Tue, 27 Feb 2024 Feature Article

You are the system and the system is you!

You are the system and the system is you!

The frustration of being a Ghanaian is that each day, the same problems your great-grandparents faced stare at you. You read newspapers published decades ago and it is as though they were prophesying into today. Nothing has changed. The broken systems our forebears complained of are more broken now. And they still have not been fixed!

We all wish to see that day the existing systems here will work. The day the law will be above the politician will be declared a national holiday. The day our health system will be nothing short of dependable will be declared a world wonder. Indeed, I pray I live to see that day that our education system will not be a puppet in the hands of governments.

We marvel at how systems and institutions work in other parts of the world. When we watch TV, we see how efficient the welfare system of some countries is. When some of us travel abroad, we are amazed at how people like us have been able to build systems that keep almost everybody gainfully employed throughout the day. As human as we are, what others have been able to achieve is not beyond us.

Wherever a working system or institution was built, it was not built by celestial beings. People like us build systems, and it takes people like us to make these systems work. People are walking systems. Without them, the existing systems will have no life.

I have observed how many institutions right here in Ghana have intentionally built robust internal systems that are working for them and, especially, maximizing their productivity. I was amazed at how Ashesi University, for instance, had successfully built systems that the university was running on when I first visited. These are systems built by Ghanaians!

Systems can work in Ghana. If the same Ghanaians in Ashesi University, for instance, can be time-abiding, then state functions starting late is not a Ghanaian thing. If Ghanaians in such a university can write exams without proctors in the name of an honor code, then it is obvious cheating and being corrupt is foreign to us. These are toxic cultures we have gradually come to accept as normal.

A nation’s system will work only as much as its people want it to. The people are the system and the system is the people. What we want to work would work. What we don’t want to will not. If the man on the street is as dishonest as the man whose decisions influence him, no system will work.

Building a nation is a collective effort. If we individually live as we expect others to live, our nation’s systems will work. If the medical doctor is not as corrupt as the body that supervises him/her, our systems will work. If the one who cooks food (and the authority that regulates them) puts humanity above money, that will be the beginning of working systems.

As a society, our actions and inactions affect everybody in the long run. And that is why wherever systems work, humanity is prioritized. When one person disrupts the system, they disrupt everybody. A system of justice, for instance, that is unfair to somebody has been unfair to everybody because when the aggrieved takes revenge, the innocent will pay for it.

Each morning you wake up, ask yourself in all honesty where our nation would be if everyone were like you. Look into your mirror and be certain that the other side of the mirror will leave Ghana better than they came to meet it.

We do not need to be at the top to play a role in the rot that prevents our nation from getting to its prime. We are the rot we complain of if we demand sex or something in return to give people the opportunities they deserve. We are not any better than the politicians we curse if we sell substandard goods to our unsuspecting customers just to maximize our profits.

Oftentimes, we are the devil in the mirror. We demand money for what we are paid for. We are always sniffing around for a chance to steal, regardless of how little. If we are unfaithful with the little opportunity life has given us, how faithful are we going to be when the nation’s resources are entrusted to our care? We will only be a more corrupt version of those we complain about today.

We complain about corrupt politicians yet take advantage of others at the slightest opportunity. We are not honest with people who have employed us yet we assume it is only the politician who is the devil’s cousin. We mistreat state property and attend to our duties with no sense of urgency as civil servants but we somewhat have concluded that it is only when the politician changes that our nation will be on its way to development.

We are our politicians and our politicians are a reflection of us. They are living our fantasies. They did not fall from the skies. They do in their offices what we do in our offices. We steal little. They only steal a little more.

In the game of corruption where everyone is a player, there is no winner. In the vicious cycle of corruption, the winner is the loser. Corruption thrives like a food chain. The one who eats others is eaten by others. We cheat our customers. The politicians cheat us. Others cheat the politicians. Our customers cheat others. Everybody suffers the fate of corruption eventually.

We can complain all we can, but our nation will not get any better ─ not under any political party in this country. It is not a prophecy of doom. It is the reality we have to face because everybody wants change, but nobody wants to change. Nothing changes where nobody wants to change. If you ask anybody how Ghana could ever be a better place, they will point fingers at every other person except themselves. They forget that we all need to change for Ghana to change.

The Ghana we desire will be built by Ghanaians, not angels. If we dream of a nation where people will be rewarded according to merit (and not affiliation), it will only take Ghanaians to do such. A nation where systems work is a nation built by people who have experienced the untold consequences when systems don’t work.

We may all have dreams of relocating abroad someday. However, the uncomfortable truth is that we can never bleach away our roots. Our loved ones may still be here even when we have left. This is why ensuring the system works should not be your dream. It should be your responsibility.

The beautiful Ghana we desire will not be built in a day. Day by day, we must collectively eschew the mindset that is holding us back and forge ahead to development. We have complained enough. Now is the time to be in our closet the model Ghanaian we desire to see.

Kobina Ansah is a Ghanaian playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications ( ), an Accra-based writing firm. His new play, IN THE PANTS OF A WOMAN, is a musical themed on rape showing on Saturday, 20th April and Sunday, 21st April, 2024 at National Theatre. Inquiries - 0546098082.

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024