Last week, an FM station dedicated its morning programme to receiving calls from Nigerians resident in Ghana on the unfortunate developments in Nigeria. Understandably, many were upset and angry about goings-on in their country.
One caller, however, after expressing his unhappiness, passionately said “Ghana, you don’t know what you have!” Without suggesting perfection in any way, he extolled the virtues about peace in Ghana and how safe he and his family feel here. He, therefore, advised Ghanaians to cherish the peace we have and not destroy it. This reminded me of an incident in Nigeria when I lived there.
In the 1980s, I studied at the Command and Staff College, Nigeria. Recounting his experience in Ghana as a Directing Staff (lecturer) at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in the 1980s, a Nigerian officer talked about how safe Ghana was.
Illustrating his point, he told the packed hall of students and lecturers that, he could literally, carry a pot of gold and walk 14 kilometres from the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in the centre of Accra to his residence at Teshie Barracks, without any fear of being attacked.
When some giggled suggesting an exaggeration, he challenged them to visit Ghana with him!
Ghanaians take the peace we have for granted! Unlike Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and neighbour Ivory Coast, which have all fought civil wars, we have been spared that.
Additionally, we were spared the Ebola outbreak which ravaged Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Even with the current COVID-19, we have been spared the ravages such that, Ghanaians are being careless with observing basic safety protocol. In the few cases where facemasks are worn, they have become ‘chin masks’ with the mouth and nose exposed.
Indeed, so used are we to peace that a senior friend of mine told me he was initially put off by the title of my article, “Have you ever smelt rotten human flesh?”
After reading it however, he understood why I was so graphic. It was meant to educate Ghanaians about what Ghanaian soldiers go through when we go keeping peace in war-torn countries.
The net result of having been spared civil wars and disasters is that, like spoilt children, we do not appreciate how blessed we are.
We are, therefore, busy working hard towards tasting disaster. Otherwise, what sense does it make throwing Ghana into confusion simply to have power to rule a failed state?
I have written many articles on what dangers we are inviting on ourselves by the dangerous rhetoric. A common question I get asked is, do those who use such language read, and if they do, do they care?
A Nigerian friend said, a major contributor to the current problem in Nigeria allegedly, had his private jet on standby ready to leave if the situation should blow up.
While the private jet culture may not be prevalent in Ghana, it is common knowledge that some of these ‘conflict-preneurs’, who are preparing the minds of their followers for confusion have their children safe outside Ghana!
Will they have their privileged children return home to snatch ballot boxes and lead in what they intend using the poor youth for at the possible expense of their lives?
In his address to Nigerians, President Buhari called for engagement with the youth for peace.
Ghanaian soldiers have returned from UN Peacekeeping in Cambodia, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, etc., permanently scarred by what we saw. Let us not court violence! For once it starts and degenerates into UN troops coming in, Ghana is doomed!
For those stoking embers into flames of conflict if they don’t have their way, remember what Martin Luther King said, “the arm of the moral universe might be long, but it still bends towards justice!”
History will be harsh on such obsession for power. As is often quoted “what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?”
Let us not make it sound like the order “Look Ghanaians, I want to serve you. If you don’t allow me, I will kill you with immediate effect!”
Also, remember the words of American President JF Kennedy when he said “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich”.
In any case, hasn’t COVID-19 taught us we are safer in Africa?
Finally, the Nigerian resident in Ghana summed it up saying “Ghana, you don’t know what you have!” Let us appreciate what we have, and improve on that.
Fellow Ghanaians, let us swim together to greatness!
The writer is a former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Accra