Hello everybody! Been a while now. Things have happened. Big time. But alas, the state of affairs is such that I must reserve that for later. A much less invigorating subject is upon my mind this morning.
54 years of independence seems like such a wonderful thing, does it not? 54 solid years of self-rule, of the destiny of Ghanaians in the hands of Ghanaians. 54 years of rubbish! Yes, that’s what I said.
You see, I’m a pragmatist. People don’t know that. I’m accused of the highest and most practically incongruous forms of idealism, but I am a pragmatist. None of my ideas, however ideal they may appear to the conformist-to-the-status-quo mind, is truly idealistic. For example, I am doubtless that it should be possible for Adenta to enjoy a ten-year uninterrupted supply of water – uninterrupted by even a second! And some of you already think “Oh, how idealistic!”
But really? In my mind I have successfully made the abstraction between the ideal, which a pragmatist may pursue, obtain and sustain, and the idealistic, which the dreamer may enjoy upon his pillow or his lazy chair rocking by the beaches of Kokrobite. Most other people have not. I invite you to journey with me into the very netherland of that abstraction: into the realm in which, though not all is possible, all that is required, certainly is.
Forgive me if I have not hit the subject matter yet. I tend to appreciate the more philosophical introductions of my reading and follow glorious example with dilligence. But here we go.
You see, when Kwame Nkrumah said that we should be left to manage or mismanage our own affairs, he did not mean it, but it seems he was the only one who knew it! Sometimes we say things to get what we want. Nkrumah did not really believe for example, that it is a better situation to have intra-national genocide than colonial prosperity. He most certainly did not. And he didn’t prefer either a fifty year span of fourteen coups and attempted coups (as if we were chickens fighting over scanty grains on a sun-scorched floor) in a nation that had the world before it to impress. To say that he did is to call him a despot and a fool, neither of which assertion the history bears testimony to.
Everyone else has believed that corruption, as the means to enrich the real socially misfit among us, is the way to hasten business and lubricate bureaucracies. Everyone else has believed that the total absence of supervision in public institutions is the real hallmark of the freedom we fought to attain: No one breathing down our necks.
And some of us have believed that storming into the castle with guns and removing legitimate governments is a mature thing to do. You see, the best celebration of independence we can have, having behaved the way we have, and having abused the noble position of freedom, is to keep quiet on the 6th of March, think each one of us upon our pillows, weep each one upon our knees and pray each one for God’s forgiveness. Ghana has been raped by laziness, greed, military stupidity and political mendacity.
But then all that said, some people think there’s still hope. I disagree, but I’m a man who can give a dreamer the benefit of my doubt, and see what happens. I hope I’m wrong, I really do, and I do more to help the situation than the people killing this nation with their noncommittance and selfishness.
My response? Not when we’re educated the way we are. Only a small fraction of Ghanaians will be found possessing the skills required in the 21st Century. Only a few of our politicians will even string together a complete statement without desecrating the sanctity of grammar and wordage. When our teachers went on their single spine demonstrations and spoke into the cameras I wondered whether any of them was an English teacher. I should have said a prayer, in retrospect.
My response? Not when we have decided that we will hail Ghanaian ability and efficiency on the streets, in lecture halls, in the studios of radio stations and on the pages of poorly edited newspapers, but not in the offices of the ministries or the corridors of the seat of government. No, there it will be unanimous that the Ghanaian is useless, that he has no capacity for high end management, and that therefore our lighter skinned brothers and sisters are needed. Not when Chinese prisoners are flown in to build our stadia, and not when we spend a billion Cedis on tea and refreshments in order to change governments.
But my main beef, people, is with education. Think about it. Are you educated? How is your logic? How is your language? How much have you truly read, outside of handouts and photocopied political science volumes? Have you any Chinua Achebe in your head? Have you any Seneca? Any Confucius? Soyinka? Have you any Dalton? Newton? Hawking? Dawkins, for that matter? Paul? Mohammed? Have you any Euclid? Shakespeare?
But how’s your Facebook? Top notch, I’m sure. Your hiplife? You know all the latest tracks by heart! How’s your fashion?
Give me two hours, and I’ll be back.
I’m back. Had to go supervise a test. National service 🙂
So like I was saying, your nonessentials appear to be the most sharpened, the most developed and the most nurtured aspects of your life. Not that there’s anything wrong with arts and culture, but no nation is ever built on the unproductive pursuit of pleasures and enjoyable music, and 7 hours of Facebook chatting on office computers.
The nation needs top-notch skills and it needs them at work. It needs them developing groundbreaking software solutions, large and sustainable water supply systems, effecient and economical agricultural systems, environmentally friendly development paradigms, robust and confidence inspiring financial systems, innovative business solutions, stable reliable and accountable governance.
We need thinkers, people, and it saddens me to see our children in musical talent shows, our ladies in every pageant that can be named, organised and staged, our young men in morally repugnant music videos, and all the rest of us watching them and clapping our hands. And then next morning we call in on Joy FM or Peace or some other station and complain about the dissipating moral fabric of society.
It pains me to see the youth, whom apparently are the key to a much brighter future, engage in the stupidity of partisan polarisation in our institutions of higher learning (my foot), or sitting behind computers duping innocents abroad in concert supposedly with Mallams and juju men in the villages.
It pains me to see young, supposedly bright boys dance nude on the streets of universities because the women in the market are selling at exorbitant prices, and insulting the name of intellectualism by insisting on applying the attribute to themselves.
My friends, in this milieu of national rot, what pains me most of all is the fact that whenever, as rare as it is, we get a genuinely good example of how things ought to be, when in the passing of decades a process, a plan, a person, comes along with a positive revolution of thought and action, we greet them with our world renowned insults.
Ashesi College, par example, has introduced an above par educational model in Ghana. How many of these sixty, fifty, forty or thirty year – old Universities in Ghana have honour codes? How many of them have educated their students so well that even after one semester they can take examinations unsupervised but honestly? And yet how many people have lost personal, constitutionally granted freedoms because a public university is unable to ensure examination sanctity even with an army of invigilators?
But no. Our accreditation standards are too high to allow this kind of progress! We slap them with peremptory orders to conform to the rotten status quo, while the brightest and ‘bestest’ billionaires of the world fly in to have dinner with their students and find out how they succeed.
Well, this is how: they stopped being Ghanaian in the sense of our systemic laziness, trepidity and corruption. They suddenly became Ghanaian in the sense of a forward mindedness that we will do well to emulate.
My verdict, people, is that we have little, if any hope at all. Ghana is free for ever, but the thirst is horrible, much more the disease, and even worse the ignorance. I find the ignorance of graduates worse than that of the illiterate. I think that because of what is possible if the next generation will be educated anew, and what is impossible if they learn the rot that we call our present education.