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06.03.2006 Press Review

Editorial: At 49, what do we have to show for it?

By Chronicle

Since March 6, 1957, we as a people declared ourselves to be a people with one nation, commonly sharing diverse characteristics like religion, language, history, territory, institutions, culture, statehood or aspiration to statehood.

The majority of the present generation was not involved in the fight for freedom from the 'oppressor's rule.' Indeed, at all times in the struggle of a people, it takes a courageous few to be in the frontline - of course with a lot more unsung heroes in the shadows.

But a question that has received varied responses, as many times as has been asked is, what we have done with our independence.

There are those who believe that we have not done enough to justify the blood and toil of our fathers in redeeming the land from oppressors' rule.

There are others also who think that in spite of the difficulties and incompetences demonstrated time and again by our leaders, we are better off being short-changed by our own kind than by total strangers.

Even though those who had championed the struggle against discrimination and unfair trade practices under colonial rule had at times sacrificed their personal business interests for the general good, as demonstrated by the likes of Nii Kwabena Bonne II, Osu Alata Mantse and a businessman, today, many public officials have been quick to sacrifice the national interest for private and selfish interests.

The leaders of our nation hardly make sacrifices. Yet they have since independence called upon the people to sacrifice, in anticipation of better days, without knowing when their burden would be unloaded.

Freedom and Justice, supposed to have been the foundation of the nation, inscribed on our Coat of Arms and chiseled in stone on our Independence Arch, remain illusive.

Throughout our history, citizens who do not share the political views (ideology) of the leadership were made to feel they did not belong.

There has been consistent demonstration of intimidation and favouritism.

There is the need to refrain from turning the celebration of the independence into a partisan affair, since freedom must be shared!

Unfortunately, this is a lesson our leaders since independence never seem to have learned. Our first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, in spite of his sterling qualities and sense of vision for Ghana and Africa, unequalled by any leader since, could not handle the freedom won, nor build a foundation that would make all Ghanaians a free people.

The overthrow of his government and the First Republic, and the subsequent flawed elections that ushered in the Progress Party (PP) government of the Second Republic, further continued and deepened the discrimination and favouritism, perpetuating a divided state.

The Third Republican government of the Peoples National Party (PNP), coming in the wake of the bloody Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) coup, did not find its bearings until it was overthrown in another coup on December 31, 1981.

The longest republic that we have had is this one, which started on a controversial note, following a boycott of its first parliamentary elections in 1992 by political parties opposed to the ruling Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) government's party, National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its allies, after Flt. Lt. J. J. Rawlings had won, what the opposition claimed was 'a rigged presidential elections'.

The electoral space for transparency and leverage has seen tremendous progress, except that in the last few years, certain hiccups experienced by the Electoral Commission has not brought the best out of it.

Ghana has journeyed far, but has generally made little progress. The hopes of the people have been raised times without number, only to be dashed.

Citizens' trust in politicians continues to fall, and what little semblance of it left has been achieved through bribery and coercion.

The Chronicle would like us all, as Ghanaians, to ask ourselves, as we celebrate our 49th Independence Anniversary; what worthy things do we have to show for the 49 years of independence, and are we really a free and independent people?