We who have been complaining for years about the neo-colonialist posture of some African states should now turn the searchlight on ourselves to find how truly independent we are. We would find the revelation startling.
The arrogance of some of our "economic partners" is unbelievable. The acquiescence of our own officialdom and leadership along the line is pathetically subservient.
No nation is completely independent. In the global village even the most powerful nation ignores reaction to its policy initiatives to its discomfiture and disadvantage.
A country like Ghana which relies heavily on outside assistance for its economic and social well-being cannot be as independent as would be desired. But it abandons the pursuit of independence at its peril.
Phrases like "development partners" which soften our mendicant status should not deceive us into the belief that we are equal partners.
If we value our independence and self-respect we would exploit the present situation to build up the economy and social structure as quickly as possible so as to regain our birthright of freedom of choice which would enable the country to design its own future and promote that true independence which defines national identity, self-confidence and progress.
If because of our present predicament we yield so readily to political, economic and cultural pressures we shall slide into a permanent neo-colonialist state. Our heritage and established practices should not be brushed aside to please donor envoys. Two examples will illustrate a slide into neo-colonialism which is pathetic.
At independence we had a planning regime for Accra, and natives and foreigners respected it.
We had residential and industrial areas or plans for same. Offices were generally to be in designated areas. Foreign missions, however powerful, conformed to the plan of Accra.
Thus the British built the residence of the High Commissioner at Cantonments, a residential area, while the offices were established in town until a permanent place was built in accordance with our rules.
In fact, the British have a house with a big plot near the Du Bois Centre where offices could have been built. This was not done presumably because our rules were respected.
Similarly, the French have the residence of the ambassador in Cantonments while the office was built in town near the Flagstaff House. It should therefore be a shock to any Ghanaian with a modicum of national fervour, self-respect and a sense of history to find a large chunk of colonial Cantonments destroyed to accommodate an embassy complex.
Roads have been built upon and the town plan jettisoned to accommodate a distasteful monster of a structure for a foreign mission.
Ghanaian envoys who are harassed when they park their cars in front of their mission would not be amused to see how we have succumbed to foreign pressures and surrendered our national pride and identity.
They and thinking Ghanaians will ask whether we have planning laws and who set the plans aside and gave permission for the eyesore to be erected at Cantonments. Very soon our own authorities will establish no go areas around the embassy. Some independence!
The second example is the arrogant disregard of our procedures by some foreign missions. The chief of Abirem wrote to the Director of the Minerals Commission to recommend that a prospecting licence be given to a joint Ghanaian and foreign company.
Nana Akwasi Amoh Kyerewie I, the Abiremhene, stated that the elders, assembly members, unit committee and the entire Abireman had agreed on the exercise of appropriate social responsibility and the employment of the youth with the favoured company.
Now another company which got fed up with the "primitive procedures" of Abiremman never returned to the Chief after the first visit. When this company heard that the Abireman preferred another organisation they appealed to their ambassador in Ghana.
The story is that the ambassador charged to the castle and demanded the payment of fief. The lands Commission was, according to the story, appropriately instructed. Is this the way to ensure peace in the mining concession area?
We may blame our benefactors for the contemptuous disregard of our procedures, rules and regulations.
But the primary responsibility for others to respect us rests upon us. We must learn to believe in ourselves.
We must be ready to rely on ourselves. We must suffer a little for future prosperity. Some of the assistance we receive impede development. We must rid ourselves of the neo-colonialist mentality and stop doing the bidding of donors for fear of losing largesse.
We must regain our sovereignty. It is the first step in accelerated development and prosperity. Perhaps as the ambassador marched to the castle he recalled Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost and wondered how a Ghanaian dared to assert his independence, even the Abiremhene:
This wimpled, whining, purblind wayward boy,
This senior-junior, giant-dwarf Dan Cupid,
Regent of love rhymes, Lord of folded arms
The anointed sovereign of sighs and groans
Liege of all loiterers and malcontents.
Let this be the epitaph of the old Ghana. Let us in this jubilee year assert our independence and sovereignty and resolve to build a prosperous Ghana by the sweat of our brows.
Story By K. B. Asante
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