Ghana: For the Love of Country

I recently read Boakye Glover’s The Justice, a Ghanaian political thriller. It was a definite page turner, fraught with action, suspense and action, courtesy of Caleb Osei, the novel’s hero and ‘blowman’.  The book – the central theme of which was the love of God, country and family – was released during an interesting time in Ghana’s history, for 2013 was the first time any election results had been challenged in court in the country’s fledgling democratic history. In the aftermath there was no bloodshed, no rioting in the streets; none of that stuff CNN sends planeloads of khaki clad journalists to cover with somber prose and patronizing glances for the camera.  The results were released and life went about as usual. Ghanaians had proven to the world, and more importantly to Africa, that we are matured in approach to governance and democracy.

But I wonder if we could take it several steps further?

With every passing year, I hear of more and more Ghanaians giving up their ‘spoils’ of toil in the West to re-emigrate back home. Many have declared the American Dream as dead, which I am wholeheartedly inclined to agree with. The pursuit of the American Dream is financed by crushing American Debt, which can take an entire generation to climb out of. Thirteen years after receiving my BA, I STILL owe thousands of dollars in student loans. There is roughly between $902 billion and $1 trillion in total outstanding student loan debt in the US today. It’s estimated that the average person owes $26,000 (not including interest) on their loans, which is a daunting amount stretched over 20 or so years. Most Americans barely recover, and the middle class is gradually but progressively shrinking. All the same, Americans hold tenacious hope and love for their country – an affection which is renowned throughout the world. It’s demonstrated in everything Americans do: from the way civil government is run, to the way they treat the environment and to how they celebrate their heroes.  I’m not saying America is perfect… not by any means. But I doubt any other country can boast a citizenry that LOVES its country as much as an American.

I long to see Ghanaians develop such a love for their country and heritage.

We often refer to Ghana as a Mother, assigning the country a feminine identity. If Ghana were an actual physical breathing woman, with thick thighs and ample breasts and full hair (you know, a proper woman) would we continue to treat her the way we do if we loved her? Would we dump trash on her, urinate on her whenever the feeling to ease ourselves came upon us and choke her with pollution? And when she wept, would her infuse her tears with petroleum waste and raw sewage? Would we reward her fealty to us by robbing her blind? Wouldn’t other men (or women) look at us with disgust and ask us why we were treating such a beautiful woman with so much promise and potential in this derogatory manner?

In real life, do you abuse someone you claim to love? Of course not.

Why should a Chinese man or an Irish man have more love for Ghana than a Ghanaian? Is she not for us? Of course she is.

And yet our politicians – who claim to ‘love’ and ‘serve’ Ghana –  rob our coffers daily for their own personal gain. Trash is thrown wantonly in the street, the stench of rich is made worse with a single tropical storm. Our police force, given the charge of serving and protecting rather defrauds and harasses citizenry with impunity. And worst of all, we’re forgetting Ghana’s glorious history, reveling in the fact that we raise children who can hardly utter a word in their local language and speak in undistinguishable foreign accents. Doing one’s National Service is not seen as an honor, but rather an abhorrent chore that is to be circumvented or made as inconvenient as possible, wherever possible. God forbid one should be sent to the arid North! Such is our contempt for our heritage that the busiest street in Accra, and certainly the center for high-end commerce is dubbed ‘Oxford Street’, mimicking a certain famous road with the same moniker in London. Is this how to love a woman? Is this how to love a country?

Now, do Americans litter, pollute, steal and destroy? Absolutely and almost daily. The difference is that for the love of their country, they have set up solutions to combat these problems.

  • Thieving politicians are made to pay for their corruption, whereas in Ghana, ours are left alone to wreak further havoc and encouraged to pilfer more.
  • American scientists and environmentalists are given funding for discovering solutions to its waste problems, whereas in Ghana, we have yet to entice our Western trained professionals to return home and develop the nation with their knowledge.
  • American children are being taught how to respect the environment and are made to understand what their personal impact on the globe is. Ghanaian children chew, pour, pass, forget and are not given tactile tools to creatively solve problems are even informed of what their own significance is as a student, other than to pass examinations.
  • Americans have safety rules and regulations for every product that is consumed in the country. Ghana imports inferior “Made for Africa” items from China, which are notoriously substandard and in many cases, dangerous.

I could go on of course, but the purpose of this post is not to gripe, but rather to point out that despite all Ghana’s foibles, there seems to be a crop of citizens – but Returnees and those who have never bothered to leave – determined to demonstrate a new love affair with Ghana. I’m encouraged by groups like the Green Ghanaian who are committed to repurposing our waste and ushering a new national consciousness surrounding the environment. The explorer in me leaps every time I see a post by Ghana’s Adventure Junkies, who encourage every Ghanaian to get out and see his/her country: Climb Mount Afadjato or brave the walkway at Kakum! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my BFFFL (and women of her ilk) who is committed to the cause of excellence in everything she does, from her MAKSI fashion label to championing the cause of women in every arena.

ghana flagThe pursuit of excellence is part of Africa’s glorious past. Somewhere along the line, probably in the midst of the brutalization meted out by the colonial powers and our own internal rivalries, Ghanaians were convinced of their own inferiority. The tide has steadily been reversing, but at this juncture in history it’s not time for gradualism. It’s time for an about face. You Ghana Man/ Ghana Wwoman: You’re probably reading this post on your iPhone or Android, a marvel of the 21st Century. The world is in the palm of hand. Don’t you think it’s time we achieved marvels of previous centuries, like reliable access to clean drinking water?

Loving our country a little better can certainly make that possible.