General News, Opinions

Ghana and the ‘begging culture

By Dr. Kofi Effah

It is an interesting ‘culture’. Professionals and other workers who are paid for the work they do, beg people for money and gifts. The policeman may stop me on the road or at the Police barrier. When they notice the Ghana Medical Association sticker on my car, he will say: “Doctor, give me an injection.” He wants money. The orderly, field worker or cleaner in the department who is paid just like you to do the work wants you to give him or her money after cleaning the floor or aprons, sweeping the floor or washing the boots used to work.

The paid professional footballer meets a supporter of the team he plays for in town or even at the training grounds and asks the supporter for money. At the airport, a paid worker may ask you to ‘leave the Cedis you have with you with them’ at the departure lounge, or ask you to give some foreign money to them when you arrive.

When you see a group of field workers at work and you greet them, “Ayekoo!’ the response from them may be “Something for the boys?” While others may just try to laugh it off or brush this aside, it can be embarrassing and can put unnecessary pressure on people. I pity the politicians who need votes from these people and may have to find money for them at all cost or risk losing their votes in the next election to opponents who find ‘something for the boys’.

At Christmas, you find Christmas boxes in many institutions (including many public institutions) with workers in these institutions literally begging for money to be put in these Christmas boxes.
Then there are those who pass subtle comments when offering services that the clients must ‘show appreciation’ after they have done the work (which they are paid to do).
The list goes on and on.

What has brought us to this embarrassing situation where many people have to beg for money and gifts at places where they work and are paid?

Yes, times are hard, but we must have some dignity, and those in charge must set good examples and make those working under them understand that this ‘begging culture’ is unacceptable.

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