I do listen to all genres of music, but reggae is my favourite. I love reggae because most reggae songs have lyrics that awaken the consciousness in me. And my all-time favourite reggae group is Culture, led by Joseph Hill of blessed memory.
Today's piece was inspired by one of the songs by the Joseph Hill-led group. 'Wings of a dove' is a song in which the group expressed its frustrations and disgust at the unadulterated suffering of the masses. Please read this extract from the song, 'It grieves me to my heart and I've got to protest and speak out… Oh when I turn and look around and see people drinking dirty water like dogs… Oh that I have wings like a dove I would fly.'
As I listened intently to the lyrics just before starting this write-up, I could not help but wonder if the group was singing about President Baloney's homeland. Almost all the malaise the song talked about could be seen in our own Asomdwekrom. The situation is so pathetic that some of our compatriots are proposing that the country be sold to the Americans or the Chinese to manage.
For me and most of my compatriots, it is not the hardship as such that is the problem. This is because no country is immune from the harsh economic realities facing the world today. The hopelessness of the situation in the country is the reason some of us are sounding the alarm bells.
For a country with all the resources one can think of, it is very sickening to note that the government cannot even make statutory payments to the NHIS, GETFund and others. The Capitation Grant to schools has not been paid for close to a year now. Special schools are almost on their knees because their grants have not been paid. Ironically, our domestic and foreign debt stocks continue to rise in the midst of all these non-payments. To lampoon the late Agya Ofuntuo, the country's debt is now beyond 'opipipipipiipiiiii'.
From whichever sector one looks, precious cowries are being siphoned from the national kitty into individual pockets. We've had cases of individuals lining their pockets in the name of judgment debt. We've also seen siphoning of public funds in the name of phantom 'akomfem' projects. We've also heard of pure thievery in the name of tree planting exercise. Stories of 'greedy bastards' riding on the wings of 'capacity building' to siphon millions of dollars from the national kitty are also very rife. Yet, one looks around and wonders whose capacity has been built or enhanced.
Ever wondered why the Zu-za governments of the late Agya Ofuntuo and Mr. Baloney love dishing out free uniforms, free lanterns, free pads, free laptops etc? Never mind the propaganda that those are social interventions, the real reason is to hide behind delivering freebies to siphon cowries. I would tell you how:
The price of the commodity to be distributed becomes a mystery. Then the number to be distributed would be far less than the number on record. The net effect is that the country is short-changed, and individuals fill their pockets with stolen cowries in the process.
Take the distribution of laptops, for instance. The public does not know the price of each; neither do we know how many were distributed. We therefore cannot contest any figure they throw at us as the total cost of the laptops distributed. The strategy is replicated in the distribution of lanterns, uniforms etc. Can you now imagine the level of looting in the name of providing freebies for the downtrodden?
It is not uncommon to hear the argument that grants from our donor partners are not forthcoming because they are also reeling under economic pressure. I agree that 'no where cool'. But the truth of the matter is that our donor partners are not oblivious of the recklessness of our government. If you were in their shoes, would you donate to a government that wastes money on phantom 'akomfem' projects and dubious tree planting exercises? Would you donate to a government that goes dashing 13 pick-up trucks to chiefs, yet fails to provide chalks and exercise books for pupils?
That the incompetence and recklessness of this government have heightened hopelessness among Asomdwekromanians is a fact no one can deny. Is it any wonder that over 200 of our compatriots have sought asylum in Brazil, in order to flee the hopelessness here in Asomdwekrom? Are you also surprised to hear that 817 of our compatriots have renounced their citizenship in 2013 alone? A few years back I would have castigated their actions, but now I know better.
I spent about a month in the Islands of Bahamas and Turks and Caicos three years ago. An uncle of mine in the US impressed upon me to relocate to the US. He offered to facilitate my travel from the islands to the US and also promised to help regularise my stay in the country that has come to be known as the 'land of opportunities'.
I flatly rejected the request without giving it a second thought. I could not even imagine leaving this country permanently and relocating to another. But with the current level of hardship, I now wonder if the decision I took was the right one. Indeed, I've regretted not accepting my uncle's request. With food, utilities, fees and other needs taking all my salary, all I can do now is wish for wings to fly away from this country. Unfortunately for me, wishes are not horses!
I liken this great country to a sweet potato. But, you see, when a sweet potato is rotten or thrown into the ash-heap, it becomes uneatable. That is the sorry state in which this country finds itself today. Do you therefore blame those of us who wish for wings to fly away?
See you next week for another interesting konkonsa, Deo volente!
By Agya Kwaku Ogboro