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Ghana - past our history, presenting our situation, and dreaming the future

Posted by abocco on Tue, 04/22/2008 - 07:31 GhanaThink Managing Executive

...Sounds on da ground and seens on the see-ins

Countless people have asked me about my three month stay in Ghana. Everytime the question is asked, I give a slightly different answer. The default thing to say is - it was great. I normally prefer pointed questions - my indecisiveness cripples my answers to such general questions. My stay in Ghana inspired and taught me a lot, it made me understand how various things work in Ghana (especially in industry) and how comfortable or uncomfortable I could find myself in my own land. Most people seek out my opinion on going back, and my answer is always the same - eventually I will go back and soon. Why would I? My friend Becca would help out here with her song called Ghana.

Becca is an Afro-pop singer from Ghana. She's a new school type of Ghanaian musician, young, educated, singing in English with some pretty good music videos. A lot of her colleagues have grown up influenced by rhythm and blues more than highlife or afro-fusion, but she chooses to sing the Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Miriam Makeba type of tunes we'll still be listening to in 20 years. I admire her talent and hardwork and believe she will go places. Other songs on her debut album include U lied to me (Kwabena Kwabena), I love you (which she did with South African legend Hugh Masekela), Why (King Ayisoba), Hey baa, Sugar, Naughty Girl and Hello.

The song 'Ghana' was done to commemorate Ghana's golden jubilee in 2007. It is not very easy to write songs to commemorate 50 years of freedom/hardship, and the songs that were made on the subject vary greatly. Becca's song chose to celebrate the stage at which Ghana is, and the positive outlook we can draw from the present situation. She wishes for a united Ghana that sings one song, tells one story and buys into a single vision.

According to Becca, we got a lot going on. This line struck me so hard when I first listened to the song. Ghana indeed has a lot going on. For one, we just discovered oil aka black gold and production is set for early 2009. We believe it will give us the needed capital to invest in excellent infrastructure that would help our businesses take flight. Our people are resilient, innovative and creative enough to succeed in the face of unreliable power and amenities as well as many other unforeseen circumstances. The Ghanaian economy is booming and there are many opportunities for people to take advantage of. The middle class is not huge enough to support the introduction and success of many services but we are getting there. Many university graduates are not getting the jobs they were prepared for but for the entrepreneurs amongst them, there are many sectors that can delve deep into and succeed.

"Red, gold, black, and green; Our land, our dream". Our forefathers fought tooth and nail to secure our freedom. Our mineral resources are thankfully still available even though we don't seem to own them as much any more. We've had our flood problems, but I will say we are not in environmental trouble. People claim that to get to the level of development we seek, we must industrialize and pollute at the same time. We must not repeat the mistakes of the people we learn from. Our 'blackness' associates us with the African peoples who are in close proximity to us and we share similar problems, aspirations and dreams. What is our dream though? What is the Ghanaian dream? This is where Becca leaves us hanging. Is it any one person's job to define the Ghanaian dream? Do we need a vision, a fantasy of what and how success is achieved? I postulate that Ghana's dream should be a nation with bearable costs of living, high standards of living, and adequate infrastructure to help its citizens achieve their dreams independently and independent of outside help or sources.

What is that one tongue Becca says we'll speak? English? The principles and tenets of Christianity? The do's and don'ts of a national anthem? The constitution? We have managed to avoid a major civil or tribal war and that is remarkable. We won't separate like Becca puts it. We haven't done a great job protecting our culture, because we are losing our grasp of our language. And the educated youth have not lost their command of our culture through any of their doing, their elders have failed to instill it in them. We can't afford to lose interest in what makes us, or our history, traditions and culture. We must protect our future, for ourselves, for our children and our future. We are Ghana what is and if we don't care all that would be left of us would be our names, and the bits of our language that we understand.

It's difficult to get excited if we don't know what is going on. We have failed to communicate our successes to our people. We see a lot of huge residential establishments sprining up in Accra but we don't know where they are coming from. How are we going to continue building our country if we don't know how those who came before us built it? We have role models amongst us and we must identify, praise, study and duplicate them. Becca says we'll toil the earth and research but we need the tools and resources to do so.

We need to bring our books to date. We've been slowed by political setbacks and development agendas cut short. It's great that we have a stabilized democracy and nation now, but we've had that for about 16 years now, it's time to put the positives into the pockets of our people. This is where we must recharge our cells for the last lap and put in the extra effort. We need to do this as quickly as possible, even to the tune of crippling our economy so that we can achieve our collective dreams. If we don't act fast enough, some of us may give up.

Ghana, keep moving on Ghana. Keep moving on Ghana, keep moving on Ghana, keep moving on Ghana, keep moving on Ghana. Let's not give up, let's took to the positive things we do day in and day out, and let's believe that we can change the things we hate to see day in day out. Keep educating your neighbour on cleanliness. Keep pushing your friend to return to Ghana and see what has changed. Keep encouraging your colleague who just can't get that economic theory. Keep keeping on. We can't stop now, we got a lot going on. Wontsei o!!!!!!

Full Ghana lyrics, audio, video. Photo by Amaah, a Ghanaconscious member


A long way to go

I went to Ghana (Accra to be specific) in december 07 and I was very disappointed. I saw no change in places like james town, bukom, chorkor, mamprobi, korle gonno, sodom &gomorah, dansoman, and tema station is an eye sore. Something has to be done about tema station and agbogboloshie market-it's AWFUL! At agbogboloshie market, people were selling infront of open gutters-that's insane. I would say 75% of the traffic lights in Accra didn't work. No town planning, no local gov't and if there is, it's not effective. Kiosks and containers are littered everywhere. Most people are just buying and selling stuff mostly from china.We have a very long way to go.


Me nte AsiE!

OK, so when I hear people say "let us", "let us", my inclination is to challenge the "let us". I mean what is the use of hyping and psyching people up when we as individuals haven't purposed or decided anything in our hearts and minds to contribute.

It's not about how much of a positive outlook we have or how critical we can be of status quo it is essentially what Auntie Gina above can do, what Uncle Abocco can Contribute and What W)fa Benjy can add. I don't believe in hyping people up if I haven't purposed in my heart of hearts and mind of minds to contribute something substantial alone or in collaboration with others.

We are all great minds and we can contribute great things. Granted not everybody's contribution to the nation is going to earn them the Nobel Peace Prize but nonetheless ketewaa biara nsoa! One thing that I am very aware of however, is that we can't all come up with our contributions simultaneously. One persons contribution may happen tomorrow another's light bulb or opportunity to contribute may go on 20 yrs down the line. Does that make the latter contribution any less than the former? NO! it's just a matter of timing.

In a nutshell, I will advocate that we be careful not to focus on what is wrong today and complaining about it but instead channel that energy of complaint not just into hyping people up generally but into asking the question "what can I contribute and when can I do to help?" That said, Uncle Abocco is it possible to get Becca's CD or the Music from you? LOL I like her music ;-) lemme know! Blessings!

On Ghana

Benjy, how do you know that some of us "haven't purposed or decided anything in our hearts and minds to contribute"? I don't see anything wrong with hyping and psyching people up even if you haven't contributed anything yet. I agree that individual contributions are very important but it's not enough. There're changes that have to come from central &local gov't and law enforcement agencies. If we are not critical of our situation, how can the people in charge (e.g AMA, KMA, dces, mces, assembly men/women, mps, ministers) know that they are not doing their jobs? I wish I can remake all the roads in Ghana, get rid of all the kiosks& containers littered everywhere, make sure all traffic lights work, get rid of market women selling infront of gutters but I can't because I don't have the authority. Does that mean I shouldn't be critical of the situation? Individual contributions are important but contributions from central& local gov't are critical. Most of the changes I expected to see in the places I mentioned had to be made by central&local gov't and law enforcement not individuals.


Auntie Gina

Auntie Gina, I am glad you recognize the role of the governmental powers to effect change in Ghana. Notice that at no point did I say that no one has purposed anything to contribute. If you reread my first paragraph carefully you would notice I asserted that psyching people up achieves nothing IF (keyword IF) they and even you haven't purposed to do anything on an individual level to help.

As the cliche goes, "Little drops of water make a mighty ocean." Fine, there is a role the governmental institutions play but I beg to differ that they are not the only ones who can play that role. In other words, what you are imagining they alone can do, can be done by Auntie Gina in the most creative of ways. Most probably not singlehandedly but definitely possibly. Blessings!

Keep up the encouragement

Keep up the encouragement Gina! You have no idea how much it means to me to see your signature!

Benjygh, please give us some examples of things you've done that are traditionally gov't responsibilities so we can get even more encouragement. Thanks!

GhanaThink Managing Executive

Let's get to work, ketewa biara nsua

Benjy, but we have purposed in our hearts and minds to contribute o. I am only calling out to those who haven't to join us. :-)
This community is supposed to be a support network calling out to people, we haven't gotten much done and the constant reminders would put this 'agenda' heavy on our hearts.

People are doing these things in their small ways and they need to be broadcasted, which is part of the reason GhanaThink exists. There is Ghana-do in all of us, some of us have been doing and this is the evidence we need to prove to ourselves that it is not just the responsibility of government. You made a great point about timing. The issue is, why should the contributions happen any later and what is preventing us from contributing now. We may very well grow disinterested in contributing and that's why we have to prop ourselves up and encourage each other while we are still enthusiastic.

The answer to what we can do to contribute is scattered all over these forums. The forums are brimming with ideas, but we haven't moved into action due to 'chao' factors. My blog entry broadcasts that this is a good time to move into action because there is a lot going on. Let's get to work.

the destiny of a nation at any given time depends on the opinions and contributions of its young men and women.