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30.07.2009 Feature Article

The proverbial Ghanaian indeed

The proverbial Ghanaian indeed
30.07.2009 LISTEN

“President Obama when Ghanaians heard that you were coming they all prayed for you and GOD has heard our prayers and now you have arrived”( paraphrase) … that was our president Prof. John Evans Atta Mills bidding the United States President Barack Hussein Obama farewell after his much anticipated and highlighted visit to our country ( which surprisingly was less than 24hrs). It is so clear that our leaders behaved as if they were inferior to the Americans, when the latter came to OUR country it was as if we were rather in the United States and President Atta-Mills was just visiting, to such an extent that some ministers and government officials were quick to draw out their camera phone just to take a picture of Obama , huh a minister rushing to take a picture as if they were university students who are taking pictures of their favourite RnB star very sad indeed. Even to the extent that our Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) would salute a foreign president upon his arrival in our own country whilst the president of Ghana himself stood around him unacknowledged. It really enforced my belief and resolve that the so-called Ghanaian hospitality is a sham and there is no scintilla or truth in that proposition but rather we usually offer help and support to foreigner because of inferiority complex.

I have come to realize that Ghanaians are very timid and feels so inferior to foreigners especially those from America and Europe. It may probably stem from colonialism and neo-colonialism but through my experiences and observation, I have realized that Ghanaians feel so inferior and timid around foreigners that they are usually at the beck and call of these expatriates, a situation which is confused for hospitality. This I believe is so because Ghanaians in general can really treat their fellow Ghanaians in such a disgusting manner but will go ahead and treat a foreigner so graciously. When a Ghanaian sees an "oburoni" most of us are so willing to help such a person out not because we are so generally kind to fellow human beings but because we feel that such a person is above our status –wise and therefore we are obliged to help him out. Let's even take a look at our governmental, medical and educational institutions, usually when we have white people visiting, the people there are usually so willing to help them out and to stop virtually what they are doing just to attend to them because they are coming from across the ocean. This is a situation I find so disturbing in that we are so easily inclined to treat our fellow Ghanaians with contempt and disrespect. Go to our educational institutions and you will realize that it is very rare to find teachers and professors interacting with their students outside classes ours, as if their status will be diminished if such a thing happened but, however, let a bunch of foreign students who may even be peers of their own students arrive and then these “great men” will leave all their important work and follow these students around as if they were their fellow professors. Not forgetting we virtually closed the La General Hospital because Obama was in town. Also leaving motorist unable to commute from one part of Accra to another because Ghanaians are not as important as a foreign president just passing through, we are just thankful that no person lost his/her life because of this.

Please do not get me wrong I am not against Ghanaians being kind and hospitable to visitors or foreigners however it is better if we treat them with such kindness not because we fell inferior to them but because we are generally kind to other people. Again , it is better we treat our fellow citizens with love and respect and rather extend these gestures to foreigners rather than treat our own country men as if they are inferior and treat foreigners as superior people.

I honestly think that one of the main problems which affect our country is hypocrisy and also deceit. I am usually so surprised where the citizenry find the impetus to always lambast politicians and people in authority especially on radio for corruption and other vices. The Good Book (Bible) advises us to remove the log from our eyes before we attempt to remove the speck from our brother's eyes. A lot of Ghanaians especially those in commercial enterprises are always ready to dupe their brothers without batting an eyelid. I usually find it so hard to buy from people who do not display their prices, because such a person will usually inflate the price of an item over three times and expect you to bargain to get it reduced, they are always on the look out to make extraordinary profit from you the unsuspecting customer. I had such a strange encounter in the Kumasi central market the other day when I had gone to town with my friend to purchase a similar type of belt he had purchased just the previous day, when we got there the seller told us that the price was 15 cedis whiles my friend had bought it the previous day for 5 cedis , after he had brought it to his notice that he bought a similar one from him just a previous day for a 5 cedis , the seller asked us to buy it for 5 cedis. This is a daily occurrence all around Ghana where sellers and retailers are sometimes so quick to cheat and defraud buyers. Yet these same people are always so eager to condemn politicians and people in authority for the woes of Ghana. How many of Ghanaians in the informal sector of the economy dutifully file their tax returns? How many Ghanaians are willing to follow the laws that our lawmakers have made to regulate the country? How many Ghanaians can tell me that they are always fair and just in their dealings? Yet we are always quick to condemn politicians, police personnel, judges, ministers etc for corruption. Remove the log from your eyes first ……. Oh ye hypocrites.

Another typical characteristic of Ghanaians is that we are so quick to find fault with our neighbours children, acquaintances on a subject, which we may probably turn a blind eye on if we find it on a rich person or star. Confused? I will come clearer. Have you not realized how we are able to sing along tunes on the television set with the artiste dressed like a rap star with the males in all kinds of earrings and ridiculous clothes with semi- naked girls dancing sensuously around them but find no problem or mistake about it. However, when we see our neigbour's son in a similar dress –code and living a similar lifestyle we are so quick to whisper to each other how bad his parent has brought him up, forgetting that the previous day we saw an hiplife artiste on T.V dressed in a worse fashion and portraying a worse lifestyle but we found no problem whatsoever with it. Have you ever heard any well–meaning Ghanaian complain about our football stars and music stars (the males) who spot huge earrings and other dress-code so foreign and obscene to our culture? I think rarely does this happen but we always complain about the kids in our neighbourhood who dress likewise. I am not saying that when our youth dress in a bad fashion we should not complain or that such bad dressing is right. However, I find every problem with hypocrites who do find such characteristics on stars as a virtue but regard it as a vice when we see it on someone else. I do not know about you but in my own dictionary that is hypocrisy at its peak.

Hopefully, another time I venture into my field (law) and write on how we majority of Ghanaians break the law (even those laws that they are aware of) with impunity but are so quick to call for the head of those who are caught.

However, I will not end this piece without stating my utmost displeasure and contempt for those who are so quick to throw refuse and waste anywhere and then turn around to condemn the government for doing nothing about waste management. One incident which etched deep in my mind is one occasion where I sat in a taxi cab with a middle-aged lady and two school children. The lady who was eating rice from a plastic bag comfortable threw the rubber into the middle of the street without any remorse, when one of the students told her that how does she expect the streets to be clean when she continues to drop refuse in the streets she was quick to retort that children of today do not respect, funny isn't it. But she expects Ghana to be as clean as Paris.

Ghana is for all of us, and it is our duty and obligation to make it better for the next generation and for posterity. I think we all ought to change the bad habits we indulge in and also we must all come out to condemn the hypocrisy, deceit and pretense that is so prevalent in Ghana; rather than play ostrich and put our heads in the sand, thinking by not seeing them our problems will fade away.

Credit: Konadu Kwadwo Joseph Jnr.
Faculty of law (K.N.U.S.T)
CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND ADVANCED LEGAL RESEARCH (CHRALER)

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