Lifestyle, national reality
The festivities have come and gone, the hampers splattered on tables in shops, Christmas-lighted pine trees the remaining reminder.
Hopefully, determined traders were able to squeeze every pesewa from careful as well as impulsive shoppers.
Despite the price hikes, it is hoped that shoppers got good deals.
However, for all concerned Ghanaians, the joy of the festivities was clouded by apprehension about the financial crises facing the nation.
The relief brought by the strengthening Cedi was tinged with suspense about its sustainability and possible impact on cost of living.
Then there is the strong antagonism of Trades Union Congress towards the suggested debt exchange for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) support.
Paradoxically, for a bigger percentage of Ghanaians, the revelry and extravagance continue unabated.
Pass by any food joint or bar, location notwithstanding, and one witnesses good patronage. Such joints spring up by the day, apparently, because they bring good revenue.
On the one hand, it is good to see job creation. On the other hand, such services do not align with frugality. People who complain about financial constraints should practise frugality.
They should pinch and save, not be spendthrifts. Food and drinks from such places do not come cheap or neat at times, so when a cross-section of the youthful population, some with unemployment issues, constantly patronise such expensive services, it is worrying.
The increasing extravagance characterising the lifestyle of a cross-section of Ghanaians, especially the youth, is another genuine source of alarm. Some households have formed a non-cooking culture.
They buy their meals – breakfast, lunch, supper. What salary can support such spending culture? Yet, there are other pitfalls.
Food prepared at home offers a number of advantages, premier among which is safety.
Two recent reports have indicated that fried rice from the streets contain high amounts of camphor, a substance that should not be eaten. My inquiries have revealed that the joints add camphor for flavour.
Anyone who has patronised fried rice can attest to the flavour and its whipping-appetite effect. In many ways, eating food prepared at home equates eating healthily. Sometimes, patrons of street food willingly compromise their own safety.
It is acknowledged by many Ghanaians that people who sell food use the banned spice A1. One wonders why the Food and Drugs Authority continues to turn a blind eye to that product and others on the Ghanaian market.
Careless people patronise such bad foods to endanger their health, then turn to burden the ailing National Health Insurance Scheme for health services for preventable diseases. Worse, the people who negotiate their own illness turn to dubious pastors who blame witches – invariably elderly women – in the family.
The ill, therefore, will not do self-assessment to ascertain how they willingly engineered their poor health. They blame others for their woes. In case of death, the same vulnerable group gets pointed at. No one dies naturally in this country.
With such a high level of irresponsibility among citizens, endorsed by dubious religious leaders, capped by porous education, spearheaded by greedy politicians and traditional leaders, who needs a recipe for financial disaster?
Indeed, many residents continue to devise cheap ways to earn money to support extravagance. Our morbidity reflects in the glorification of death. Plastering the streets with costly funeral billboards is really a weird practice. Sometimes, the name of a popular close relative appears on the board, apparently