Ghana @ 53: Enough about Nkrumah, Let's Talk About YOU
Kwame Nkrumah, the Big Six, and all those other valiant Ghanaian men and women who have done more than their part in Ghana's development. We've lauded their deserving work for over 50 years. But guess what? It's a new decade, and whether or not we have things to celebrate in Ghana's future now depends on us. YOU and I. Each one of US. So yes, I went there. And guess what? I'm only getting started on the "ridiculousness".
The Soul's Reckoning: What Are YOU Waiting For?
In J.S.S., during Religious & Moral Education (RME), I remember learning about the perceptions of Ghana's different ethnic groups concerning the soul or how human beings enter the physical world. I cannot remember which Southern group exactly, but one of them believes that God calls a soul before him and tells it about all its strengths, weaknesses, talents, faults and everything it will do - its ultimate aim - once it gets to the physical world. The soul then has the option of accepting the package and joining the physical world (being born) or not.
If I'm going by this traditional Ghanaian theory, each one of us who are Ghanaians or who have strong links to Ghana, "chose" this nationality. If that statement is too outward for some of you, how about this:
God, the universe - whatever/whoever you believe in - is not an entity of mere coincidence. The very formation of the universe shows that there is a plan, some meaning, to everything. I like to think that my being a Ghanaian/African, Dagomba, Muslim Woman is not by mere coincidence, but by God's design. And the very set of skills, weaknesses, family, experiences and so on, that I have, are in order to allow me make the largest contribution to humanity as I possibly can.
Still a little out there? How about this:
"Judge not the karmic path walked by another. Envy not success, nor pity failure, for you know not what is success or failure in the soul’s reckoning." - Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God
Allow me to break it down for you:
- You are what (Ghanaian) or where (Ghana) you are, because you have a purpose you need to fulfill.
- Each one of us has a different contribution to make to Ghana. And while on the surface it might seem impossible - eg, you're poor, no family support, you're differently-abled, you don't have 'connections' etc - you have been handed your set of skills, situations, etc, because you CAN fulfill that mission. Your soul determined the level of difficulty for this particular course a long time ago, and God will never give you more than you can handle anyway.
- While you might occasionally be impressed or overwhelmed by another's progress or state of affairs, you shouldn't use them as a yardstick for determining your own progress.
Wake Up Call
So, it's time. Time to quit resting on past laurels and time to chart our own courses. Time to call upon the talents that God has given each one of us. Yes, you too! Not to be cliche, but for real, in this day and age, many of the excuses we use to supplant our reluctance or pure laziness and negligence no longer count. Obama is president, get that? He did this with a single mother. He wasn't the richest kid out there. Just hardworking, hopeful and willing to learn.
Put Obama aside. Nkrumah. And I know I said to forget about Nkrumah too. But what I meant by that was, let's not make Independence Day solely about Nkrumah and the Big Six. It's about all of us. Most of us young ones probably cannot imagine what it was like living during colonial times. But this man rose to the occasion and did what he could for his country. Am I missing something here, or wasn't he as human as any of us are? And he probably faced more challenges than we currently do. Please, no more excuses.
Ok, big shots aside. Ghanaians are amazing people. The wealth of knowledge and talent out there is simply staggering. I feel so blessed to have encountered and interacted with so many Ghanaians - or people interested in Ghana - who are doing amazing things!!! Many have been featured right here on Circumspect. To all of you Ghanaians trying to not only make a living, but make a difference, I salute you! Your work might not be recognized, but you're part of the wind of change helping put Ghana on the right track
From my work as a journalist, I have realized that many of today's leaders started out like you and I, without a penny to their name (unless they had a trust fund bequeathed to them). Take the Ecobank CEO for instance. I recently interviewed him for work and it's just amazing how this success story came out. They set up a private bank when havoc was being wrecked by the structural adjustment programs- meaning high levels of poverty - and when the industry was dominated by government and foreign banks. [Read interview here] So please, no more excuses.
Where's The Love?
I don't know about you guys, but I absolutely love Ghana. Whether we're scoring goals or not, I wouldn't miss a heartbeat to declare that love. Sure, I'm critical of our policies and of things going on in the country, but it's only because I care and because I believe we have so much more potential than we're making use of.
Now, what saddens me, is when I try to demonstrate that love and it's like "Wow, you're all about Ghana aren't you?" From a Ghanaian. Yes, I love my country and so should you. If - God forbid - a war were to break out across the globe, the only country that would accept you is your motherland Ghana. Real talk.
We can try to copy the Americans, British, French etc, but think about this: When natural disasters or wars break out and those governments are airlifting people from danger zones, they airlift their citizens, not people who are aspiring to look, talk or dress like them. It's about time we redirected our efforts towards growing our country's potential. Nobody else will do it!
I think there needs to be an infusion of patriotism back into Ghana. There's too much ethnocentrism and not enough Ghanaian. So, as we go about celebrating Ghana's 53, and remembering Nkrumah and the Big Six, please spare a thought for yourself.
What are you doing to advance Ghana? Why won't you accept that National Service post outside of Accra or Kumasi? Why won't you return home to help the motherland? Why won't you pick up that rubbish on the street?
Who should if you won't?
Let's reignite that love. I believe in Ghana so much and regardless of how tough it gets, we are Ghanaians for a purpose.
Here's my adaptation of Pastor Martin Niemoller's poem "First they came..."
First they came for the poor Ghanaians
and I did not speak out -
because I was not poor.
Then they came for the illiterate Ghanaians
and I did not speak out-
because I was not uneducated.
Then they came for the marginalized Ghanaian populations
and I did not speak out-
because I was part of the ruling class
Finally, they came for me-
And there was no other Ghanaian left to speak out for me.
We're all in this thing together. And unless we all play our part, we're going nowhere fast. Happy Independence Day and God Bless Ghana!