So here we are my fellow Ghanaians. Is this our kismet? After more than 25 years of the 4th republic – democratic rule, 4 peaceful transition of power and 5 democratically elected Presidents, I have to say that I am angry. Not angry at the clear lack of progress in the way Ghana is run; that’s more of a sadness. But angry at all the things that have been left unfixed or that have gotten worse since Ghana ended military rule 27 years ago, despite all the early promise of a better future for the new democratic Ghana.
I am angry that the word “politician” has become synonymous with “liar” due to successive elected representatives breaking their election pledges and our hopes so that even when our societies are in a mess, scads of people just don’t bother to vote, believing it won’t make any difference. Angry that no one wishes to be accountable for our societies and country but everyone is willing to debate about politics. Angry that our Government has so obviously lost all sense of compassion and charges on average a 12 percent VAT applied across board on basic food products as well as a 15 percent NHIL on VAT-exclusive selling price of goods, which hits the poorest households particularly hard because the poor pay more tax on basic items such as food than the rich, relative to their annual earnings. Angry that these misery-inducing, poverty-aggravating and aspiration-killing decisions are made mostly by rich individuals who persist in telling us that we are in this together.
I am angry that there is so little outcry about the state of our parliament. A Parliament that has demonstrated time and time again that it cares only about its interest and not that of the country. We have and continue to see a Parliament that has surrendered completely to the whips of the Executive and members of Parliament who continuously tow and vote along party lines to make their party leaders happy, thereby resulting in the approval of dodgy deals, pointless loans, profligate government spending and superfluous benefit payments in the form of fat salaries and Ex-gratia, which has caused our good country and hardworking people huge financial losses over the years. Ghana’s Parliament is weak and seems to have seized being independent since 1992.
Angry that our judicial system is unfair and littered with judges who swing the pendulum of justice in the direction where their bread is heavily buttered, thereby often allowing the wealthy and guilty to escape the hands of justice but leaving the poor and innocent to suffer at the hands of injustice. So cruddy is the general state of law enforcement that law enforcement officers play to the gallery and free culprits who can grease their palms. Tragic and unacceptable. We deserve better.
Angry that our media has fallen into a state of uselessness where gossip and controversy are so much more newsworthy than real news nowadays. Our media has now consigned itself to discussions of false sensational stories, flooding the consciousness of millions of Ghanaians with a slew of sparsely substantiated speculations and stories, contra to the reportage of the much-needed news and facts that people need to know. This is a frightening prospect if the media are supposed to be the safeguards of our democracy.
I am angry that we have let things get beyond the pale. We have become a country and people whose first instinct is to point fingers at others for our failures and no longer rationalize or try to understand what another is saying or doing. Over the past years, we have slowly but surely been tumbling deeper and deeper into a culture of anger and distrust where using labels and stereotypes, freely apportion guilt or innocence and insulting each other has become the norm; and always feeling justified in our actions, because someone else did this, that, or the other. Wherefore, we no longer engage with others constructively. Some people will say all of this is sanctimonious. Tough. It also happens to be true. Anger is not all that I feel right now, by any means, but it’s a good start.
I am angry that our education sector has doomed students and teachers alike to mediocrity and misery. The grim circumstance our education sector is in at the moment isn’t the fault of one political party or president. It is the result of the catastrophic management of the sector by the NDC as much as the NPP regimes, who without regard to quality, only looked to increase the number of students just to gasconade. We fell in turn for Rawlings, Kufour, Atta Mills/Mahama and Akuffo Addo, like dazed new lovers, and were let down every time.
I am angry that healthcare services currently in the country lack the requisite structures to provide access to everyone in the country and the existing structures fall woefully short of meeting desired health outcomes. I am angry that it has come to this; that we live in a sick, qualmish society, after all the fine talk about delivering health care to the most vulnerable. It’s inhumane.
Angry that in the lifetime of the 4th republic we went from being a country that was proud of and supported its cultural institutions to a country that is ignorant and disapproves of its cultural institutions. Everyone understands that globalization happened but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be learning about and building up our cultural institutions. The Ghanaian culture should be at the core of what we do as a nation. It should permeate our societies, our very being as a nation; our minds and, most importantly, our hearts.
I am angry that even in the spirit of the beautiful game (soccer) that unites, Ghanaians managed to divide the men’s national team into “we” (the Dede Ayew people) and “them” (the Asamoah Gyan people) during the preparation for the 2019 African Cup of Nations. Thereby, eventuating in the poor performance of the team at the tournament. Our country is sinking and it’s sinking very fast.
You may also have your reasons to be angry, I am sure. This is personal, but I know that young Ghanaians like me are angry that successive governments have allowed a rumpled situation to develop where a whole generation, in tune with modern trends of globalization, technocratic in nature, erudite and full of life can no longer afford to secure a first-time job. Yeah, an entire generation left bedazzled.
I am proud that Ghana has made some progress on extreme poverty and that at least MDG goal 1 was met. As a nation, we have done so much successfully in the past to combat poverty. But I am angry that a significant portion of the Ghanaian populace still lives in poverty anyway, and that the people in the regions up north of the country make up the largest number of poor people. Behemothic letdown of our system.
But I have to be honest, though. All this anger is grueling. And it’s not enough. I have to turn away and look for something more positive, in other to go on. There has been so much to celebrate in our 4th republic. Successive peaceful elections, for example, which we take almost for granted now. The 2008 African Cup of Nations was a brief but dazzling taste of the kind of delightful, inclusive and dauntless place Ghana could be. There have been great advances in our understanding of the world around us – which is seen in the conduct of the increasingly self-aware Ghanaian youth. We now consciously celebrate the best of us – the kindest, most generous, most courageous and the most determined among us.
I have heard of so many inspiring young people and their stories. One of my favourites is a story I read on some other day about a lady called Ms. Kena-Asiedu, a 25-year old University of Ghana graduate and entrepreneur whose company RAMAPLAST uses plastic waste to produce quality bag packs for students. Ms. Kena-Asiedu observed that plastic waste over the years swallowed up entire communities and left people and places in ruins, consequently, she decided to take action. Today, RAMAPLAST is expected to provide over 20,000 jobs and projected to supply 716,300 students with bags made from plastic waste by 2023. Extraordinary.
We all have to find ways to keep going and taking action like Ms. Kena-Asiedu. Ways of turning our anger at all the appalling things happening in the country into a positive energy. Ways to keep believing in and working for fairness and progress. We have to keep demanding more of ourselves, our representatives and refusing no for an answer. We have to keep telling the world about Ghana and things that makes us unique. That’s what I try to do. I keep getting angry, keep fighting and keep celebrating. What else can I do?
Nana Kwaku M Asamoah