Long ago, Ghanaians used to shudder at the very sight of blood. We were so humane we used to throw up on hearing news by returnees from Nigeria that in that country, motorists consciously would drive over the body of a hit-and-run victim till the body flattened in the middle of the street while passers-by looked on because ‘God don punish am”. Whaaat, this could never happen in Ghana, we swore. Those were days when Ghanaian drivers would screech to an instant halt or drive gingerly around to avoid their tyres running over a dead fowl!
When, in the early 1980s—Ghanaian returnees from Nigeria beat into unconsciousness, one of their kind at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, forced a car tyre around his neck and set him ablaze – because he was suspected of picking someone’s pocket - the conclusion by many of us was that they had introduced a foreign culture to Ghana.
Insanity at Denkyira Obuasi
The fact that a few people cried upon hearing of this week’s insanity at Denkyira-Obuasi where a young army officer was lynched and his body set ablaze shows that some element of humanity still remains in us.
But can we, in all sincerity, say we were shocked by this aspect of Ghanaian character? Can we swear by the Holy Bible and the Quran, by Akonedi or Penkyi Otu or Patanngye that that act of insanity was (is) un-Ghanaian? Had we not seen it coming?
Something has changed in the make-up of the Ghanaian. Indeed, a lot of things have changed in Ghana. Time was when nobody sold mangoes. They dropped from the trees and we just picked them and ate, though once in a while, owners of the trees would release dogs or watchmen after us. Talk of snails! Whoever thought that one day the Ghanaian would buy snails! All you did was dash off into the bush. You gathered them by the dozens. Inside your soup were crabs which we caught with our traps at the beach.
Today, there are no owner-less snails and crabs: some people have claimed ownership of the land and they charge a fee for picking even a dead snail. Two Sundays ago, I bought coconut for GHc2. Two Ghana Cedis! I yelled.
The Ghanaian has changed. Ghana has changed.
My hunch is that it is going to get worse. It will be until the people we elect to solve our problems are reminded that part of their mandate under the Social Contract is to make sensible laws and put in place structures and mechanisms whose aim is to ensure that the citizen lives in peace, free from fear, and that we maintain our Ghanaian-ness or African humane-ness.
What is macro and “micro-economic indicators”; what is ‘One-District, One-Factory’; of what benefit is a Kasoa Interchange or an airport in Ho if I cannot be certain that I will return from my farm or factory and realise that thieves have ransacked every room?
Characteristics of a democratic state
One of the characteristic features of a democratic state is that it is unthinkable for a citizen to dream of laying a finger on a policeman, a soldier or a judge. Without these three, there is no society, and life will be meaningless, brutish and short.
I like the socio-psychological analysis offered on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show in the aftermath of the lynching of the army officer, and the mayhem at Somanya. It describes them as group action, linking it to results of our presidential elections, especially when the anger of the group (the citizens) results in massive defeat of an incumbent president.
The group feels their will is so potent it can change anything. Their will having changed the fortunes of a political party, they feel (and know) that their word is Law to Presidents who are compelled to act lest they lose the next election.
Over time, this feeling has been confirmed by the actions and inactions of ruling parties and sitting presidents who have been petrified into inaction when the group seized toilets, toll booths etc.
O, that the Montie 3 had not been snatched from the jaws of prison by a Presidential Act! O, that the Delta Forces in Kumasi had been jailed, or that the police, fearless of possible political consequences, gone after them just after they released their members then standing trial!
How can we save ourselves from this insanity? Is it possible to do a U-Turn and begin afresh from an era when CEOs of state organisations would be people who have risen to that rank by the Public Service scheme of determining merit; the era where principal secretaries (chief directors) were people who had literally eaten wisdom and drank from a well not only of knowledge but experience!
If Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo wants to be remembered long after he is dead and gone, my advice is to turn and look at the Ghanaian.
To do that, let’s return to basics – to our culture: who we are as a people; what our values are etc. The CULTURE POLICY OF GHANA has some answers. The CULTURE FORUM, led by Prof Esi Sutherland Addy and Akunu Dake, has some answers.
For me, a President is not the one who built a road or clinic; even a JHS student, if he is voted President, will build infrastructure. If there is no money, we will go to the IMF.