Painful words of wisdom

Painful words of wisdom

Milan Zivadinovic,  one of the numerous foreign football coaches who visited our land abandoned us unceremoniously.  But during the short period that he was in the country, he made a serious observation which should give us food for thought.


He described Ghanaians as talkertives who spend seven days a week talking instead of thinking and planning something to do.  Some people may find his comments or observations unpalatable.   Some may even condemn him for such a remark after enjoying our proverbial hospitality and for taking money for no work done.

But can't we be candid to ourselves and admit that the man has come very close to telling us the truth?  Don't we spend the greater part of our time indulging in unnecessary talk?  Our government officials, don't they use the greater part of the time in office going round the country making vain promises?

We have been told many  times that the Afram and Accra plains are to be irrigated and turned into the granary of this land. Has this promise been fulfilled? Can we count the number of projects including roads, hospitals, schools, markets, railway lines and so forth that have been constructed by way of promises but which had never seen reality? 

Our ministers who should be doing some serious thinking, planning and taking appropriate actions prefer to move from one radio or television station to another talking or making arguments that serve no purpose as far as the national interest is concerned. 

Visit the ministries and all those who matter are either in a meeting, attending a seminar or a so-called capacity building workshop or are outside the country attending an international conference.  At the end of the day this country spends a lot of money on these talking sprees than on actual projects. So our conditions remain the same.

Some people even argue that a big chunk of the loans, grants and other fundings that attract newspaper headlines go into frivolities such as seminars and workshops which do not add value to our national development objectives. 

Our pastors and evangelists are not different.  They believe the more they scream and disturb the peace, the greater the intensity of God's blessings. So after a day's work, you go home to be confronted by a noisy church next door and all that the police, the local assembly or the Environmental Protection Authority could do is to issue warnings and give assurances. These are all symptoms of talking without action. Our laws don't work, we only talk about them.

We better  humbly accept the fact that we are a nation of talkertives and determine whether that is best for us or we change for the better.

About a week or so ago, it was alleged that President Robert Mugabe made a comment to the effect that Ghana has not changed much since the 1960s when he first visited the country. 

Some people did not have kind words for the old man. Many others also agreed with President Mugabe and admitted that Ghana's development pace is so slow that it is almost static.

If truth must be told, Mugabe is not far from right. If we want to behave like the athlete in a race who looks at those behind him and consoles himself that after all, he is not last, we may be losing the import of the Mugabe comment.  But if we want to behave like the athlete who is looking ahead trying to catch up and overtake those in the lead, then Mugabe's message must prick our conscience and jostle us into serious action.

Do we have any railway system in Ghana today, even though at one time, we had a whole ministry for ports and railways? How many oil refineries have we been able to build since the first one was built in the 1960s?   The existing one, is it functioning?

Where are all those manufacturing plants which set Ghana on the path of industrialisation in the 1960s? Can we say with confidence that our agricultural sector is doing better today than it was in the 1960s and early 1970s? 

Do we have a road network befitting a country with so much natural resources?  Have we overcome water and energy shortages? We are now talking about nuclear energy as if it is something new. The Nkrumah regime acquired a nuclear reactor for Ghana in the 1960s, so why are we now debating the issue when we should have gone beyond nuclear by now? So where is the fantastic developments former President J. A. was alleged to have alluded to in reaction to Mugabe's comments?

Instead of looking behind and congratulating ourselves, let us look ahead at those who were on the same starting line with us in the 1960s but are now thousands of miles ahead to appreciate the seriousness of our miserable situation.

Mugabe cannot be wrong if you look at Singapore,  South Korea, the Philippines,  Malaysia,  Brazil and others that we are eager to approach for assistance. Just as Coach Vivadinovic reminded us of our over indulgence in idle talk, Mugabe has told The truth in the face about our slow pace of development.  

It is for us to listen to him and straighten our path or forever consign ourselves to the fool's paradise. 

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