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09.05.2016 Feature Article

The Musings Of An Old Man With Some Young People

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It is time again. I am remembering the day of my birth. That is if I really know the day I was born. But it is my adopted day. I know I was born three days before the heavy rains that blessed the land and the peasants sowed their crops. I supposed they had bumper harvest that year otherwise they would have told me when I grew up.

There will be no gong gong. There will be no party. It is time for reflection. And what is there to reflect. It is for certainty that I am now over 3 scores. I do not need to tell you that. It is written all over me. As if this is not enough. It is drummed to me every day. Those who are nice call me Uncle. They don’t know that in my youth I was called Uncle Ho so I have been an Uncle for so long. I was one of the donkeys of the Ghanaian ‘Revolution’ but they respectfully called me Uncle Ho. Today, the nicest ones call me Daddy. Other simply calls me the Old Man. I accept all. Sometimes I laugh. Spending quite more years than half of my lifetime in the UK, I sometimes wonder about those who are in or over 3 scores, do they realise that they are accumulating on years and the wrinkles are all there as identity markers. As for the grey hair we can shave clean.

That we are growing nearer to our six by six plots, our only private property in death and to the land of the dream world. The land that no Ghanaian want to go. In realization that they will go there one day, some spend fortunes in atonement for their ‘sins’ in the churches and mosques or whatever religious inclinations. In the UK I meet and have friends who are nearer or even over my three scores and more. And we will talk earnestly about what we can do for Ghana. We turn to over exaggerate our importance. We forget that we are “yesterday people”. That a new era has arisen and is no respecter for the sacrifices of our great Nkrumah and the post independent great people who are now deceased like Emma Hansen, Johnny Hansen, Chris Hesse, Ashiboe Mensah, etc.

Yet we are glued in this alluding place called UK. They do not even know when they will take the next flight home that is barely six hours away. It takes twice that time from Accra to Bolgatanga. Not for me for now. I am here writing in the sweltering heat. I am baking all day long. When I drive and occasionally stopped by the Police, I show my white bear that almost and sometimes guarantee me safe passage, even though they would have preferred some few cedis. Maybe that is the small amenities that I have fought these years for. To show my weathered face to the policeman and go by.

“So what message do you have, Old Man this year for us,” my sister daughter asked me this April. It was at her wedding celebrations, what they called blessings by the Catholic priest, though they do no marry themselves but bless others for successful marriages. Do they enjoy the trials and tribulations of marriage life?

Well, I have nothing much to say. I do not have anything to offer her. I know with blessings on her she will have children. She and her husband will have many and many years to live and raise their children. This is so for many of our young people. What world is it that we should bequest to them? Should it be a world as it is? As for me I have lived beyond the average age that Ghanaians should dare to live. I am the oldest in the three homesteads in Zanlerigu village, the three houses that we call close family. The others have gone and I am sure hastened by dry alcohol drink call akpeteshie.

So what are issues confronting us today and what should we be doing? I am at a lost. I have to implore on the younger generation to assist me with answers. But I am not a passive observer and will make my contributions.

According to Sulley: “There is so much corruption. It is ‘acceptable’ feature of our national life. It seems the media attention is part of the cathartic or group cleansing that after all it not everybody that applauds corruption.”

Interrupts Ama: “It is not easy to do anything without paying a bribe. In the state sector corruption and mismanagement are beyond all proportions. Some aspects of corruption have been ‘legalized’ with management boards paying themselves hefty amounts. They create artificial meetings for more loot”.

Kojdo Ansah saps in: “In addition to this the NDC government is implementing an unfettered IMF/World Bank economic policy that has grounded the country into a halt. All what they talk about is so-called massive infrastructure projects. It is the duty for any governments to build roads. And moreover the costs are inflated and spiral out of control. They are money making exercise for the NDC and their chief lieutenants. When they privatize like the they are doing to our electricity, they say not. It is not privatization. It is for the private sector to manage the electricity for 20 to 30 years and hand it back to us. Ha. Whom are they deceiving?”

“Tell me something else. Do you know that cash and carry has returned to the hospitals? The health centres and hospitals have no drugs. Though we all pay for the NHIS through taxes, the NDC and responsible people have collapsed it.” Hani-Ah added.

Donkor interjected: “Do you know. In the midst of extreme high level of unemployment and poverty, none of the parties are offering any clear alternative. Listen to the new media. It all about NDC and NPP. It is all about who will win the November 2016 elections. There are threats and counter threats. And the two parties equally think they will win otherwise there will be mayhem.”

“What is the truth and what is falsehood”, added Malikah, “Either you join the NDC or NPP. To me it seems people have given up and look forward to when their party comes to power and they will join in the loot. Mark my words many votes in November 2016 are for sale. It is possible that some people votes will be bought and that can tilt the balance in favour of the NDC or NPP.”

“But Old Man want are you not saying anything”, ask Ama.

What can I say if these young people want to hear my story and here we go.

“For years and years, I have believed in equality. Not absolute equality but social justice. I believe that there are enough resources in this world and in particular Ghana, that can make people live comfortable. I believe we must work and improve the society. I believe that basic and essential services such as education, health and housing must be available to all. I believe our taxes must benefit people. I believe in socialism. Simply equality of opportunity. Not the ‘socialism’ of the few, where the NDC and NPP are struggling to control the state for the benefit of a minority for themselves. A real socialism that will ensure that people do not go hungry. This is something that is not anachronism. It is something real. Mankind have survived on this planet and taken control of it because we have always looked out for each other. Not the society that we are building today, which is dog eats dog society. We cannot sustain what we are having in Ghana now forever.

“Progressive ideas, the right of employment, the right to free health and a home are credible today. In the United States the citadel of capitalism, people are realizing that a tiny proportion of people, what they call the 1% control everything. And that is why Bernie Sanders movement is growing stronger every day. In the UK, one could not have believed that Jeremy Corbyn, would lead the Labour Party. Today he is leading the Labour Party and could be Prime Minister one day. Throughout the world progressive ideas have enable people to move from barbarism to civilization. In Latin American we have had the Morales of Bolivia; former President Luiz Ignacious Lula da Silva of Brazil; Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, etc. Though there are attempts to reverse these achievements in Latin American, the will of the people will survive the turmoil.

“In Ghana today we need to build a new movement. A third force, I will call it. A force that is decidedly in the interest of ordinary people and not just for the few. Our politics should be the politics of how to advance our country. Such a force should be a challenge to the existing two party systems. It should struggle and take power from the moribund parties and begin the process of transforming the country.”

At this stage, Wuni, a sixteen year old senior secondary school student cut in: “We need a Rawlings. I heard during his time there was discipline and order and people were happy. We need the Rawlings revolution”.

I smile and said: “No my grandson. We do not need a Rawlings. Hmn. Rawlings have not been in power seen 2000. People turn to forget the tragedy he and his P(NDC) visited on this country. In 1979, he stated that he had cut the revolution in the middle. That was during the June 4, 1979 arising. And yes he did cut the revolution in the middle. In December 1981, he successfully carried out a successfully coup d’état against Dr. Hila Liman administration. From 1983 onwards after he has purged the genuine progressive (people who really wanted real change in power relations, where ordinary people will have a say) he implemented the most far reaching IMF/World Bank policies in this country with Dr. Kwesi Botchway as the Finance Minister.

Thousands of workers especially in Accra, Tema and Takoradi were laid off. Most of the state industries were either left to decay or sold out for peanuts under his watch. Our tropical rainforest was completely decimated during his reign. He established what was termed the culture of silence. People were afraid to say anything against his regime. Hundreds of ordinary people were killed, chased into exile or disappeared. He wanted to establish one-person rule, the rule of Rawlings. It took courageous people in Ghana to rise up against his rule.

He was dragged to the “democracy” table by the might and power of Ghanaians who had awakened up to his dictatorship. Even then, he smuggled in ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Constitution to ensure that he is not called to account for his misrule. It was during his over 20 years in power, the longest by any government in Ghana, that corruption was ‘legalised’ and became acceptable. To maintain himself in power he encouraged tribalism and nepotism. So my son, No Rawlings.

“My children that is another day that we cannot tell the saga of the Rawlings era in this sitting. We should not make the mistake and despite our present predicaments that we want a Rawlings. People like Rawlings are fraud of society, and we must ensure that people like that do not ever emerge.

“But Old Man. What can we do to ensure that the Rawlings, the NDC and NPP do not maintain power forever”, asked Oforiwaa.

“Power is absolutely important. And it is important to have clear ideas that we can put to the people. For example we must be a party of the people and for the people. The party must be self-financing. Ordinary people must fund the party. We must have ideas on how to manage the economy, how to create jobs, or to become self-reliant, how to cooperate with our neighbours and the world. We should have a movement that believes in the people. The party must believe in accounting to the people. Development must be for the people and they must be engaged in the process. We must not preach virtue and practice vile.”

“It may not be possible to put such a party before the November 2016 elections. However, we must all vote. WE SHOULD VOTE FOR ONE OF THE SMALL PARTIES. WE SHOULD NOT VOTE FOR NDC OR NPP. A vote for them is a vote for the status quo. We know the small parties have no clear policies and are heavily infiltrated by the NDC and NPP. But all the same a vote for the small parties is a vote against the two parties. We must force the elections to go to the second round. And in the process if the NDC or the NPP wins eventually they will respect us.”

And as we talk the clouds were gathering. It was a sign of good omen, that in the long run everything will be okay. If our farmers have good rains. They will sow and we will have food. We will have water to quest our thirst. We will continue another day.

Nyeya Yen

Nyeya Yen
Nyeya Yen, © 2016

The author has 10 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: NyeyaYen

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