The Internet has introduced many things – some good, some bad; some very bad.
But I think the emergence of unknown bloggers may take the cake when it comes to bringing matters to the notice of the public.
Look at what appeared as a blogger’s note on mobile telephone screens the other day. It was a well-illustrated presentation of how our authorities have allowed the Black Star Gate at what used to be called the Black Star Square to get into such a state of disrepair that the top might crumble down and (if we are not lucky) deprive some of our citizens of life or limb.
The blogger did not spare the authorities the fruits of his anger. I would not wish to repeat even one of the insults he uttered against them. In effect, he accused them of s lack of patriotism – a lack of the patriotism that would enable them to appreciate why the Black Star Gate was constructed by our first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, and why those who followed him thought it worthwhile to maintain it in such a way as to enable it to fulfil its original purpose.
Let’s not beat about the bush: unusual sights help to bring tourists to a country. Mention Paris and everyone immediately thinks of the Eiffel Tower. Say Moscow and well-travelled people will talk to you vividly about the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral. Say London and the House of Commons and Westminster Abbey won’t be too far off the tongues of those who have been there.
What do we have to say for Ghana? Not much, I am afraid. Except the Black Star Square. I’d forgotten its charm and evocative character (what with its unusual “black star” that’s the only one of its type in a cosmo made up of trillions of stars) until a correspondent of the BBC asked me whether I could meet him there to be filmed talking about the Soul-To-Soul concert that took place there half a century or so ago. fifty years ago.
On getting there, my greatest worry was how not to step on some wobbly step or something and finding myself being flung into empty space trying to join the community of galaxies and planets that the James Webb telescope is discovering on a daily basis. I said my piece and returned safely home. And I didn’t think of the place again until – the unknown blogger took pains to show me in minute detail, what a risk I took in allowing a cameraman to position me where. (Hey, Mr BBC-man, where is the link to the pictures that you promised me?)
Our “maintenance culture” (if it exists at all) is nothing to write home about. It probably has something to do with the decapitation of the Public Works Department (PWD). Bedford independence and shortly afterwards, all public buildings and roads were in the care of one governmental body. But as governmental expenditure on roads etc got bigger, the appetite for “eating” some of the money given to the PWD also got bigger and eventually, it was dissolved and turned into the Ghana National Construction Corporation.
We haven’t looked back since then. GNCC’s province was eaten into bit by bit till today, it would be a very bold person who would be able to tell you, offhand, who is in charge of maintaining the Black Star Gate. (I am told, unofficially, that the Ministry of Tourism and the National Security Service have joint charge of it! Can you see the disaster that this is causing? If the National Security Service tells the Ministry of Tourism to erf off, (if the latter becomes too insistent on laying hands of part of the budget for maintenance of the `black Star Gate, what can the Ministry of Tourism do? Complain to the President and be accused of acting in a manner “prejudicial” to the interests of national security? That would be funny, won’t it?
I do realise that there are people in important positions in whose breasts the name “Ghana” doesn’t evoke much emotion. Unlike some of us, they cannot remember moments when Ghana played football so very well that invitations came to us from Russia, East Germany, or Yugoslavia, and that we invited Real Madrid here; and also nStanlkey Matthews. In those days, to hear the Ghana national anthem being played usually meant we had excelled in something or the other.
Today, what most people think of is first is their bank balance; their personal comforts. They won’t perform well at home, and yet when they go abroad and are made to suffer from insulting behaviour from foreigners, they feel hurt.
Sir or Madam Big-Shot Ghanaian, please learn that there is only one way to earn respect from others, and that is to first respect your own self.first. When foreigners have looked down upon you in your own country, how can they think twice before looking down on you in THEIR OWN COUNTRY? Answer that, if you can!