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Generational viewpoints: Old, young!

BY: Brig. Gen. Dan Frimpong (Retd)

Last week’s article: “Has the “milk-of-human-mercy” dried-up?” had a lot of positive feedback. It appears to have whetted the appetite of readers for milk! Not surprisingly, some asked for a sequel to the article with the same title.

However, while appreciating their interest, trying to come out with a new topic every week is a challenge I enjoy.

A feedback I received stated: “Hahahaa! Sir, do you think the younger generation have anything to learn from the older generation? If you trace the root cause of the quest for quick money, you will find that it is as a result of the avarice of the older decision makers who display looted money with impunity. So the younger ones wrongly emulate them. Nobody seems to be giving them hope so they make such decisions sometimes devoid of human feeling.”

The comment above took me back to my role as a mediator between my nephew and his mother some years back.

The experience recorded in the book Retirement Musings states:

“My nephew, a young university graduate, asked his mother what legacy we their parents were leaving for them. He fired at his mother that she and her siblings constantly spoke fondly and lovingly about the virtues and discipline their parents instilled in them.

He said, “All we hear you do daily is hurl insults at one another using intemperate language and showing open disrespect to one another in the full glare of the whole world. Meanwhile, ours is a country which produces nothing apart from bitters and building filling stations. We import everything, including toothpick and vegetables from neighbouring and faraway countries. Corruption has grown deep roots and is strangulating us with the power of a choke grip. Are you our parents happy with bequeathing us with a legacy of violence, indiscipline, stealing, lies, filth and corruption, and consigning us to permanent poverty with the huge debts you are leaving for us after all your conspicuous consumption?”

The mother was sad about her son’s questions as she realised that she had no answers to his barrage of questions based on his observations. She asked me, “Uncle Dan, so what do we do?”

President Sukharno

In 1968, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore visited Indonesia. He was so impressed with what he saw, he complimented Indonesian President Sukharno saying, “You are blessed with a beautiful country!” Sukharno’s answer was, “Yes, God has blessed us. The problem is the people!”

Like President Sukharno said of Indonesia, I think God has blessed Ghana with a beautiful country! How about the people?

‘Horsa’

In 1999, I flew from Tamale to Accra with my cadets after their paratroop training. Noticing I was unusually quiet, my senior colleague the base commander who sat by me in the aircraft said, “Dan, cheer up! Command of a training institution is not easy/pleasant! Sometimes, we pilot instructors crash with our students and die! Luckily, your cadets didn’t die! That is the name of the game! Cheer up!”

Two of my cadets had broken their legs and had been flown to 37 Military Hospital earlier, hence my senior colleague consoling me.

Some months later, we met in the mess one evening. He had just returned home from a course overseas. Talking about how beneficial the course was, he added that he had made new friends (networked) from all over the world.

When he mentioned “Horsa” from next door, I told him he was my boss in the staff college. He then told me about his encounter with “Horsa”.

From his extensive knowledge of Ghanaians, he described us as very nice people, unlike his own people who fight first to announce their arrival anywhere. He quickly added that unfortunately, the Ghanaian’s niceness was only superficial. Having associated with Ghanaians for a long time, he said unlike his countrymen, Ghanaians were not happy when Ghanaians succeeded.

Ghanaians prefer helping other nationals to succeed rather than their own. My colleague’s spirited defence of Ghanaians only succeeded in incensing “Horsa” who shot back asking,

“Didn’t you line up your generals and shoot them for taking bank loans to build three-bedroom houses for their retirement? Didn’t you kill judges, including a lactating mother, and burn them at a military range? Remember, the whole world saw it!”

To avoid drawing further fire, my colleague decided to activate Shakespeare’s caution that, discretion is the better part of valour!

Ghanaian

Perhaps, like President Sukharno told Lee Kuan Yew, “God has blessed this country. The problem is the people!”

Why do Ghanaians denigrate anything Ghanaian and yet offer so much “traditional Ghanaian hospitality” to foreigners, many of whom do not deserve it?

Why do traditional leaders cooperate with foreigners to destroy our forests and water bodies through illegal mining (galamsey)? Many rivers now are muddy and cannot support fish life.

Why has mediocrity taken over from meritocracy with so many square pegs in round holes? Why has “protocol” enlistment/recruitment virtually replaced the merit-based selection procedure?

Money has replaced truth as a virtue, with hard work and honesty relegated to the background.

As a famous radio broadcaster summarises it, hypocrisy and dishonesty have taken over our dear country!

In all this, where is leadership?

Way forward

What we need is to go back to the time-tested values of truth, integrity, hard work, respect for diversity and discipline, and above all visionary, humble and honest leadership.

That way, we the oldies will regain our dignity and obviate attacks by my nephew and his generation on us the older generation!

Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

The writer is former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Accra. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.