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Diaspora, Opinions

The American Vs Ghanaian Dream

More often, we hear the phrase “American Dream” which has been associated with progressiveness and enough economic forwardness for all Americans no matter where you are in America, your ethnicity, political affiliations, and ideology.

In the early 1900s when it was initiated and subsequently in the early 1930s when the phrase became popular, it spread amongst the populace and fastened to become a national rhetoric/ethos to polarize and declare forwardness amongst the people.

The American dream ceased to be just a meritorious phrase and extended to be an international outlook and representation that defined the great American experimentation:

(The believe of climbing up the ladder of success no matter how long/short it may be viewed).

It wasn’t a campaign promise, a mere populist agenda, a liberal emblem for/by the “upper class” but the surety of how every American was[is] going to be.

A political party couldn’t promise the American dream, a person couldn’t, an outright institution couldn’t but the American people did, collectively, and because of that, America is what it is today, a global superpower.

Overtime, the American dream gradually switched from a mere dream of prosperity into something else.

A historian by the name Adams Truslow James in 1931 declared these:

“Not a dream of mere prosperity, not a dream of motor cars and high wages but a dream of social order in which each person shall be able to attain innately what they are capable of and be recognized as such” [Ref: Prof Churchill]

What was the “Social order” Adams was proclaiming?

It was a sense of bound moral aptitude, characteristics and standards of the great American people.

The dream of mere riches brought a decline in the well-being of the populace and rather focused on the ruling class; where the rich, continued to gather its estates exempting their moral inclusiveness in fairness to the American people; It’s evident that familiarity breeds contempt and the dream of materialism was heavily prized over social values.

Was the American dream radicalized into sheer monopolized capitalism? Well, that’s something for another day.

The social order included the in-divisive representation of morals that are mutually accepted and upheld by the people.

Nonetheless, it’s certain, that the American dream adopted by the American people brought a sense of revolutionized transformation both economically and industrially—it brought change.

In a conversation with a friend, she said these;

“The people believe in the system chale,them dey do everything them fit do to improve am overtime. Them get vim say the system go make them blow and that be how it for dey. That be the American dream”

It’s very evident how the American dream is making aspirations come true and the utmost confidence people have in the system both internally and globally.

The American dream cut across all angles including Education, wages, political systems, law, Industrialization, and infrastructure.

The American education for instance, has been hailed as fulfilling, inclusive and progressive, which brings about great minds.

The industrialization of America brought about the production of automobiles, computerization and introduction of technology.

The attainment of a proper political system has furnished the image of America to be recognized as a nation that thrives in constitutionalism and democracy, and also has its political ideology and laws adopted by many countries although not perfect.

These show, that the great American Dream isn’t just a saying, attribute or phrase but a great ideology, strength and hope in the system transpired by the people, of the people, and for the people.

The Ghanaian Dream

“Countrymen, the task ahead is great indeed, and heavy is the responsibility; and yet is a noble and glorious challenge which calls for the courage to dream, the courage to believe, the courage to dare, the courage to do, the courage to envision, the courage to fight, the courage to work, the courage to achieve— to achieve the highest excellencies and the fullest greatness of man, Dare we ask for in life?”

These were the words of Dr Kwame Nkrumah in 1957 after he had become the first black man to help drive away the colonizers in Ghana.

In uncertain terms, I’d define the Ghanaian Dream as “An innate ideology of the Ghanaian people to dare achieve success through their abilities and capabilities“

The Ghanaian Dream I believe, begun when the Ghanaian people took control of the administration of the state. Until then, it was only a wish, a dream or an aspiration, that one day the Ghanaian people will control and administer affairs of their own.

The transition of Ghana hasn’t been a smooth one. From the era of the founding fathers, the touch of nationalism had always been lit and strong. The Ghanaian people aren’t weak, the Ghanaian people aren’t colloquial, but have innately, the idealism and ideology of the great Ghanaian Dream.

The wishes of the ordinary Ghanaian had always been known and portrayed either through dialogue, party manifestos, or through protests/demonstrations.

Many of which include;

  • Affordable and reliable health delivery system
  • Comprehensive improvement in basic and secondary educational system and opening up legal education
  • Curbing unemployment crisis
  • Proper and functional electoral reforms; amongst others.

Resolving these problems, especially when they’ve been in existence for decades isn’t just a day job by a person/party. However, much can be done by ruling governments to curb these.

We’re in a century where the population of the country would keenly keep rising and not depreciate, which would in-effect, put pressure on health care and other social amenities.

The health of the populace should be a foremost priority for governments since the health of people is the ultimate wealth of the country.

Hospitals still suffer the shortage of oxygenated tanks, beds and the decline of health professionals caused by delay in postings of nursing trainees and brain-drain.

These problems are known to all, and extensively used as political mandates/mantras by governments.

Many health care providers and professionals actively involved in brain-drain because they want to seek greener pastures elsewhere due to the deteriorating system we have, currently.

An article published by GhanaWeb, a renowned news source stated; Record number of skilled nurses and midwives leave Korle Bu for UK/other places.

I must say, past and successive governments have done well by initiating health facilities to curb these, but I believe we’re still stagnant in terms of health infrastructure because of the failure of successive governments to continue abandoned health projects commenced by their predecessors.

These numerous projects have been abandoned by successive governments because of either procurement breaches by past governments or difficulty in financing by successive governments.

Also, the poor salary structure of health workers makes it unattractive for persons to join the profession or stay to reduce brain drain.

Many argue the need for an improved comprehensive and quality educational structure to bring transformation to the current education system and I agree.

I believe every Ghanaian would agree our education system should be rebuilt if necessary or developed to meet international standards.

Meeting these criteria would create the opportunity for students to be carrier ready and resilient to withstands the storms of international competition.

How do we meet today’s era of education when basic and secondary schools lack the fundamentals of I.C.T training?

How do we improve computerization and digitalization in every sector when typical computerized training is only done in the tertiary stage?

I must commend the efforts of past governments to provide teaching and learning materials to schools to facilitate this vision and the commencement and continuity of the Free Senior High School program to include every child and collectively educate and train students in their preferred field of study by the current government. The commencement of free senior high school education eradicated the payment of fees which undoubtedly, prevented students from getting enrolled in school since they couldn’t pay their fees.

Previous governments commenced the building of various schools, and some have been left unattended to and abandoned.

The concentration of development for decades has been centered in the cities and the rural areas have been left with less.

Schools in rural communities lack desks, textbooks and even school buildings to facilitate education.

The issue of abandoning projects has deprived many of fundamental amenities to fasten development.

Intensive introduction of TVET training should be encouraged to students in high schools, especially those desire to pursue engineering in the university. This would equip them with the right practical skills needed and clear the misconception of “book longing without practical’s”.

The average Ghanaian in “fankyini bra,nyankpala,Yongwase, Ketebour, Asasehene ,sesiama” amongst others, need good drinking water, good roads, and accessibility to socioeconomic opportunities like proper education just like we have in the big cities.

“Needless to say, galvanizing resources for the attainment of the goal depends to a large extent on the vision and delivery of persons put in leadership positions “

These are the words of the current Education Minister.

Undoubtedly, that’s true and with the national interest of the people at heart, attaining resources for achieving these goals depends on the right man for the job.

Legal education is a great wealth for developing countries of which, Ghana is no exception.

The ability to fight and deliver justice depends on the ability of a country administer legal experts and build a system recognized as such.

Every day we hear cases of injustice and people deprived of legal assistance yet, people say;

“I will see you court”. Why? Because a great number of the populace believe in justice and in our judicial system.

According to Dennislaw, a renowned law database source, as of 2020 there are only 4 licensed lawyers in the upper West Region and the Upper East has a total of 14 while the northern regions (Northeast, Savannah, Northern) have 21.

So, the entire Northern Territory with a population size of 5,825,389 per latest Ghana Statistical Service data can boast of 39 licensed lawyers.

Per Dennislaw again, there are 3,213 lawyers as of June 2021. How can a country of 30,000,000 citizens run a country founded on rule of law with less than 4,000 lawyers?

This sheds light on how important Judges, lawyers and other key legal experts are needed.

Also, Procedural justice should be maintained and effectively adopted to administer justice instead of substantive justices adopted by law enforcement and other bodies not having the power to do so.

A country’s greatest development isn’t solely dependent on material infrastructure but the administration of key experts in each sector, and undoubtedly in the legal field.

These amongst other ways, can help pioneer our judicial system to deliver justice and maintain the rule of law.

The youth must take up the mantle and set up their own businesses— that’s the only way to reduce unemployment, Hey say. True, but how can businesses be set up when the main criteria—capital is hard to get.

Many Ghanaians would Iove to setup their own businesses and employ people but the acquisition of capital to commence becomes a problem.

Hence, rely on the government to create jobs.

Unfavorable procedures and conditions for loans from financial institutions makes many lose hope since you require a collateral or the terms to give out the loan is unfavorable. A recent poll I sighted online indicated that, 70% of Ghanaian would like to leave the country and undoubtedly, unemployment is the major cause.

The government can partner with financial institutions to create a scheme for startups where a grace period would be given to people who acquire loans to setup businesses. This grace-period would be excluded from the actual loan paying period to people should incase, there’s a collapse.

Right after you graduate from university, you commence your national service and after national service, one must go search for a job.

Many job requirements indicate at least “2years experience”

This deters many people from applying and even getting jobs after applying.

Why don’t we introduce a mandatory internship system in the universities where a students would be mandated to undergo at least 3months internship in his/her field of study until the student gets his 1year required experience.

Undergraduates undergo 4years study programs, each year comprises of 2 semesters.

At the end of each semester, if students are required to undergo 3months internship programs, within 4semesters students would have the needed 12months experience plus the compulsory national service program which would collectively add up to 2yrs experience.

This would make a lot of students qualify for jobs and would ease the level of unemployment. These would also prevent the trend of entry level jobs replaced/used as internships.

Politics and electoral reform is a very sensitive topic for many, but inevitably, it’s being part of us since 1471–the arrivals of the first Europeans. Even before the arrival of the European people, we had our own traditional politics headed by the royal family and renowned clans. The Akan traditional system for instance, was headed by the -Paramount chief, present day, President. The Omanhene as they are referred to, governed the populace, and owed no allegiance to any other power. His power of office was symbolized with stool, sword which were beloved to contain the spirit of the nation and was treated sacred.

  • Sub chiefs/Divisional chiefs
  • The queen mothers
  • Linguists
  • Council of Elders
  • Judiciary: At the highest level there’s a court which is presided over by the king who deals with major cases and served as a court of appeal for local courts while sub chiefs presided over local courts.

-Treasury; Present day Finance ministry, I suppose, was where revenue generated from court fines, taxes, royalties amongst others were kept.

This was how unique our pre-colonial political system was and at that time, was one of the strongest in West Africa. Traditional inclusiveness would strengthen our country and make decision making processes more effective.

Traditional rulers should be more inclusive in decision making processes and be given mandates to attain.

This would further decentralize and ensure collective growth amongst communities.

In sum, the Ghanaian Dream is possible, achievable, and not solely a mere meritorious phrase but the willingness of the Ghanaian people to dare achieve success.

By Anku Courage

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