Fellow Ghanaians, in the face of floods, deaths and massive destruction of properties, I come with felicitations from the Upper East region. Is it out of the blue that Ghana and for matter Africa with rare exceptions like Rwanda seems to be moving in circles without making headway? Is it not because of our penchant for bastardizing good things and making the absurd normal?
Is not because we revel in pettiness to dealing with the core issues? Is it not also because of our proclivity to make everything foreign superior and better than things made through our own sweat? Ali Mazrui was right, Africa produces what it does not consume and consumes what it does not produce.
In order to do justice to the topic, I set my mind to, a historical journey back to the beginning of colonial rule is not fool's quest. I take you down memory lane to the day when Lord Macaulay addressed the British parliament on 2nd February 1835 upon his visit to Africa. He affirmed the integrity and belief of Africans in their own ability. In order to bring us to our knees, he suggested that Africans be miseducated to believe that everything European is good and superior to everything African.
He believes it's only when that's done that Africans will agree to come under European subjugation. Thus, the day we began to see Frytol and polish rice better than our indigenous shea butter and palm oil was the beginning of the bane of our progress as a continent.
This gives impetus to the thrust of the dependency theory arguments that Africa is unable to extricate herself from the underdevelopment quagmire because we've been integrated into the world economy to produce raw materials. But isn't Paul Kagame right when he avers that Africans problems are not a lack of resources but the absence right mindsets? Until we're able to mobilize the right mindsets we'll wander in the wilderness for a long time.
Fast forward in the 21st century when there's arguably no colonial rule, Ghana and Africa have not done enough beyond lip service to reorient our crave for foreign goods. In this regard, it is, therefore, no news that there is an ever-widening trade deficit, one-sided exchange rates, fast depreciation of local currencies and local economies doing well in GDP but the good figures are not felt in people's pockets as monies made are repatriated leaving hollow economies. This is because of our over-reliance on imported goods and not prioritizing indigenous industries and production.
I thought as we mark the “Year of Return” which places focus on eating, drinking and wearing Ghana; we would for once prioritize Ghanaian goods and services so as to help boost local industry. In the face of too much talk about the “Year of Return” and need to patronize made in Ghana, we have our leaders go on holidays abroad. Isn't that preposterous! I shudder to think whether the “Year of Return” is reserved for a particular group of people. It's even more self-stabbing to see our ministers, MPs and other dignitaries attending meetings and programs in suites and other foreign attire.
As if the above is not self-stabbing enough, I heard my shock of the year when I attended an orientation at parliament in preparation for my national service there. As part of the training, we were told the things permissible and things not permissible.
I was scandalized, mesmerized and shocked to the marrow when African prints were described as inappropriate dressing especially in the chamber. We were encouraged to wear suits or at least plain white or blue shirt with a tie. I was at a loss trying to reconcile the eat, drink and wear GH and what I just heard.
In all these, one thing is clear; the incongruity of what's coming from the executive (president and appointees) and what heads of civil servants ask of their subordinates reveals the porous nature of synergy in implementation of the policy. Whiles the president and his appointees are preaching eat, drink and wear Ghana; civil servants who are core to the implementation of policy are not on the same page with them.
There is palpably a lack of clarity and general consensus on policy implementation. Better still, policies adopted are not watered down the implementation channel. This accentuates the seeming neglect of professionals in policy formulation and implementation and the display of power politics, winner takes all and winner knows all politics.
Inasmuch as they didn't explicitly reject African print, outrightly refusing that it be worn in the chamber cast a slur on it and its patronage by national service persons at parliament. With my meagre Ghc559, I won't contemplate buying an African print or smock knowing very well I can't go everywhere with them at the house of parliament.
Whiles, I accept the argument of indecent dressing especially on the part of ladies when African prints are allowed, I don't admit it's plausible enough. This is because the lady could still wear a very short and indecent skirt. For me, indecency is not a good enough reason to say African print is inappropriate dressing.
It's worthy of note that I'm not oblivious of the fact that, not all suites are imported. I'm well aware that some suites are locally produced. I'm however juxtaposing the benefits we stand to gain from prioritizing local prints, Kente, and smocks and de-emphasizing suites.
What can we do concretely to help boost the fortunes of GTP and the numerous tailors and dressmakers in every nook and cranny of our streets? Is it not by prioritizing indigenous products when the opportunity presents itself as a national service dressing code in government institutions? Ngugi Wa O'thiango is right, we need decolonization of the mind. It's only then that we can rewrite the narrative.
To end, it's not rocket science or resources that we need to make Africa develop because Africa has a bit of everything than any continent, as Rwanda's Kagame noted, we need to mobilize the right sets of minds and extricate our mentality that Africa can't do anything on her own without external support. Until then, Africa will remain in the words of Tony Blair, a scar on the consciousness of humanity. After all is it not the old aged adage that says that when the lizard of the homestead does things not known of its kind, it will be mistaken for the lizard of the forest?