How Ghana’s Official 59th Independence Day Brochure Became the Perfect Simile for the State of the Nation

Many people are beginning to suspect that this current government – and indeed anyone that does business with this government – finds perverse pleasure in embarrassing the nation. It seems as though Ghanaians hardly have the opportunity to recover from one local scandal or international disgrace before the next one besieges us.

As a collective, we’ve managed to take it in stride. We’ve found ways to turn our tragedy into humor; to laugh at our dismal situations to keep from crying. We’ve turned our pain into art and then used that art as a sepulcher for our hopes, praying that one day a Chinese Jesus Christ will find it in his heart to resurrect the vision of our forefathers, reverse the tide of our misfortunes with his mighty Yuan and make Ghana great again. Instinctively, we know that the ordinary Ghanaian cannot possibly hope to affect change for him/herself or the country because an obdurate political elite goatishly refuses to clear the barriers that would allow every citizen to work towards greatness.

From our roads, to our utility deployment the proof is everywhere.

Why do our best footballers pay for foreign clubs? Why are so many skilled Ghanaian surgeons operating in hospitals in San Francisco, or Alberta, or London instead of Kintampo or Kumasi? Why is Abraham Attah being advised to carry his career to Hollywood if he wants to keep his successful momentum going? Why do people express (pleasant) shock that a sleek bunk bed could be manufactured and sold in Ghana? Because “Brand Ghana”, a term our sitting president fondly coined and uses at every opportunity, is ignominious at best. Long ago, the ancients pondered among themselves and asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Now Ghanaians must ask themselves the same thing about the ruling NDC.

It has to be said: this brochure has outdone all of their previous blunders and it cannot (and more importantly, should not) be forgiven.

Ghana is failing and the longer we deny this, the worse and faster these catastrophic social cancers will spread. We, who find ourselves among the privilege class must bear the blame for this and take responsibility for the vortex of ineptitude that the country is swirling in. We’ve left the asylum to the inmates for too long. If we don’t build a tractor beam and tether it to planned excellence, we are going to be forever engulfed in darkness with no way to swim out. There will be no bottom to hit and bounce back from/on to assist us. It is up to us, the ones with education, resources and connections to put those facilities to good use and to right the many wrongs of a self-serving and self-congratulating political aristocracy. And we have to be willing to work with the working poor and others without the benefit of elite access to reverse this unholy trend that we’re on.

When critics of the current establishment say that virtually everything that this government does is marked by a dereliction of duty, even on the smallest scale, they are branded as “opposition” or “enemies of progress”. But where is the progress that is so often touted actually seen, outside of the gallant individual efforts of enterprising citizens putting in 80 hours (or more) of work every week? Certainly not at the legislative, executive and/or municipal levels. All we see is meritocracy and mediocrity, daily. Thus, the 59th Independence brochure became a visible picture of the type of ineptitude in government that Ghanaians are forced to navigate and live with. It’s not unfair to ask whose barely literate MP’s side chick (or side boy, if reports are to be believed) was awarded the contract to proof and print these brochures?

As I said before, these mistakes are simply unforgivable; but more importantly, they reveal something more sinister: a blatant disregard for the pride and dignity of the nation as a whole. When the NDC (or NPP or any other party, for that matter) fails on this level, it’s not simply a dingy reflection on that political party, but on all who call themselves sons and daughters of Ghana. Just look at this.

12670924_10153981091062806_8145746878209954395_n

2044608807553_3516646691080

The entire document is a fiasco… Like someone threw rocks into a calabash, shook them around, and then fed the noise into Google Translate and printed the results.

8935405a-74b7-4748-8334-9730991eafda

 

In a comical attempt to cover the (frequent) failings of the now-exposed blemishes of the president’s communication team, some sycophants have regurgitated the old excuse that “English is not the Ghanaian’s first language” and that these painful blunders are therefore no big thing. And that’s all well and good…but can someone explain how Uhuru Kenyatta went from honored guest to president of the nation, according to this same document? This error has nothing to do with grammar or command of the English language!

12524134_10153980496582806_4895795566464326984_n

And then there is this nonsensical insistence on describing John Mahama as a “youthful” president.

12804603_10153981457172806_4208962798195380303_n

It was a moniker that won him favor with the under 40 crowd during his last campaign. He was painted as cool and hip, a picture of anti-establishment. He can’t rely on that image anymore, and it certainly has no place in a brochure touting 59 years of independence. This is not a Wisa concert. It’s time to build a new façade. The man has 18 kids, most of who were born out of wedlock. It would appear that more often than not, his youthful exuberance is more aggressively applied in the bedroom and not the boardroom where the nation needs most.

Still on the follies of youthful exuberance: Last week, President Mahama read a litany of manufactured accomplishments during the State of the Nation address. Fact checkers were quick to point out the many inconsistencies with what he read and the reality on the ground. Projects that were said to be in the works were mere exaggerations of the truth or non-existent, in some cases. Hyperbole was the order of the day, especially where the topic of access to quality education and healthcare were concerned. At the moment, expectant mothers across the nation either have to share beds or lie on the floor to give birth. Nurses have to leave their stations to fetch water in buckets across town because there are no flowing taps to their clinics. The list of structural ills is endless. So if by “youthful” leadership, we’re referring to a high school boy yobbing about his borrowed Converse while leaning against a rented car pretending to have ownership of either, then yeah… the descriptor applies. Oh, but how we wish this president would run the country like a BOSS MAN.

There’s so much more to be said about #Brochuregate and the many examples of how it is indicative of a general failure in attitude and execution of duty from those who hold responsibility for governing 27 million lives. Like the brochure, Ghana is pretty from a distance, but upon closer inspection, the shit is fucked up. You know what’s worse? Before I could finish typing this post, I came across this apology from the information services department. Look at this:

IMG_3048

Did you note the date?

Yeah. I know. Like…

“Dude, we knew back in JANUARY we were going to screw up. I just went ahead and wrote this letter fuh ya in advance. Cuz I be efficient lydat.”

…or he just didn’t proof read his own letter.

Do you now see how Ghana gets duped of billions of dollars in international contracts? Do you see how we ended up handling the care of two of the most dangerous prisoners in Gitmo (who suddenly became lambs after transfer to our shores)? You see why Monsanto and Big Pharma companies can swoop in and biologically terrorize our citizens? You see why every year, there is major flooding in our major cities, despite the falling of barely 3 inches of rain? Because qualified people aren’t being chosen to handle important, and in this brochure’s case, highly visible items on virtually every level.

The real tragedy is that there are more than a handful of professional and reputable editing organizations (Gird Centre being one of them) that could have handled this for the 59th celebrations of our independence. Why were they not contracted? Surely the printing budget included a line item for professional proofreading as well?

There are zoos that are better and more efficiently run than Ghana is being run right now. Is this the “Brand Ghana” image we are going to continue to export to the world?

It’s time to stop laughing – and trust me, I know that’s hard, given the fact that there are so many clowns showing up for work once a week and running this show.

President-Mahama

 

 

 

 

  • Seriously, they prepared a press release about the errors two months to the occasion? What mediocrity we have to live with! Smh

    • My sistah. This is not mediocrity. There is a level of ineptitude beneath that. Whatever the name of that state of being is is where we are!

      • I know, right? The fact that they knew beforehand and took no corrective measures against it makes it unpardonable. Someone must answer for that!

        • Either they knew beforehand or in a cruel twist of irony, also failed to proof his press release.

          Several people need to be fired. This is unacceptable. The rest of the country is being run with equal stupidity.

          • Hmm… Firing incompetent people seem to be too difficult a task for the government. The culprits just get reshuffled, no sanction whatsoever

          • Reshuffled and in some cases, promoted! We can’t carry on like this.

          • Surely we can’t but unfortunately we live in a country where the masses can’t decipher the ineptitude of the government to push for a change. Those of us who know better can complain as much as we want but at the end of the day, it’s the masses, the die-hard party fanatics who make the decision for all of us.

          • We have to figure out how to REACH them. If they saw the destruction for what it is, I believe they wouldn’t remain loyal. At some point, the need for survival has to kick in, and we can’t wait until the final minute. Even the nation destroyers know this.

          • Yeah, it should be a responsibility of all discerning citizens to educate the masses about this not just the opposition parties.

          • Sefakor

            This article is the best. Whoa. I cry for my Country. If his own people are denying him the presidency,so shall it be. Let us use our thumb to vote them out to save Ghana.

          • It must have been a typo. They reissued the exact same letter dated 7th March a few minutes later.

          • Kyei

            See your mistake also, are you trying to say proofread or what.

          • You are not serious.

          • Charles

            “The rest of the country is being run with equal stupidity”… I perfectly agree with you! We are in deep trouble as a nation

  • Ama

    I can’t stop crying.

    • We had such promise, Ama. We could’ve surpassed Brazil, China or Indonesia by now. We SHOULD have been a black star.

      • A black star. May be that should actually be looked at. I am a literal person and so figurative language or not, I try to be literal. I haven’t seen a black star yet, let alone a shining one. All stars are bright and we chose to be different and be the dark one so may be we are truly the black star that might never get polished to shine

        • You have a point. Stars are made of burning gas anyway and are either blue, red, white or gold.

          Maybe we should’ve opted for blue.

        • nashys

          u spoke my mind bro (@nmb44)

        • Brown Chief

          I share your thoughts on the black star. I think it is a poor symbol for hope. Stars must shine…and a black star is dead.

      • Bakkan Wirige

        Surpassed Brazil, China or Indonesia? Wee cannot even match our comparator Malaysia whose GDP per capita is $10600 whereas ours in $1400 and we dream of surpassing bigger economies? Part of our problem is indeed the inability to play in our league !

  • I feel so ashamed, I just want to bawl and never stop.

    • How did this happen??? “A rainbow at the end of the tunnel”?

      Who wrote the copy for this? Ayariga?

  • Nana Ama

    No one is in charge! We have: Information Services Dept; Ghana News Agency; Ministry of Information & Communications; National Media Commission; Office of the President… All this cacophony just to give jobs to the party’s boys and girls, never mind whether they are qualified to carry them out or not. Purposely designed by their foreign handlers for buck-passing, gratefully and unquestioningly accepted by the idiots! And the rest of us get plastered with shame as a result of the latter’s ineptitude!

  • Paul Drapson

    In as much as the mistakes made in the independence day brochure is unpardonable, I believe we must also sometimes be a bit fare to the government.
    We live in a country where the most incompetent and corrupt people are the technocrats. Go to DVLA, Passport Office, Registrar Generals department just to mention a few.
    If you know how are laws have been crafted you will know that one cannot easily fire a civil servant or a public servant.
    I believe we can do better than China, Brazil and so on but let us face the reality, a good number of Ghanaians have become so irresponsible.
    You go to our churches and you will discover how people leave empty water bottles and other waste materials, people throw refuse into our drains, people empty their refuse into the sea. Some even defecate in black polythene bags and drop them in the drains and some enen drop them in the sea.
    Go to places like lapaz and you will see how human beings have heaped refuse in the middle of the road and right by the refuse are people selling food. Why won’t we have people die out of cholera and when this happens we blame government. People build on water ways, why wont we experience flooding and when the houses built on water ways are pulled down government is in trouble. What at all should our goverments do.
    With all due respect, even if we make Jesus Christ the President of Ghana and we refuse to change our attitudes as a people we will go nowhere.
    I remember when I was in primary school, one of the lessons we studied in social studies had to do with rights. I remember very well that we were told that rights go hand in hand with responsibilities. Unfortunately a lot of people always talk about rights but fail to be responsible in the discharge of their duties and in their day to day activities.

    In as much as I perfectly agree that we must demand excellence and accountability from our governments, we also as citizens must bare in mind that we must be responsible.

    Our nation has become so polarised to the extent that if someone misconducts himself/herself or someone displays incompetence and is penalized we will quickly begin to read political meanings.

    It is unfortunate that today, what is wrong is seen to be right and what is right is seen to be wrong.

    May the good Lord help us as a people and a nation but I am still optimistic and hopeful that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Ghana will certain get there no matter what.
    Let us keep hope alive.

    • I’ve noted everything you said. Now let me ask you one question: How can people execute their responsibilities without the infrastructure to facilitate this?

      You talk of people defecating in polythene bags. Where are the public toilet facilities where people can ease themselves with dignity? You talk of people sweeping garbage into open drains. How often do rubbish collectors come by to pick up refuse? Are there regular routes for sanitation companies? There are things that local government is MANDATED TO SUPPLY in order for a country’s citizenry to carry out individual duties. The buck has to stop somewhere. You can’t complain about how the population conducts itself, yet fail to provide the tools needed to improve that behavior. That’s just ludicrous.

      I will agree with you that Ghana has an opportunity to improve itself, if only we will let go of this pride of “never experiencing civil war and therefore that makes us better than other African countries”. We’ve never had a war, yet we have all the negative markers of a war torn countries. Our rape rates rival Congo. Our sanitation is worse then Afghanistan. Our literacy rates are down the drain. We have little to be proud of, especially since we have this penchant for comparing ourselves with the worst in the class.

      Bottom line: there is no cooperation between the government and the citizenry. That’s what makes America great and has caused Japan to excel. Ghana? Not so much.

      • Winter

        Malaka, I do agree with you on almost what you have put up so but I beg to differ on your position on toilets. I dont think it is public toilets we need to deal with open defaecation. Mind you open defaecation and faecal matter stored in black polythene bags are not done by people who are visitors or strangers at places where such acts are committed. They are normally residents of such localities. Why cant they go to toilets in their respective homes? It’s because they do not have toilets in their homes. How on earth should a human being have a kitchen and a cooking pot in his/her home but should have no toilet? In my opinion this is where the buck stops.

    • Thessy

      You talked about being responsible citizens therefore I want to start right here with you. Your content was pretty long yet I noticed some grammatical blunders which I want to correct in case you’re in the position of those edited or proofread our independence day brochure in future, you wouldn’t make such mistakes as they did. The statement, “i believe we must sometimes be a bit fare to the government..” isn’t right. The word should be “fair” and not fare. Then again “we also citizens must bare in mind that…” is also not right. There right word should be “bear”. With these few corrections I hope I’ve performed some responsibility as citizen and you’ll do likewise by learning from it.

    • PK

      A big AMEN to your prayer!!! “God bless or homeland Ghana. And make our nation great and strong!!”
      Thus prayer will be answered, no matter how long it takes and regardless what the naysayers say! My 2 cents…

    • daakye

      In a country like the Uk, the person in charge wouldn’t have waited to be fired but would have graciously accepted responsibility and walked out of office because this is first and foremost a disgrace to him and his education.
      But as you rightfully pointed out there’s blatant disregard for not just law but ordinary human decency. Everybody is trying to exploit one situation or the other. Should the government not trust people to do their work? The director is just hopelessly incompetent, just sack him and let’s move on. Politicizing the issue won’t put food our tables.

  • Sunu Doe

    Paul Drapson, this is not an issue of a responsible people but a leader who is not working. I thought you said he was working for us? I keep reminding you and like the seminars you run, the responsibility lies with the boss, the one leading to make sure things get done and if our president is happy that he is fixing basic things we do not have to demand then there is a big problem. Malaka just sums up the state of our nation and his conclusions are apt. To add up to his many examples, the state of our nation is epitomized by the ‘trucking’ of journalist to get a better view of the parade. May be our leader should note that, may be we also need to be trucked to see all the developements he claims to be fixing because if truely it was being done, there wouls be no need to show evidence because we will already be experiencing it. The state of our nation is that, we need to be elevated to see development qnr that is not good enough. I have a feeling CHANGE IS COMING, like the green book, ITS ALREADY HAPPENING…. Just watch how bad our image is…

  • Paul Rainmaker

    Ala this post, the score now stands at Stan Dogbe 0 : Malaka 2. At this rate, a TKO is inevitable.
    I enjoyed your post very much and wouldn’t wish to add or take anything away from it. A mature piece of write-up that wholesomely expresses what ought to be said of the goings on in our motherland. I wish though, that you would confirm your voter registration and be available on November 7 when the polls open.

  • Reblogged this on Hanif.

  • Erskine Sam

    It’s worrying to see such gaffes at an event that was supposed to tout Ghana’s “growth” after independence and help sell the Country to investors to help grow the gdp of the Nation. This, unfortunately details the level of mediocrity the Nation’s descended into especially under this current President and Government. I’d want to have faith in Pres. Mahama and his team again but we need to see positive turnover in (re)actions. He can stop the public show of trickery he’s trying to employ on Ghanaians and concentrate on hitting the ground running to stay in tune to his campaign promise of “working for you” instead of his family members and friends largely benefitting from being handed contracts to do whatever and which results we can’t see in the everyday lives of Ghanaians. Whilst I agree that we can’t push everything on the Government to do, they’re the supposed to be the solution finders for whatever problems that the nation and its populace face, after all that explains the reason why we pay taxes – to help keep the nation habitable, whilst projecting the name of the Country to the rest of the World. I can go on and on but unfortunately I will then be branded as being a member of another party forgetting that as a Ghanaian I have it within my rights to point out the wrongs of whoever is given the mandate to run the Country.

    • Did I mention how brilliant you are? This might be a duplicate comment, but I don’t care. You’re magnificent!

  • A youthful leadership is bad enough (I think it implies that his presidency is still in its infancy – not yet of age). But a “youthfull” leadership? I. Can’t.

  • Ephy

    Whoa! Tell us how u really feel! Virtual high five! As a Ghanaian and a writer/editor, brochuregate hurt me to the core. Thanks for writing such an eloquent’ well-thought-out piece for those of us stunned into silence.

  • nashys

    An elderly man in my office once said the Black Race is a curse race, at this moment in time, i tend to agree with him, nobody seems to care about the countries pride anyone, things are done haphazardly without consequences. I just hope the ISD Director is not given a Ministerial post at the PRESIDENCY.

  • It’s high time we make our grievances known to these politicians that everything should not and must not be about them and their families. This foolery disgraces us all…I’m really sad for my country at this juncture that we rule the country with lies and mischief!

    What saddens me is the fact that they don’t read! They only go to school without learning.

  • Dinah Amankwah

    Sad indeed!

  • Alexander Martey

    When you give jobs to the ones who wrote 27 zero for you to be president and they are the same people who made the mistake (no decided to give your office to someone else) then you will understand what you’ve bargained for.
    This is why, we can not all continue to sit on the fence as neutrals, when we’re together in the disgrace of their political activities.
    This is the time to change direction.
    To uproot incompetency from our governance.
    The tribal and other considerations at voting should now be put into the backburner.
    Ghana first!
    Change John Mahama and his incompetent friends.

  • michael mireku

    This is certainly one of my best reads in a long while. We have lowered the standards ….mediocrity all over affecting even the educated so we don’t see what is happening to our country. It’s as if pple want to see us buried in debt and in shame before they wake up to the folly this govt has made us

  • Reblogged this on shakesduncan.

  • Cee

    I believe there are several Ghanaians who share the same concerns as those raised in this article about our leaders and about how irresponsible Ghanaians in general have become. Clearly our leaders don’t care and /I believe that for the few of us who actually care, if we keep complaining and do not do anything about our situation, we’ll end up sinking with everyone else. My suggestion is that we create a platform where people can be organized to share ideas, start some form of public awareness, suggest to or make demands from people in authority and organize community service events to take us out of this madness. We need to fix our current generation and train the upcoming children so they develop a different mindset than ours-to think more about how they can as individuals and collectively be useful to our nation. I actually know of a page on Facebook that started recently-its called “Ghana I Wish” and the address is http://www.facebook.com/Ghana1wish. I believe we can go far if we put our heart hands and heads together.

  • Michael Ocansey

    Even if the entire communication team of Mahama is fired the harm unfortunately has already been done. We cannot reverse the 59th Independence Day celebrations plus it’s blunders. We’ve already been laughed at. The impression is gone with those who were present. Sad. Really sad indeed.

  • SenaK

    Malaka, ‘lodestar’? Or is it supposed to be the ‘lone star’? I’m confused. Each time I see an error on Ghanaian grammar I feel like I didn’t learn the correct thing… 😐/

    • SenaK

      *in Ghanaian grammar.
      Seems like it’s contagious!

  • Bakkan Wirige

    Great piece. However, blaming those who left because they could not cope or were not wanted back home is wrong. As a saying goes “one can take a horse to the river but cannot force it to drink”. A Ghanaian-American electrical engineer offered his services for free to help solve dumsor and was told he should apply for a job at VRA or ECG !

    • I don’t think I blamed those who left. I mentioned the privileged class. Do we not have members of the privileged class in their numbers in the country?

      And I’m also aware of Ben Dedjoe’s generous offer which was declined by some block head at the VRA. That’s one of many pertinent points.

      • Bakkan Wirige

        “Do we not have members of the privileged class in their numbers in the country? ”
        We do but nobody listens to them so they stay away. The politicization of everything is now such that if you do not belong they will not listen to you. Glad to know about the Ben Dedjoe case as it proves my.

    • Sel

      Majority of the Diaspora would love nothing more than to be back home and making a real difference. When they do return however, Ghana does not know what to do with these radical-minded, status-quo disrupting people. From experience I don’t believe that Ghana is ready to have such people back actually.

      Maybe in a few more decades.

      As for the mess the country seems to be descending further into…well, God help us all.

  • MAURICE BATSA ODONKOR

    what a shame.That is what happens when people get positions by who you know and not by merit.

  • bxshola

    The sad thing is Information Services had nothing to do with it. They were demonstrating yesterday that since the creation of ministry of information and communication it seems theyve been made redundant. Theyve handled it for the last 6 years but this year, apparently the excuse of costs was used to take the responsibility of creating and printing the brochure straight to the flagstaff house without their input and now that there is backlash theyre being used as scapegoats. Its ridiculous that a sole individual can do such and have the audacity to pass the buck too. Smh

    • And bravo to them! I was so proud that they stood up for themselves. It was wrong of the director to try to take the fall for something he had nothing to do with and then sully his entire team in the process. They didn’t deserve to be sacrificed like that. And what’s worse is as the day goes on, more and more is being revealed about this apology fiasco. The letterhead, the dates, it’s a mess.

  • Malaka, from the bottom of my pained heart, thank you for writing this. We cannot be angry enough.

  • You put it succinctly, Malaka. The pain and anger are palpable and at this moment I wish I were not a Ghanaian. But that would be tantamount to throwing away my mother because she fought in the market.
    At the very least they could have gone for professional proofreading and editing. Maybe this should be a wake up call to all of us. We should never ever take anything for granted, just because we think we are we!

    Thank you for this post, Malaka.

  • Bill Kordhah

    Ghana! Ghana!! Ghana!! eye! mon gyae kasa no, we all make mistakes.

    • Stop it. We all know we all make mistakes. Our fatal error is that we keep accepting these tragic mistakes instead of striving for better.

      Your attitude is the reason why our roads are in disrepair and our hospitals are death traps. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

      • Micky Mouse

        Since independence Ghana has been going backwards. People get real. The finger pointing and blame culture is pathetic. 99.999999% of the people are chronically dishonest. Until your attitudes changes , Ghana like most African countries will continue to mark time. You reap what you sow.

  • Michael

    Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite. We may cry out, we may pound the dirt, we may even point the fingers at our leaders, civil servants but in the end, deep down, when we finally look in the mirror we know it’s our fault.