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A birthday gift for Ghana: a village teacher’s inspiring example

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

Tomorrow, March 6, our country celebrates its 65th year under the name ‘Ghana’, and as an independent nation. This year’s theme, for the observance is a stirring ‘Working together; bouncing back better’.

As usual, the main ‘birthday party’ will take the form of a National Parade, this time in Cape Coast, Central Region, and Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados will be the Special Guest of Honour for the ‘Cape Coast 2022’.

Notably, this year’s will be the third rotational National Independence Day Parade to be held outside the capital city, an inclusiveness idea introduced by President Nana Akufo-Addo. The first was in Tamale, in 2019; the second in Kumasi, in 2020.

Last year, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic’s onslaught, the National Parade took the form of a minor ceremony at Jubilee House.

But birthday celebrations usually go with presents for the celebrant, so how about a birthday a gift from Ghanaians to our country?

Well, I can think of something which Ghana seriously needs currently: patriotism, love of country; or call it ‘Ghana love’, because love of country seems to have been lost in the midst of all the current mostly political troubles.

Nevertheless, a village head teacher has shown that all is not lost.

To hear some people talk, one would think that nothing good is happening in Ghana today, despite all the strides being made under the administration of President Nana Akufo-Addo and the implementation of numerous social interventions.

Yet, the evidence is there, obviously for those who want to see, those who will give credit where it is due – even to an opponent.

I find it curious that despite the conspicuous social interventions and development, some people still ask where all the money the Akufo-Addo Government has borrowed, or has had access to, has gone. The implication is that the funds have fallen victim to corruption.

But if they have proof of corruption, why are they keeping that a secret?

Yes, there is hardship; cost of living is outstripping earnings; but that situation is not unique to Ghana, as the international media reports show.

The following were headlines from some British newspapers last month:

Cost of living crisis … tighten your belts, Britain in grip of biggest squeeze ever (Daily Express).”

Interest rates, energy bills and inflation soar” (Daily Mail)”.

“Britons facing biggest drop in living standards” (The Times).”
Prices crisis to leave us £2,000 a year worse off … shocking impact of hikes in fuel, groceries, housing … (Daily Mirror).”

From another part of Africa, an Associated Press headline stated: “Thousands in Morocco protest high fuel prices, soaring inflation”.

Nearer home, a few days ago a video on a social media platform, had this intriguing caption: “Watch how Nigerians fight with deadly weapons at fuel station over fuel scarcity.”

Although governments the whole world are attributing their current economic woes to the effect of the pandemic, to critics of the Akufo-Addo administration, Ghana has no reason to attribute any economic problems to the pandemic! How strange!

Yet, just earlier this week, a World Bank report headline stated: “Ghana’s economy weakened by Covid-19 crisis”.

Fortunately, despite the hardship that can’t be denied, there are the occasional glimmers of hope to inspire us.

I can cite the awesome example of a head teacher who has demonstrated extraordinary goodwill and love for his wards at Kwasi Nyarko, a village, in the Upper West Akim District of the Eastern Region. The curiously named village will certainly not be familiar to many outside that region, but a headteacher there has demonstrated an exceptional spirit of selflessness.

Richard Boakye Marfo, headteacher of the Kwasi Nyarko Presbyterian Primary School, has made headlines because he has reportedly used his salary to renovate and paint his school.

Mr Marfo’s extraordinary gesture came to my attention last week, through a news item on Radio Ghana.

He was quoted by the reporter as explaining that when he was posted to the school in 2019, it was in very bad shape and had even become a playground for miscreants. As no assistance was coming from anywhere he decided to do the necessary repairs himself, including fixing a gate.

My further search revealed that this is the second time Mr Marfo has used his own money to improve the premises as “his contribution to making Ghana a better place for posterity.” Since its establishment in 1965, the school had never been painted.

In these days of hardship, for a headteacher to fund the renovation of his school, without waiting for the Ghana Education Service (GES), speaks volumes about his admirable attitude, which translates as love for his school and his pupils; and Ghana.

And I hope the GES will be supporting Mr Marfo’s efforts.

That is the kind of birthday present, goodwill and patriotism that I think Ghana needs from all of us.

A reference source identifies four types of patriotism as including:
“A special affection towards one's country; being interested in the country's welfare; and sacrificing for the sake of the country's welfare.”

Similarly, nation love is the focus of the striking motto of the Sunyani Senior High School, in the Bono Region. The motto, in the Akan language states: “Me man nti, enye me nti” meaning (‘We live not for ourselves only, but for our country too’.)

One can also cite American President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address on January 20, 1961, and his “historic words, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

On Ghana’s 65th birthday, I suggest that the ideal birthday gift from each of us would be a determination to emulate the shining example of the Kwasi Nyarko Presbyterian Primary School headteacher.

The nation needs that spirit of ‘Ghana love’. We all have a stake in working together to enable Ghana bounce back and bounce back better to the pre-Covid growth.

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