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04.10.2002 General News

Pre-Rawlings Era - An Experience

By Donkor, G. A.
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This article seeks to highlight on the state of the economy before the P/NDC so that children below 20 years can judge for themselves if Ghana has advanced or retrogressed. TWENTY years down the ladder of Ghanaian history may sound very long a period indeed but a lot has gone into it, for many interesting things have happened, which need to be told to the unadulterated minds. My heart bleeds when I listen to those who are matured and have lived to witness the happenings before the appearance of the "Junior Jesus" and have all the opportunity to tell the younger generation that, though some ugly things have happened, they were nowhere near the positive developments which have taken place and as a result raised Ghana's image which had before been driven into the quagmire of under-development to take its rightful place in the comity of nations and indeed been acclaimed as the gateway to Africa, but will twist facts! If anyone had told you 20 years ago that though Ghana had electricity as early as 1960 or later, and that the presidency has changed hands to both military and civilian which period exceeds 20 years that all the District capitals, not to talk of villages, would be hooked to the national electricity grid, you will not believe it, for, the assumption was that, the day electricity would be extended beyond the boundaries of Accra and perhaps Kumasi, the Dam will dry! In 1982 when I was 12 years old, my playing mate came to tell me that he had heard an unusual sound. This was when someone had returned from Nigeria and had brought a tape-recorder. As a village boy who had neither seen a tape nor TV before, he was surprised on hearing the sound. He quickly came back and called me to follow him to listen to what he demonstrated as sounding "kukurede-kure-kure". It was a sound of Guitar! We had never seen a tape-recorder, for the village consisted of 40-50 houses! A youth of about 20 years or below, who incidentally form an integral part of Ghana's population for that matter will make little of this experience. For, now, the story is different; no household talks about tape recorder or TV; they talk of Internet etc! There was little about entertainment in the village. Now, I turn to traveling as pertains in those days. This was experienced when I accompanied my father to a meeting. It was a hazardous journey! He was then a worker in the Brong Ahafo Region and was to attend a meeting in the Central Region, Saltpond to be precise. A journey of less than 400 miles took three days to complete. The road was muddy not to talk of tarred road. And the rainy season had not only deepened the existing potholes but had also made the road, particularly, in the towns, slippery. It was impossible to estimate the depth of each pothole until you had driven into it! Cars had, on occasions, been submerged up to the bonnet and their engines had conked out! The town/village boys made money every rainy season by pushing cars that had got stuck. Now, the hitherto steep-hill-roads and a straight-road-up, which would have struck fear into any motorist, have been lowered to flat and smooth asphalted roads! That is now the Techiman-Kumasi-Anwia-Nkwanta-Cape Coast roads. Now it takes seven hours to complete or even less. Now the "manholes" have been turned asphalt roads! Almost all the major roads have been completed. Talk of asphalt roads from Bolga to Kintampo. From Kumasi through Sunyani to Dormaa Ahenkro and beyond—from Accra to Akosombo—from Accra to Kumasi, now deplorable, from Biriwa to Takoradi and beyond to mention but a few. In terms of roads Ghana is counted among the best in the sub-region. Still on the road sector, as a native of Brong Ahafo there were some Districts we had declared NO GHANA. This was because the roads to those Districts were so deplorable that every lorry loathed going there. Towns like Nkoranza, Goaso, Jaman District, Atebubu district etc. fell within this category. In the whole Brong Ahafo the only roads tarred were Sunyani-Techiman, Techiman-Wenchi, Techiman-Kintampo roads. All the other roads which linked other District capitals were gravelled-roads hence the accolade No Ghana. Types of lorries plying those roads were "Watonkyene" (Cargo cars). Their seats were wooden-stripe. (Like benches). There were no Urvans, Taxis, and Transports etc. plying the roads. As children, we pride ourselves when we fortunately accompanied our parents to cities. In the cities like Kumasi, Sunyani etc. we saw TATA and OSA buses, and electricity as well. Nobody knew about migration. Perhaps the fortunate ones were those who migrated to Nigeria and Cote d'voire. Very few talked about Europe let alone travelling there. Nobody was money conscious. All that we knew was schooling and farming. Our parents aired their worldly popularity when they were able to see their children through Standard Seven. (Elementary Form Four). Very few in the districts knew about university except perhaps the fortunate ones who had relatives staying in either the national capitals or Regional capitals. The culture was that a relative in the city who knew the value of education would adopt the brilliant child in the family to further his education in the city. This was the national psyche about education in general. There were no Secondary schools in most of the District capitals. Though this article seeks to highlight on the happenings and situation in my home region, Brong Ahafo, they were not peculiar to it. The question is what pertains now in my home region? Now all the District capitals are connected to the National electricity grid. Almost all towns and villages, which fall within the radius of 20 kilometres from the District capitals, are also hooked to electricity. With the erection of TV Antenna in Sunyani, the hitherto Jaman District and towns around Cote d'voire border which could not access GTV now access GTV! Now the youth have become money conscious. They have become ambitious. They not only talk and attend secondary schools; they attend Training Colleges and Universities! Presently, the backward, uninformed villager is able to make savings, a quantum to take him abroad! He thinks about building block house; no more "Atakwame" (mud house). He does not walk for about two miles to fetch water before he goes to school, for there is a borehole just in front of his house! He does not walk to market centres; he travels by cars and lorries. Taxi abounds in the town/villages. In the streets of Techiman and elsewhere are decorated Ticos, Ponys, Hyundai etc. Thanks to the Red, Green and Black coloured-umbrella president and his team of dedicated citizens! The objective onlooker will see and remember you for you have made Ghana a country worth belonging to, even the "Refugees" pride themselves of being its citizens. This article will be half-backed if I did not write about my experience with the telecommunication sector, an experience worth telling! Telephones were virtually non-existent when I was about 30 years go! In the early 80s when my father was preparing to sojourn to Europe, he was compelled to travel from Brong Ahafo to Accra to make international calls! It was non-existent in the Regional capitals! It involved a colossal amount, for none of the family members was able to communicate with him on phone during his 4-year stay in Europe! As a student in the Central Region in the early 90s when telephone had begun to show its radiant face, I had run out of money and in line with the arrangement I had made with my parents, I went to the Post Office, the only public telephone facility in the town to call Accra for money. At Saltpond Post Office, I climbed upstairs to arrange for my call. the lady in-charge on receiving my number told me to descend and wait at the only booth available at the post office, so that she will connect me when she was through. 5-10 minutes later, she connected me. I was surprised to know that I could not talk directly to my relative in Accra! She would listen to whatever I say and relay it! 13 years later, I call London, America and elsewhere even while still on my closet or in bed! This was Ghana for you. Let the objective minds judge for themselves if as a nation we have advanced or retrogressed. (Article was emailed by Kojo Baako)

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