The Rastafarian is often regarded in society as perhaps crazy. For most people, whatever he says is absolute rubbish or perhaps madness since he is presumed to be under the influence of drugs, preferably marijuana (wee). The truth however is, the Rastafarian is not crazy! He is among the few people in society who see the truth and says it as that! In most reggae songs, is the truth! The truth has been inculcated. We are however so consumed in our prejudices against Rastafarians or better still reggae artists that we fail to listen to whatever they have to say in their songs. If only we would open our hearts and ears and look beyond their outward appearance, we would truly see them as they are. We would learn the bitter truth. God knows, even our so-called mad men and drunkards speak only of the truth! The truth is bitter, but it has to be said! The truth is bitter, but it is in fact, the only truth!
Our dearly beloved country, Ghana is unwell! Things keep going bad! Corruption keeps rising despite the various campaigns to fight it! Huge sums of money are disappearing from our national coffers each day! Contracts are being breeched! Projects are being abandoned! Most often, we talk about a means to ending this menace and then realize in the end, that we have no clue where to begin! Corruption in Ghana is now so deep-rooted that to uproot it, we cannot trace the roots! For most people, it has become a part of us! It is in our language, in our music, in our thinking, in our dressing and in every step we take! It has even become our religion! It has become our way of life! The issue of the inefficiencies in our government and social structures is one that keeps most of us awake each night. Our Ghanaian mentality is fast killing us!
The main tribulations in Ghana today are usually on employment, education, accommodation, transportation, healthcare, utilities, social services, bribery and corruption, security, among others. Most of our predicaments in this society of ours are mainly centered on these. Day in, day out, we keep deliberating on finding lasting solutions, but at the dawn of each day, these very problems stare us in the face!
For most of us, the only people we love to blame for our predicament is the government. But who is the government? It is you and I! Who gives the government power? It is you and I? Each day and all around us, we keep hearing people blaming the government for the grime that surrounds us. When will we wake up to the truth? How long would it take us to recognize our individual contributions? In our government are leaders and with each leader are several subordinates. Under all those leaders, are us! We are the very people destroying the foundations upon which our great country was built. Over the years, several policies have been formulated and enacted. Several scores down the lane, where are these policies? Are they functional at all? Absolutely not! This is because we conveniently and comfortably break the law each day!
We keep losing huge sums of money in this country because in our various homes, offices in our various cities, towns, and villages, we are all secretly stealing from our nation! We evade taxes all the time! We extort monies all the time! We demand and receive bribes all the time! We over-charge monies all the time! We fail to pay for our utilities all the time! We pay or charge less for services all the time! Projects that have been awarded are being abandoned each day by our local contractors! Monies that should be channeled towards the development of the nation keep finding its way into private accounts! We keep embezzling and misappropriating funds! Our law enforcement agents are failing us! Our market women and shop owners are in the business of over-profiting and yet, fail to meet their tax demands! Landlords are now into the exploitation business! People are even hoarding our local currency in the form of foreign exchange and so, our economy suffers! And yet, we have the impudence to attack politicians! The Ghanaian mentality!
Nationwide, there are the usual talks on bribery and corruption and continual pointing of accusing fingers at others other than ourselves! The real question is, Who Offers the Bribe? Who Conveniently Pays the Bribe? It is you and I! Until we decide to use the right channels and refuse paying these bribes or 'taxes', this canker would never go to rest! In this country are people who demand to be paid extra just to do their very own jobs! The jobs they are being paid for at the end of each month! Others also pay not to do their jobs! We always label the politician as corrupt when in truth, they are mere reflections on us! God knows, we rally behind these people! They have our votes! We are their supporters! For our sakes, they become corrupt! With our demands, they become more corrupt each day in order to please us! We are more corrupt than they are! We breed corruption anytime we choose to use shortcuts. A parent seeking admission for a ward would easily offer 'something' to secure a place. Whenever we need to carry out a seemingly herculean task, we look out for our connections which are people in high places. In the end, someone becomes corrupted! In our traffic stream, motorists and other offenders willingly offer to or pay bribes for an offence. It seems the punishment for an offense in Ghana today is a bribe! In our various institutions both governmental and private are people who would pay all sums just to have their way. Even in our hospitals, people are paying off medical personnel in order to be attended to in a timely manner! I am sure that even on judgment day, some people would willingly offer bribes to God!
We keep complaining about joblessness. On our airwaves, we keep hearing our youth complaining each day. However upon gaining employment, attitudes change completely! The average Ghanaian worker especially in a government institution shows up late for work each day and then conveniently leaves early! This same person, at work seems only interested in idling till the close of the day. An assignment that can be carried out in a single day becomes a year-long affair! In the end, this same person expects increased wages or salaries! Failure of management to comply results in strikes and demonstrations! That is indiscipline at the highest order! The Ghanaian mentality!
For those in the construction and manufacturing industry, our stories are varied. Workers are usually very lazy! They show up for work but prefer not to do any honest day's work! Supervisors are usually at their mercy, receiving all sorts of complaints and insults! These were the same people who stood at the gates, begging for employment. Right after receiving the employment, their attitudes change. Employers or supervisors practically have to beg employees to carry out their own jobs! Jobs they are being paid for! Projects are being delayed in Ghana today as a result of these attitudes! Our local contractors take up contracts and in the end, fail to deliver. Those who manage to, deliver shoddy works! Is it then surprising that expatriates are taking over our country? Is it then surprising that in Ghana today especially in the construction industry, foreigners are winning our contracts to the disadvantage of our locals? The truth is, for these foreigners, time is money! The Ghanaian has no regard for time! African punctuality! And yet, we keep complaining that times are hard! The Ghanaian mentality!
In this country is a growing populace which is mainly interested in the quick and easy way of making money. Most young people today dream of, and seek to achieve what their elders perhaps used quite a number of years to achieve through hard work and perseverance. Ambition is a good virtue. But ambition, is a like a double-edge sword. It can either make or unmake you. For these reason, most people generally prefer to be called ambitious and rather not, over-ambitious. The youth or perhaps, new breed of Ghanaians are practically over-ambitious. They keep complaining about the unavailability of jobs. The truth however is, for most of these bunch, the jobs are available, but perhaps, not their dream jobs. Half a loaf is better than none! There are jobs out there but these jobs have been labeled as uncut for a faction of our youth, who are only interested in the white-collar jobs and big salaries. In the end, they prefer to travel outside our shores to engage themselves in menial jobs rather than take up better or similar jobs back home. For most of these people, it is all about the money. People of other nationals have examined our market, identified the shortfalls, penetrated the system and are making it. In the end, we complain about too much competition by foreign investors. The Ghanaian mentality!
Locally, we have been admonished to patronize locally manufactured products. The truth is, the Ghanaian loves the shortcut! We love to make a lot for doing nothing! Our local manufacturers usually present us with inferior goods at relatively higher prices. The international markets however present us with useful alternatives at low prices but of good quality! In the end, the Ghanaian market suffers! The local manufacturer complains! Several people in Ghana today are into the labels! They prefer internationally acclaimed labels or designs and would proudly showcase or parade themselves in these. For this, our local manufacturers are forced to re-brand themselves with these popular international designs. Who then do we expect to patronize our businesses when we are in love with foreign goods and products? Is it then surprising when our governments hand out huge contracts to foreign companies? Do we not in most cases have the needed expertise? We give credibility to anything foreign rather than local! Our local businesses are dying as a result of the choices we make each day. We help build other economies each day rather than ours! And yet, we expect our country to develop! The Ghanaian mentality!
As citizens, we generally expect the government to do everything for us! Some people would rather stay at home and expect a salary from the government at the end of every month. Ghana is our only legacy and property! The development of this country lies in our hands, and so does its future. This is a principle that every child ought to be taught! Our educational system should echo this! Our country is failing because we are all failing. It is not enough for one man to be satisfied when the community hungers or lives in deprivation. Our founding father Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah once said that 'The independence of Ghana is not complete until it is linked to the total liberation of the African Continent'! We cannot describe our country as developed based on a few successes until all become successful!
Rather ironically, the most corrupt person around us is always very quick to point accusing fingers at the government. For most of us, whenever the words 'Bribery and Corruption' come up, the first people we think about is the politician, when in fact, we are the true politicians.
Of late, we keep hearing stories of how monies that should be geared towards the development of the nation are being put to waste by some of our leaders. Over and over again, people keep hurling insults and pointing accusing fingers at our various political leaders. Rather ironically, these same politicians are accusing each other. They tarnish the image of others just to make themselves look good! Let us not be fooled! They are doing so just to obtain your votes in order to occupy that particular position. In the end, they could become worse off than the previous! A person may only criticize you simply because he or she is jealous and not specifically because you have committed a wrong! For this, some good people have become unpopular among the masses! Let us not put our trust or hopes in man! No politician can make you happy! They are mere mortals like us! Their prime interest is themselves! We owe it to ourselves to work hard for our families and not wait on them!
In our various workplaces are people, occupying various positions, and yet, not working enough. In this country are people who are employed, and yet could be better described as underemployed. This is so because, they are unproductive! We keep expecting our opinion leaders to solve all our problems when in fact, that person is struggling to solve his own problems! The politician cannot solve your problem so you need not put your hopes in him! Your future lies with you! God helps those who help themselves. No one would offer you success on a silver platter! Manner no longer falls from above! To reach the height that we so much desire, we need to toil for that. Our society is such that whenever we encounter someone who has made it exceptionally well, we immediately attribute this success to an illegal means. The Ghanaian mentality!
The eagle soars higher than most birds because naturally, it loves to rest in higher places and be above all birds. We need to learn from the eagle and do away with our Ghanaian mentality!
To combat and find a lasting solution to the problems confronting Ghana today, we need to recognize and acknowledge the truth! I know the truth and so, will say it as it is as long as I live! I will do so because I envisage a future of economic stability, development and security! Let us change our Ghanaian mentality!
Anna Esi Hanson ([email protected]), Takoradi.