The state of the nation

Posted by By at 20 June, at 08 : 00 AM Print

The state of the nation


I don’t know about you, but I reach for the books but when things get tough and confused for me.

I also take solace in listening to music. I don’t know about you, but reggae remains my favorite music genre. I am not talking about the ‘modern’ form of reggae where people sing about glorified violence and other utter rubbish.

No, I meant the old-school root reggae by such incredibly talented musicians like Culture, Burning Speare, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff etc, etc. I am also very much in love with Lucky Dube because his lyrics are just so powerful. I don’t know about you, but Bob Marley remains my all-time favourite musician.

I just cannot get enough of BMW. Like a good psychologist, Bob Marley has a line for almost every occasion.

As I lay down to ponder about the state of affairs of the Ghanaian nation, my mind drifted to one of my favorites from my massive collections of Bob Marley’s prodigious works.

Listen to Bob Marley in “Natural Mystic”:
There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air;
If you listen carefully now you will hear.
This could be the first trumpet, might as well be the last:
Many more will have to suffer,
Many more will have to die – don’t ask me why.

Things are not the way they used to be,
I won’t tell no lie;
One and all have to face reality now.
‘Though I’ve tried to find the answer to all the questions they ask.
‘Though I know it’s impossible to go livin’ through the past –
Don’t tell no lie.

There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air –
Can’t keep them down –
If you listen carefully now you will hear.

There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air.

This could be the first trumpet, might as well be the last:
Many more will have to suffer,
Many more will have to die – don’t ask me why…”

I don’t know about you, but I simply cannot remember when things were this bad or appeared this troubled in our dear land.

And I have seen a lot, I tell you.

Not only is there general hardship in the land with prices of goods sky high. This is despite all the protestations of our lying politicians, who continue to spew their usual gibberish. They told us the lie about taming inflation when our money buys less and less foodstuffs.

That was until the IMF team came to shut them up. Sadly, an IMF team has to come to our rescue, by telling our elected officials that their inflation figures simply did not add up.

That’s another troubling thing. When eminent Ghanaian economists voiced the opinion that things are terrible in Ghana price-wise, many officials rush to lambast them and rubbished their assertions. However, when the IMF team made the same observation, our usually voluble officials kept mute.

Would that have to do with the fact that the members of the IMF team were white people?

Talk about inferiority complex!

Whilst our officials are beating chests and trumpeting their unprecedented achievements, hardly a day passes now without a story of suicide or group suicide in today’s Ghana.

Husbands are wasting not only their own lives, but wantonly taking those of their wives and, sometimes, children. Wives are also killing their husbands and then murder themselves. School children are now into hanging themselves.

What is going on?

As though the personal tragedies are not enough, ethnic groups in the country are now resorting to primordial violence in quarrels with their neighbours.

Ethnic violence has flared up Nakpaduri in the Northern Region. It has destroyed lives and properties at Kpassa, in the Volta Region, at Ekumfi Narkwa in the Central Region and the latest hotspot was Hohoe, also in the Volta Region.

A coconut thief in the central region almost caused a major ethnic war between the Fantes and the Ewes.

Rather than dampen the tension, politicians, including the Regional Minister, did what they do best, engage in utterly useless blame game.

By the time, tension calmed, three people have lost their lives and properties destroyed.

We have barely recovered from that tragedy when Hoehoe erupted in communal violence as some Muslim youth clashed with their Gbi landlords, over a burial mishap.
By the time the security agents restored calm, people have been killed and several houses, including the chief’s palace, have been burnt.

What is going on?

Why are Ghanaians, people who tout themselves as peaceful, suddenly become so agitated and ready to visit violence on themselves and on other people?

Things are just not the way they used to be.

It’s like things have fallen apart in our dear republic.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
” – William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming.

A time there was when civility was the norm in our society and the very act of shouting on another human being is regarded as a huge taboo and heavily frowned upon.

Today, citizens behave as though one is in this life only to prove how masculine or macho one is.

It is all about me, me and me.

In today’s Ghana, there is little regard for other people’s rights or feelings and scanty regard for authority.

Driving on our roads nowadays has become very dangerous enterprise, as almost everyone drive by heart, as they say around here. Most people handling vehicles these days think that traffic rules and regulations are mere suggestions. At the first sign of traffic hold up, people abandon all sanity and start to do their own thing. Gone are the days when driving on the wrong side of the road was considered a barbaric thing to do. Today, you are considered a big fool if you decide to follow a slow moving traffic.

Also gone are the days when only ambulances, fire trucks and high government officials blare sirens, nowadays, anyone in uniform, or anyone driving a big, four-wheel vehicle, believe himself entitled to special road consideration.

When, indeed, did we get things so spectacularly wrong? When did we become such a lawless and ill-disciplined society?

If the behaviour of our people is abhorrent, equally distasteful is the behaviour of our officials who looked on unconcerned as things spiraled out of control.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I know of no civilization that was not built on strict discipline and strong adherence to laid down rules and regulations.

Ok, Ok, we live in democracy and all that. I also didn’t forget that our country’s motto is: “Freedom and Justice.”

But methinks that we are taking this freedom thing too far. And if we don’t check ourselves, we are heeding into serious perdition.

What, however, is far more disappointing and troubling is the deafening silence of the president.

For Christ sake, the president is our country’s chief executive. He is also the father of the whole nation. It is to him we look up to for leadership, support, direction and for succour.

I cannot think of more important thing that should occupy our president’s time and mind than the peace, security and general well-being of our nation and of its people.

It is only when people feel secured that they worry about any other thing, including food. The man running away with his family will think of only one thing: security. The family escaping communal violence is pre-occupied only with saving their lives.

I am one of those that wish President Mills well and had hoped that he will prove his critics, including his mentor, President JJ Rawlings, wrong by providing quality leadership for the nation and thereby prove his mettle.

Readers of this column will remember that I castigated President Rawlings, a man I admire enormously and rate as one of the greatest African leaders, for his incessant criticism of his successor.

Today, it looks as though former President was more far-sighted than I and many who failed to see his prescience.

We then have those that argued that the president does not need to go everywhere since he has people charged with assisting him. Proponents of this line of thought include deputy information minister, Okudzeto Ablakwa.

I find this line of argument totally imbecilic.

Of course, we have officials at every level of government, but none of them put himself forward as a presidential candidate to canvass for our votes. We did not vote for the National Security Coordinator. Neither did we vote for regional ministers.

And of course, we have other members of family, but it is to the father we all look up to provide security. We expect our fathers to be there for us when we are in distress and need him.

Of course, presidents cannot be everywhere at all times and we did not ask them to. It is only in emergency situations that we expect our president to rise up to the occasion, show his face and, by his very presence, give us succor and show us that he cares.

People ought not to forget that we did not beg him, the president came on his own accord and begged to lead us. He was the one who claimed to have answers to our problems.

If Ghanaians are dying, from whatever cause, and the president sits at his palace, say nothing, do nothing to show that he cares, why exactly do we need to have a president? What is the need to have a president that is unwilling or unable to share our plights and give us comfort? What point is there in having a president who is totally absent and invisible when the situation in our dear land calls for urgent and decisive leadership?

And why did the president have time to receive IMF delegation but cannot find the time to go and comfort Ghanaians in distress?

When Americans elected Ronald Reagan, an elderly, grade B movie actor as their president, they did not expect him to solve all their problems.

It is on record that the man slept through most of his presidency, but when critical situations arose, Reagan was there to make impressive speeches that make Americans feel good about themselves. Reagan’s brand of economics (Reaganomics) bankrupted his country, but he successfully sold it to his people with well-crafted speeches and winning smiles.

The battle for the mind of Ronald Reagan was like the trench warfare of World War I: never have so many fought so hard for such barren terrain.” – Peggy Noonan, special assistant and speech writer to Reagan, 1984-88.

Reagan the man was empty up there, but he got very competent speech writers to write speeches which he delivered flawlessly.

Americans love him enough to give him a second term.

Reagan won because he ran against Jimmy Carter. Had he run unopposed he would have lost.” – Mort Sahl

Almost totally absent-minded, Reagan, nevertheless, jocularly laughed his way through two terms (from January 20, 1981, to January 20, 1989). He was so adept at brushing off bad news that he made Americans forget their problems.

However bad things were, Reagan always exhorted Americans to “Win one for the Gipper (his favourite football hero).”

Sometimes … when you stand face to face with someone, you cannot see his face. (Following summit meeting with Ronald Reagan)” – Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev .

I am not privy to the inner workings of the Castle, Ghana’s presidential palace, but I repeat that the president’s men are doing him great disservice.

Are the palace jesters that surround President Mills unaware that elections are just five months away?

How, on earth, do they expect to sell their man to the Ghanaian people?

Or have they concluded that their gargantuan achievements are so monumental that grateful Ghanaian electorates are lining up to return him to power without even seeing his face!


About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and Correspondent for the New African magazine. Femi lives in both Europe and Africa, and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the CEO of Alaye Dot Biz Limited Dot Biz, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organisation that specialises in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

His highly-acclaimed books (“Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” “Africa: It shall be well,” “18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories” and “Ghana: Basic Facts + More”) are now available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

  1. Freedom Bookshop, near Apollo Theatre, Accra.
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  5. African Kitchen in Amsterdam Bijlmer

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Femi Akomolafe



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