What is morality to a cockroach?

As if a run-down economy had not done enough to reduce Ghana and Ghanaians to beggars, politics, since 1992, has made liars of us, sinking us to the bottom of depravity. 

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I am getting convinced that poverty is a cousin to wickedness. Inflation pushes up prices, yes, but is inflation responsible for our situation now when prices of foodstuff change by the hour?

I am one of those who think that the government is partly to blame for our woes; that Akufo Addo’s Economic Management Team “is not seeing top” and that we are witnessing one of the worst instances of corruption in Ghana’s history.

All of the above is true, but there is an element in our collective hardship that can only be explained by our collective character. Greed has become our faith; if you don’t cheat or embezzle, you are the “fool”.

Like people suffering from hearing impairment, the number of Ghanaians suffering from moral impairment is multiplying every day, totally lacking in the slightest dose of virtue and moral scruples.

If you seek proof, go to any EC office anywhere in Ghana. I heard the question being asked on the radio: “How can people from Ashaiman be on the same bus as those from Kumbungu and Kumasi – all arriving at the Tamale EC office for the same transaction: to transfer their votes?”

Bussing of voters and or registrants is not new; students did that in the past, especially whenever they wanted to inflict pain on the ruling government. However, what can account for the sudden spike? 

Curiously enough, the first contact each of the two major flagbearers (NDC/NPP) makes on entering any region or town to campaign is with clerics of the two major religions, namely Christianity and Islam. Before opening their mouths, there is a prayer. 

The last word is a prayer. They lie through their teeth, though they just stepped out of church with a rosary or bible; out of the mosque with tesba or Koran. What is going for us is that the God Akans know as Twedeampong or Onyankopon, whom the Ga people poetically refer to as Ataa Naa Nyomo and whom Ewes call Maawu, is not a Ghanaian. In dispensing justice, He mixes it with mercy, so He does not expose or punish us instantly when we lie. That, to my understanding, is why political liars and crooks abound.

This wickedness of the ordinary man in the streets is their reaction to the opulence they see displayed by elected leaders. The ordinary Ghanaian knows that the wealth is illegally acquired, and the only way to also be rich is to “kill” their neighbour through pricing — a sort of cascading effect.

Opulence

Africa has no shortage of examples of Presidents and other state officials who have lived in opulence while the citizens drank brownish-yellowish water made more malodorous by cattle excreta.

In the Central African Republic in the 1970s, while the people were famished and schoolchildren had nothing to wear, Jean-Bédel Bokassa bought a golden crown and placed it on his own head in a coronation that cost his country US$20 million. 

Besides his palatial presidential mansion, Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko owned a lavish townhouse in Paris, a 32-room estate in Switzerland and a 16th century castle in Spain. 

Confronted by an interviewer for Africa News magazine in 1988 with rumours of his wealth, Mobutu boasted that his European bank accounts held "less than $50 million.” But, he questioned his critics, “What is that, after 22 years as head of state of such a big country?"

Much of that loot was stashed by cronies, family and friends of the President who held no titles, were neither elected nor appointed to any official position but who originated deals, “state contracts, state projects” – which loot could never be traced to them.

Amidst the opulence, Zaire’s external debt accounted for about 60 per cent of the total, and long-term debt to multilateral creditors for another 17 per cent. 

Sanitation

My advocacy for accountability this week extends to sanitation. Professor Evans Atta Mills, as an NDC flag bearer, promised an assault on sanitation in his first 100 days if he won. As President, filth piled as high as mountains.

Akufo Addo, in 2016, pledged to transform Accra into the cleanest city in Africa. He has sacked two Sanitation Ministers but Accra remains dirty, if not dirtier. It is not as if it is not an impossible feat.

Rwanda reversed its accolade as the dirtiest country in the world. In 2018, UN Environment Programme Head Eric Solheim referred to Kigali as the “cleanest city on the planet”, both in terms of lack of street rubbish and green initiatives. It’s called Leadership. 

Ever heard any of our two top presidential contenders – Mahama and Bawumia – open their mouths to address sanitation? Have you ever gone to a political rally and heard any politician lament the escalating rate of morality and our vanishing value system?

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What is morality or sanitation to a cockroach? They don’t bring votes.

The writer is Executive Director,
Centre for Communication and Culture.
E-mail: [email protected]

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