“It is good people who make good places.” — Anna Sewell
Think about what life in Ghana would be like in 2030 as compared to its current state in terms of the rate of destruction of water bodies, deforestation, destruction of cocoa farms for illegal mining, citizenry’s desire for self-aggrandisement and wealth accumulation by fair or foul means to the extent of (allegedly) using fellow human beings for money rituals and the quest for power to dominate others.
Also, imagine what people in countries such as Malaysia and Singapore project their countries to be in 2030. A vast difference between the thoughts and actions taken in these two scenarios is expected. Unlike Malaysians and Singaporeans, Ghanaians need to reorient their negative attitudes and practices to promote national development.
Following Ghana’s independence in 1957, what tangibles can the citizenry identify as achievements? Comparatively, Malaysia and Singapore, which gained independence later than Ghana, are better developed. These two countries have sustained their developments with higher per capita incomes.
Reflecting on Anna Sewell’s assertion that, “it is good people who make good places,” can one conclude that the continuous development of Malaysia and Singapore be attributed to how good their citizens are? What specific attitudes does the Ghanaian citizenry lack that have retarded Ghana’s development? This article provides insight into the role that good attitudes in citizens play in achieving sustainable development for posterity.
Jerald Greenberg defines attitude as a combination of relatively stable beliefs, feelings, and intentions that influence a person’s behaviour towards an object. The attitude object within the context of this article may be persons, families, establishments, societies and nations.
Attitude formation passes through three main stages - one’s thoughts about the attitude object, one’s feelings because of the thoughts, and one’s attitude based on the outcome of one’s feelings and thoughts.
Greenberg explained that the relatively stable nature of formed attitudes made them difficult to change. What are the thoughts of the Ghanaian citizenry? How do these thoughts affect the citizenry’s feelings to form and display undesirable attitudes that bedevil the nation and as a result, inhibit sustainable progress?
From observations, the thoughts of the Ghanaian citizenry may be attributed to the upbringing of most children, which are influenced by the colonial mentality and the local culture. Children are made to learn to be seen but not heard in their homes. This kind of upbringing falls short of developing traits such as self-efficacy, assertiveness, creativity, innovativeness, and external locus of control in children.
Also, it lacks progressive voluntary acts and citizenship, boldness to take calculated risks that promote economic independence, hard work, and commitment to safeguarding national property.
More so, formal education has not been able to train students to have an independent mindset. These shortfalls in formal and informal education among others have influenced the citizenry to develop negative attitudes that inhibit individual successes and overburden the few who strive to be successful through ethical means.
Another negative attitude is the easy generalisation of issues without authentic facts leading to prejudice and stereotyping acts without basis. For instance, an individual’s inability to achieve great success means nobody in their social group can. As such, anyone who can do so is judged and condemned as using foul means. Indeed, bad people are doing bad things, and likewise are there very good people who stick to their good values and keep doing good things.
These undesirable attitudes can be changed to create a better future for posterity as attested by Marie Osmond in her statement: “the greatest discovery of all times is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude”.
In the case of Malaysia and Singapore, some of the identified positive attitudes that have contributed to their rapid development are their disciplined nature, independent mindsets for survival, diligence, time consciousness, adherence to existing laws, innovation and creativity, and environmental protection attitude, among others. They are also responsible citizens who have their nation’s progress at heart.
Given the above and the realisation that each geopolitical arena is unique, it is recommended that Ghana embrace its unique local attitudes that can lead to its positive development as well as the best practices of Malaysia and Singapore. The nation needs to inculcate positive attitudes in children by adults setting good examples for emulation. Propagating positive attitudes through continuous adult education in the traditional media, as well as local communities in the nation can lead to a chain of positive outcomes as opined by Wade Boggs in his statement —
“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, and it sparks extraordinary results.” The fact that attitudes are relatively difficult to change does not mean they cannot be changed; surely, they can be altered. Conscious efforts with constant reminders will yield needed results. Let us develop good attitudes towards building a good Ghana for future generations.
The writers are lecturers at Ashesi University