

Excellently yours,

J. A. Fukuor

[email protected]

J. A. Fukuor
J. A. Fukuor, © 2004

The author has 204 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: JAFukuor

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