Yvonne Nelson is a Ghanaian actress and a producer. Physically, she was built for modeling or volleyball. Academically, she could have been anything she wanted. Professionally, she chose to enter into the entertainment arena, and has worked towards it with such passion and dedication that she has earned the moniker of “celebrity”. Yvonne Nelson is now leading the charge for a May 16th 3dumsormuststop vigil and is now the voice of a “voiceless people”… but it ought not be so. Ghanaians should not need Yvonne Nelson to speak for us.
But we do.
We need Yvonne Nelson, Lydia Forson, Sarkodie, EFYA, Shatta Wale and any other individual with a platform and a regional/international presence to speak for us, because our own government has methodically and intentionally rendered us voiceless. They have stripped the people of their power and their voice for their own selfish gain, hoping that the elite and celebrity classes would be also so equally egocentrically driven that they would leave the masses to flounder and drown in our mess. The bloodsucking members of Ghana’s military leadership, parliament and eventual executive branch have taken Ghanaians for fools for almost 40 years in all that time, did not account for the fact that some of us may have been brought up with some national pride and would one day call them out for their misdeeds.
It started with One Simple Step. It continued with the Occupy Ghana marches. Today it is the #dumsormuststop vigil. Tomorrow, there will be another call to arms. Ghanaians will NOT stop until our government has delivered to us all that it has promised and all that is ours by right as a nation.
Ghana’s energy crisis is but one of many crises the country has to grapple with. We have a long standing employment crisis which has led to decades of Brain Drain. We still have a health crisis with a deficit of doctors in many specialized fields, including psychiatry and oncology. Ghana’s education system is churning out thousands of graduates every year with no critical thinking or reasoning skills. Many of them serve in public office. We have a series of environmental crises, compounded by poor city planning and management. The energy crisis has only gone further to compound all of these existing problems. We were not promised an attempt to keep a lid on a mashup of disasters by our leadership. We certainly were not promised a government that would create more problems for its people. Ghanaians were promised a fair, transparent, empathetic and efficient government and the bill has come due. The people have come to collect.
The (P)NDC has overseen the lion’s share of Ghana’s (under)development since Flight Lt JJ Rawlings unleashed his coup to end all coups in 1981. Ghana has been on an oscillating pendulum of hopeful progress and decline ever since. There was a plan to bring the country on par with its Asian counterparts Singapore and Malaysia called Vision 2020 which I wrote about here. (A copy of the document also exists online if you are curious about the details.)
The (P)NDC government anticipated population growth decades ago, and talked about a mixed approach to solving this foreseen problem to include wind, solar and nuclear energy. What the people got instead was daylight robbery. Our coffers were looted by officials with federal monies being deposited into Swiss accounts; our sugar, rubber, tomato processing and shoe making factories were decimated; our beaches which could rival any in the Caribbean for their beauty were fouled with human waste. When our brothers venture to sea, they haul back tin cans, diapers and bio-waste in their nets. This is in our food supply. Now Ghanaians MUST import basic lifestyle items like tomato paste, canned fish and toothpicks. But what’s worse, perishable food items (like frozen chicken) are held up in port for weeks and go rotten in freezers that cease operation when the lights go off. They are held up in port because the workers are not paid, and the only way to clear one’s items is to pay your way through the intentionally constructed labyrinth of bureaucracy that features an itching palm at every turn.
The NPP had 8 years to change the course of this tide, and in my opinion did not do enough to do so. Nevertheless, President Kufuor did a lot more for the country’s reputation in his two terms than any other leader besides Nkrumah. It is mind boggling what the Mills/Mahama combo has been able to undo in such a short time.
Ghanaians are scratching out a living. This is not what we were promised! We are literally under siege by those whose lifestyle our taxes and fealty finance. Every week, several times a week, the population is insulted by either the current president or some member of his cabinet. We are called “unsmart”. We are called “prostitutes”. We are told we are doing the dirty work of the opposition while our infants are dying in non-functioning incubators or our fathers gasp for last breaths because the hospital lifts do not work and the oxygen tanks are on the bottom floor. We are taunted to vote them out if we dare. Yentie obiaa…we don’t hear you, we don’t care.
In our culture, the worst thing you can call someone is a liar. As far as I know, there is no word in any of our vernacular for “maybe”. Our tradition mandates that either you do something or you don’t- and you certainly don’t make a promise that you have no means or intention of keeping. In other words, let your yes be “yes” and your no be “no”.
Ghanaians are angry, frustrated and feeling hopeless and it is President Mahama’s fault, no matter what his minions, sakawa boys and yakiri kubuus may say. Rhetorically, they ask: “So did dumsor start with President Mahama? Is he the one who brought it? Heh? Did Mahama cause dumsor?!?!”
What pseudo Socratic thinking.
No. He didn’t. We’ve had a power crisis since the 80’s. However, he ran and won his election on the premise and promise that he had the answers to solve the crisis. It was part of his manifesto. He made it a habit.
Now that Ghanaians are demanding that he keep his promise, his sycophants have charged us to come up with ideas, rather than criticize. One of Ghana’s most learned sons did just that, and offered to provide his services for free. Benjamin Dedjoe is the Chief Electrical Engineer for the US Army Corp of Engineers’ Arsenal division. He was rejected by the Ministry of Power and Energy and told that it was not expertise that was lacking, but rather “resources”.
A year later a Ghanaian delegation including a man wearing his wife’s coat went to Germany in search of their expertise to solve our problems. Until the Germans can solve our African created problems, the government wants us to conserve energy. How can one conserve something (s)he gets 30% access to?
This is why Ghanaians are angry. Our future is being sabotaged. Our past is being denigrated. The culprits responsible for this mayhem are lacking in both compassion and common sense, and the people are expected to be silent in the face of such abuse. We will not be.
I’m looking forward to the day with Yvonne Nelson and our celebrity core will not have to serve as the “voice of the people”. I look forward to the day when we get our power back. It is soon coming…I can feel it. In the meantime, we march, tweet, think and agitate with her.