By Michael J.K. Bokor
Folks, much water has passed under the bridge since Ghana emerged from the ashes of the Gold Coast at independence on Thursday, March 6, 1957, with a national identity encapsulated in a national flag, anthem, and political rhetoric highlighting the entrenchment of the “black man” in positions hitherto occupied by representatives of the British colonial enterprise. As Nkrumah put it, everything had been done to prove that “the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.”
Since then, the “black man” has occupied the shell of political office but not proved that what the white colonial masters couldn’t do to improve the lot of his people, he can do. Problems making it difficult for Ghanaians to live their lives have remained insoluble; and they are even being worsened each passing day. Pan in hand, the “black man is chasing the white man around the globe for redemption. Did we come or did we go?
Over the years, much has happened to challenge this political rhetoric of independence. In our contemporary political era (this 4th Republic), the challenges are really life-threatening. They have proved to be insurmountable and are steadily pushing the country toward the precipice of self-destruction. You shouldn’t be surprised at the spate of street demonstrations!!
The pattern of “dog-eat-dog” that was set at independence (or even before it) still exists, especially in national politics spearheaded by civilians. The precursor is not difficult to fathom: the needlessly bitter enmity between the conservative politicians (UGCC and NLM/UP and the so-called radical CPP’s “Verandah Boys”) set the stage for what would happen on February 24, 1966, to bring on board the military and police elements to complicate and worsen matters.
And they didn’t come on board all by themselves. They were heavily supported and manipulated by foreign interests threatened by the Nkrumah phenomenon. Once the iron was struck while hot, we should expect the specks flying about to do damage to national interests. So has it been ever since. One step forward, ten steps backwards!!
Anybody interested in plotting all that has been happening in Ghana since then should not be surprised at findings to prove that despite all the massive natural and human resources available to it, Ghana is still not out of the woods and cannot get out for as long as the “dog-eat-dog” situation persists. Intriguingly, this situation cannot be changed because its proponents have put in place a well-oiled machine to sustain it.
What we see happening in our contemporary period is the direct outcome of the machinations by those who know what is at stake and are heavily invested in the politics of deception that sustains their agenda of self-actualization. The collective interest died long ago.
That is why the various governments haven’t deemed it necessary to solve problems that negatively affect the lives of the vast majority of Ghanaians. That is why we still have massive poverty despite the over-abundance of resources that most countries of the world envy.
Folks, let us not deceive ourselves. Governance in Ghana isn’t designed to solve problems to ease the burden on the millions of Ghanaians not lucky enough to have any foothold in the corridors of power. It is the preserve of those whose bread has already been buttered for them (or whose nut has been cracked by the gods, as the late Chinua Achebe would put it).
If you doubt it, take a good look at our crop of politicians. Most are the products of political traditions in which their fathers or mothers participated or the beneficiaries of the niche carved by names to which they cling.
Be it President Mahama or the NPP’s Akufo-Addo, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey or just anybody today basking in the past glory of a forebear, the truth emerges that those who have no backing from the established “big names” will remain at the fringes. You shouldn’t wonder why the NPP’s prof. Mike Ocquaye has paved the way for his son. And there are many of them to cite!!
I am very much worried that Ghana’s independence is really no independence, after all. What sort of independence will not make the citizens benefit from the resources of their country to live their lives in decency? The British colonial enterprise might have lost grounds to the nationalists, but the truth remains that nothing from those nationalists is meant to solve problems that would make the citizens of a liberated Ghana enjoy the fruit of their labour. It is all a sham and a shameful manouevre to bring Ghanaians further down to their knees!! And that is where they are today.
Those perpetrating the shameful act are not limited to any particular political front. They act as they choose to, which is why they are all over the place, scratching each other’s back in secret, yet coming out in the open to launch verbal attacks anyhow to throw dust into the eyes of the unsuspecting gullible citizens inoculated with political hemlock. That is what Ghanaian politicians do. And that is what the citizens need to know so they can guard against being used as pawns to foment trouble.
Happenings over the past few months indicate that there is much tension at the political front, which tension is the desired apparatus of the wily politicians. Will Ghanaians ever wake up to the reality that they cannot trust their politicians to solve their problems of existence? I wonder.
The truth be told, we can say that all that is happening under this Mahama-led administration—and all the street demonstrations being organized by political opponents—are intricate parts of the problems that have made it difficult for our country to be developed. Those in charge of affairs and those opposed to their modus operandi are on the same page. They know what they are about because they are bound together by one common overarching ambition to knock heads against each other and slip through to make hay while the sun shines. Shameless opportunists!!
Against this background, what is there to celebrate on this Independence Day? What will be there to celebrate in subsequent years too? What has even ever changed since Thursday, March 6, 1957, to warrant the celebration of this independence?
Unfortunately, the Ghanaian has been “numbed” into seeing ceremonial occasions of this sort as a mark of progress (whatever “progress” means). School children and members of the security services will be brought together on the occasion to demonstrate skills that won’t add anything to what is already in place. They will be marshalled to put up displays that won’t add value to their lives but that have to be enacted because they revere the “Yes Sir” regimen and fear being punished for asserting otherwise. That is our lot. Life must go on, even as “Yes Sir, Yes Sir no spoil work” undermines integrity.
In truth, folks, what we in Ghana celebrate annually as an “independence day” is a sad reflection of our inadequacies, limitations, and self-destructive tendencies. It is saddening to reflect on; and I wish that on this particular occasion this year, Ghanaians will be bold enough to make their voices heard. I wish that they will refuse to participate in the celebration to register their disgust at the manner in which national affairs have been handled over the years. It is not a matter of the NDC versus the NPP or any other political party. It is a collective issue embracing Ghana as one entity: one nation, one people, one common destiny (The sordid ethnocentric utterances of the NPP’s Yaw Osafo-Maafo and the lopsided demonstration against him by politically motivated activists, notwithstanding!!)
Such a move will send a better message than the political decisions to be made on Election Day or the useless negative politics being done by the NPP and its Minority side in Parliament, especially in our case where the old wine bottle is always available to be filled with new wine that is itself quickly contaminated. What will an Akufo-Addo-led NPP do that we haven’t already seen before in previous administrations or in this Mahama-led one? The problem goes beyond this useless game of musical chairs!!
When countries celebrate their “independence Day”, they do not only recall the “mishap” of colonization. They go beyond what happened under colonization to highlight what has been achieved since throwing off the colonial yoke. And that reference to accomplishments after colonialism spurs the citizens on to further action to improve their lot. Is that what we in Ghana do? What is there to prove that we have better times in self-government than under colonialism? Only the wolves in sheep’s clothing to point to as evidence of our being “free”? What is the difference, then?
Mind you, I am not instigating anarchy; but I am bent on urging Ghanaians to stand up and demand that whatever principles motivated the struggle for independence will be followed to make living conditions better. That is all life is about.
If it is possible, the celebration of this year’s Independence Day should be taken beyond the ceremonial parading of “marching” skills or official pronouncements that irritate more than inspire.
It should be an occasion for serious reflection by the citizens wherever they may be (whether in groups or in their closets as individuals) on what has happened over the years and what must be done to ensure that the fight for independence is not in vain. Something has to be done to turn political independence into economic boom for the citizens to live their lives in decency. After all, there is nothing in the grave but heat to speed up the rotting of the human body!!
Political independence will remain a useless hollow slogan until and unless it is translated into practical action to solve existential problems and to prove to the citizens that their decision to throw away the colonial yoke is worthwhile. If you can’t come to this conclusion, there must be something seriously wrong with you, especially if you consider the impact of the brain drain phenomenon. And is that what independence should lead us to? Too bad for us in Ghana.
In this sense, then, one will suggest that those in positions of trust should be taken to task to redeem the situation and to re-assure Ghanaians that they are capable of solving problems. Until—and unless they do so—this kind of ceremonial “marching parade” will continue to be used as the smokescreen by those bent on exploiting the system to advantage. I have had my say and won’t regret for doing so. How about you, folks?
Photo credit: Oluniyi Ajao