Yes, we do indeed love you even though we sometimes may not act like we do. On the occasion of your 60th anniversary as we wish you, we are also wishing ourselves all that is in our national anthem and other patriotic songs.
I have chosen some lines from our national anthem that I believe admonishes us as citizens of this land. This is in line with Ephraim Amu’s ‘Yen Ara Asase Ni’ which say that whether the nation prospers or not depends on us the citizens of the land. I will end this anniversary letter with ‘Beautiful Ghana’ by Cab Kaye made popular as ‘Work and Happiness” by the Ramblers dance band in the 1960s.
As you read this article, remember that whether or not this nation prospers really depends on our character as citizens of this nation. Let us look at ourselves as individuals. We should not hide behind the cloak of being collectively known as Ghanaians. So, as you read do not point fingers at the politician, the clergy, youth, business people or any other Ghanaian who in your opinion is the cause of our woes. Think of yourself as an individual and what you can do to personally take charge of changing your attitude and conduct so that in the next 10 years we will all have cause to be proud of our achievements as a nation.
Make us cherish fearless honesty
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We sing our national anthem with pride, ‘make us cherish fearless honesty’, on our 60th anniversary, what do we hear, what do we observe? Are we really cherishing fearless honesty? From what we see, hear and read it appears that we are dishonest and everyone is trying to get one over another by cutting corners. Even in revered institutions, we are sadly faced with the fact that some are blatantly lying. What example are they setting as leaders? No, not they, what example are you setting as a leader? How do you work with others? I still continue to be amazed at how we work with others. Whether it is the artisan, the government worker or private businessperson we cut corners, short change ourselves. When you hear about some people’s experiences, you will be given a catalogue of horror stories on how we treat ourselves.
Let us inculcate values such as honesty, hard work, discipline and integrity into our children. I say children and not youth because I have realised that these values are best learnt from home. Cheating and lying are out of the question. A young man once told me how his mother bought leaked exam papers for him. She told him that it was being sold in the market so she bought it for him so that he would pass his exams. I was just cringing with shame as he shared this story, first for the mother, what values was she teaching her son, and the son, how could he feel good and not shame about sharing such a story. Our dishonesty has permeated all levels of our society from schools, homes to institutions.
There is a breakdown of our moral character. Another situation that illustrates how ‘warped’ our thinking and attitude have become was in a graduate training program on career and personal development. The objective of the program was to instil values such as professionalism, honesty, integrity into their future professional life. At the end of this month long program, they were asked to share their goals in the area of future workplace and why they had chosen that particular field or organisation. A young person informed us very confidently that he wanted to work in the Civil Service because he would have time to pursue his own agenda. What! We informed him that was not good enough and that he should have better aspirations. So, he then said he would want to work in a popular government department where he undertook his national service because he would have the chance to receive tips from customers.
At this point, we were in despair. How and why is this young person thinking like that? What influenced his thinking for him to unashamedly make such statements?
Cherishing honest values like hard work does not seem not to be in the vocabulary of some of these youths. When interacting with some young people there is a sense that they admire those who have gotten wealthy through questionable means. This is not surprising when it has been recorded that some ‘characters’ have received rousing welcomes when they arrive home after a stint in Her Majesty’s accommodation. Some have had parties thrown in their honour. Is it honour among thieves? So are we a nation of thieves. If we are not, then why do we seem or act like we ‘admire’ them?
“Show me the heroes that the youth of your country look up to, and I will tell you the future of your country.” A quote from Idowu Koyenikan, from his book – ‘Wealth for All Africans: How Every African Can Live the Life of Their Dreams’ My heart sinks as I look at some of our youth in general and the role models they look up to.
On this occasion, I wish it could have been about how well we are doing and how we could even do better. I wish I did not have to be so pessimistic.
Steadfast to build together
How are we building together? In terms of character building. Everything has a political coating. Any critique is seen in the light of one party or another. I feel extreme pain that on this our 60th anniversary it looks like there is not much positive to report on. We are undisciplined. We have markets springing all over the place. Right in front of the Accra Mall, the lovely space with green grass is slowly becoming a market. Why should we wait until the people have occupied the whole place and then they begin to think it is their right to occupy the place. I know they must make a living but not at the expense of flouting rules and regulations. The same situation is evident at the beginning and end of the Tema motorway.
How are we building together our capital city where you can observe citizens doing their personal business in the middle of the road, by an advertisement or by their tro-tro (mini van). The sad discouraging fact is that when you admonish them, they rather think you are the one who is not normal. They question why you should have such a problem with their behaviour.
Raise high the Flag/Black Star of hope and honour
African personality, Ghanaian in character, I heard this saying from those who were adults at independence, they were so proud of being Ghanaians, The first African country south of the Sahara to gain independence, there were even reports that some Africans abroad all claimed to be Ghanaians. What hope do we have now when we compare ourselves to nations such as Malaysia that gained independence in the same year. One redeeming fact is that we have adhered to our democratic principles and have had peaceful changes in Government.
We have to raise high our flag, how can you do this as an individual? Let us be mindful and intentional in doing honourable deeds and acts such as working hard, being honest and disciplined.
Yen Ara Asase Ni
(This is our own dear land)
As for ‘Yen Ara Asase Ni’ this song admonishes us to continue with what our ancestors started, we should shun the know -it -all behaviour, cheating and selfishness. We know it all, but do we put into practice what we know? At an international conference it was heard that other African nationalities wanted to be in the group with Ghana because Ghanaians had good ideas that they could take home and put into practice. The refrain goes whether or not this nation prospers clearly depends on the character of the citizens of the nation.
Work and happiness
I love this song, it is work that will bring happiness to beautiful Ghana, and all must give their best. How are we going to do this? By being selfless in all our dealings.
‘Work and happiness
I will give my best
You will give your best
We will give our best to beautiful Ghana
Work and happiness yes I must confess
It will bring success for beautiful Ghana
United farmers and workers of Africa
God will bless you wherever you are
All must give their best to beautiful Ghana’
As we mark our 60th Anniversary, let us espouse the ideals in our national anthem, knowing very well that whether we make it or not depends on us as we must all give our best to our Beautiful Ghana. Will you do this?