History shows that, Ghana was the first country in Sub Saharan Africa to gain independence from its Colonial masters. Our name Gold Coast depicts how rich we were during the colonial days and even up to date, we are still the custodian of natural resources the world yearns for. God put Ghana and Africa as whole on a land where poverty was supposed to be nonexistent but for some reason, we are the custodian and the heritage of poverty. Ghana having cocoa, gold, bauxite, timber and recently oil signifies a country that was born to enjoy success and not lack. Our oil find has turned out to be a curse rather than a blessing as we don’t see the impact of it in our pockets. These natural resources spread across Africa as a whole and that shows how God has blessed the continent.
What really baffles my mind is how the richest continent can inhabit the poorest people.
This doesn’t make sense to me and our resources are what attracted the Europeans to Africa. The Portuguese were the first to arrive on our coast. After the arrival of the Portuguese in 1471 and their success to trade slaves, gold, knives, beads, mirrors, guns and rum to the detriment of the people but to the advantage of our Chiefs and elders, these paved way for the Dutch, British, Danish and the Swedes traders to also arrive on our shores.
Prior to gaining independence, we had blamed the white man for all the challenges we had faced in life. Even up to date, we still hold our colonial masters responsible for slavery and other atrocities meted to us during the colonial days. The fact is, that is true since they exploited us for their selfish interest and economic gain. The question is, for how long can we continue to blame them?
Because we felt they were taking advantage of us by exploiting us, we decided to fight for independence. Thus, we started to run our own affairs under the leadership of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah after he orchestrated our independence from the British who were our colonial masters on the 6th of March 1957. The question is, have we succeeded in running our own affairs better than our colonial masters? If not, what is the root cause of our challenges and why have we not been able to turn our situation around after 59 years of independence?
After independence, we were one of the economic powers of Africa and the world at large. According to Dambisi Moyo’s book, Dead Aid, she questions why ‘Ghana and Singapore had roughly the same income levels in the 1950s and now they are poles apart’? At the time, our resources were able to sustain our population, Akosombo Dam was enough to provide us with power, we had a lot of factories that were running efficiently, the educational system was vibrant and Ghana was the heart that made Africa alive. Many Ghanaians who went abroad for advanced education, came back to drive the economy forward with their expertise. The economy was stable and structures put in place by our colonial masters were strong to provide an economic drive to success. Where did we go wrong?
Things went wrong because when our colonial masters left; they gave us seeds in the form of infrastructure, institutions and systems that could have been used to build a better Ghana. However instead of sowing the seeds and harvesting them to multiply the seeds, we rather decided to eat the seeds. The seeds handed to us got finished as a result of corruption, mismanagement and experiencing one coup d’état after another which eventually destabilized Ghana and the whole African sub region. Over time, we run out of seeds and started looking for alternative supplies of the seeds which came at a cost. We consulted our colonial masters for help and since then, we have been at their beck and call. They have decided to provide us the seeds we need in the form of aid.
This form of aid by which our former colonial masters and present day superpowers provide us with resources to help us survive, thereby dictating the pace and direction of our economic progress could be the new definition of Neocolonialism.
According to a report by the daily mail in August 2013, the British government which happened to be our colonial masters, over a 5 year period will give Ghana £460 million as aid. Is that independence on dependence? This is dependence and I believe we should consider changing the Independence Day celebration to dependence day celebration.
Ghana recently celebrated its 59th Independence Day on 6th March, a very colorful event with past presidents, incumbent political leaders, opposition leaders, diplomats, media personnel and the people in a joyous moment chaired by our President, John Dramani Mahama. It was also an honor to have President Uhuru Kenyatta gracing the occasion. He is a man I respect so much with the hope he is inspiring in Kenya. However we showed our incompetence during the celebration; one of the core reasons for our stunted growth as a country since independence. I can’t believe the brochure for the celebration had so many mistakes to the extent that it had Uhuru Kenyatta listed as the president of Ghana. How embarrassing can that be? A letter of Ghana’s Information Service Department in apologizing for the numerous errors in the brochure had a wrong date written on their letter i.e. the date was January 12, 2016 instead of March 7, 2016. These show incompetence and a lackadaisical attitude to work. How can we succeed with such an attitude? This is unpardonable and for the leaders who are paid and not doing their job, we grant them interviews, providing them a bigger platform to exhibit their ignorance. This kind of attitude, mismanagement and lack of leadership transcends in all other departments across the country especially the public sector. We need to start getting serious about ‘change’ as that is the only way to turn the tables. Been responsible and selfless is the key to bringing a paradigm shift to a deteriorating country.
Therefore to be 59 in real life means you have one year to your pension age. The question is, if Ghana was a working class individual, it would have been going on pension next year; has Ghana done something substantive to warrant a good pension? To get ready for pension or retirement, most people invest in a fund that that is more likely to pay less than present earnings. To really earn a good salary during your pension, you need to invest heavily towards that future. Hence pension planning can be a risky investment as it defines planning your life today so as to earn a return on your investment that can be lower than your future expenditure.
I remember I once asked my father who was on pension about the whereabouts of his friends and the answer was shocking. Almost 7 out of 10 of his friends were dead. I asked him why and the answer was, going to pension on a meager salary is a recipe for early grave. To be honest I was shattered to hear that and this kept me thinking about the need for me to plan for my future. To me, I believe this is what will happen to Ghana if it were a working class individual. Without mincing words, Ghana would have definitely lived a few months after going on pension and then die like my father’s friends who had not invested anything that will lead to harvesting a good pension. Our current state as a country shows that we don’t plan ahead, we haven’t also invested in our future and our life seems to be like a pay as you go rather than a line rental contract.
Why are we where we are now? Who is responsible for the non-progress of our country? Is it too late to dream of the possibility of getting out of the dungeon of our challenges? What is the way forward? The answer to all the questions above means that, we all have a role to play to bring us to that successful page that we need to be. That means we need to learn models that works and the Political Leaders; the People and our Children all have a role to play in securing our future. Hence the following are recipe for success;
Ghana Must Learn Models that Works.
However going forward, we need to learn different models that have worked for different countries and learn to integrate them into our systems is prerequisite for success. Malaysia was on the same page with Ghana in the early 90s but they have moved on to an upper middle income country status whilst we are on the road to attaining the Highly Indebted Poor Country status (HIPC). What are some of the models that we can learn from them, what they did differently and how can we integrate some of their success stories into ours.
One of the presidents of Africa that I admire so much and is showing great leadership but has not been in the presidency business for long is the President of Tanzania, John Magufuli. Many say it is too early to praise him. That is true but I rather want to challenge African leaders too that, it’s never too late to learn. What he has done within a short space of time as president needs to be emulated by other African countries if they want to succeed. He is a man that I would say goes for the goal and anything else is secondary. Not a lot of men will have the courage to do what he has done in a short period of his reign. Three weeks into office, he cancelled the celebration of Tanzanian independence celebration events with the aim of reducing public waste; he targets corruption with surprise visits and sackings, he has slashed the cabinet from 30 to 19 members, merging some ministries to create a lean government and cracking down on lavish state events and banning inessential foreign state travels of politicians. The question I asked myself was, is Ghana doing better than Tanzania? Why wouldn’t Ghana emulate the same principle by canceling an Independence Day celebration that does not reflect on its meaning? This scenario of Ghana celebrating Independence Day is the representation of a poor person who is extravagant with his available scarce resources and also has wrong priorities in life. It takes a man of vision, a strong mindset and a purposeful leader to break traditions like cancelling an Independence Day celebration. To succeed in life, these are some of the strong and difficult decisions one has to make and Ghana is no exception if we want to turn our current economic predicaments around. We need to start sowing the few seeds in our hands. Over time we will multiply our seeds and become independent of our colonial seed donors.
The Political Leaders
One of the greatest challenges in Africa is leadership. Leadership is nonexistent in Ghana and even if it exists, its impact on making a difference in the lives of the people is insignificant.
Great leadership gives birth to other leaders that grow to become great leaders and not followers.
The worse things that can be done by anyone in life is to know the truth but decide to do otherwise. That is the lot of our leaders today. Majority of our leaders were trained abroad, have the exposure and the know-how to establish great leadership, but they prefer to make things worse for the people. They have one agenda and that is to concentrate on their selfish interest to the detriment of the people. That is why corruption, armed robbery, ineffective rule of law, nepotism and neocolonialism has become the order of the day in Ghana. These have become a cultural practice in our political leadership. However, this kind of cultural practices that affects society in a negative way is more dangerous than an addictive drug or substance. How can we wean ourselves from these cancerous factors impeding our progress to economic vibrancy? The people, who are suppose to call the political leaders to book and make them accountable are either for or against the political leaders depending on their political affiliation. Hence one of our biggest challenges as a nation is our inability to be objective in our political decisions. Ghana can work again if our leaders start to do things right and to do this, the citizenry has a big role to play.
There is a saying that, if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. However, though the people of Ghana are doing their best, there are some bad nuts making things worse by abusing the system for their selfish gain. I know the private sector is doing a great job to be part of the solution, but there is more room for improvement. The problem with Ghana and Africa as a whole is that, the people complain about the government but they do go ahead to do what they are accusing the government of. Typical example is bribery and corruption. The people engage in it in their offices but they blame the government for any iota of corrupt activities engaged in.
Some people, in their subconscious mind, see it as a small sin that can be pardoned by God and that of government a gateway to hell.
For this reason, we need to have a revolution of the mind and people who believe that Ghana can work again must start to influence the people around them positively. We all have a role to play to curb the inefficiencies in our society. Keeping quite is a death trap for you and generations to come but expressing your views can make a difference in the lives of the people. The revolution of the mind starts now, to influence the people around us in a more positive way that will create a new wave of trust in our society.
The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6, ‘train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it’. Are our political leaders and even the elders and parents showing great leadership worth emulating by our children? To really think about our current political dispensation where politician’s trade insults and fight in broad daylight means we have lost the leadership plot capable of shaping the minds of our children. Our children and the youth are the future generations, hence we need to teach and direct them to a path where they will be keen in making a difference and not towing the path that will replicate and complicate our existing predicament.
It’s difficult teaching the older generation new ways of doing things as they are accustomed to the old ways. For instance, weaning corruption from their DNA can be a huge and difficult task. Hence teaching our children to know the cost and the consequences of corruption, the meaning of honesty, integrity and transparency means they will grow with a positive mental attitude that will reflect on a society leading them to ask, ‘what I can do for my country instead of what my country can do for me’ as quoted by John F. Kennedy. Therefore our best bet is to develop the mindset of our children to understand the ‘new tricks of life’ that can shape the destiny of our nation to success.
In conclusion, Ghana in terms of democracy is young but that is not an excuse. The fact is, our intentions and actions determine whether we are serious about overcoming our problems or not. The best thing in life is to know your problems. However deciding not to do anything about it is like being on death row. If Ghana has cancer, I think we would have reached stage five which is terminal stage likely to kill it any time soon. Therefore the chemotherapy to treat the cancerous cells preventing us from meeting our goals must start now. We can’t continue this way as a nation where blatant lies are covered and accepted, where one rule works for one and not others. We have a long way to go in turning our situation around. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a step. The first step is obviously insignificant to covering your thousand miles journey. However the consistency of your steps is what will bridge the gap to your destination of success. Hence we need to be consistent in our approach to bring Ghana to where it’s supposed to be on the economic ladder. Therefore we can turn our situation around by doing what is right, teaching our children the best way to make a difference in life, by the people holding our leaders accountable and the political leaders showing great leadership that will inspire a new wave of belief and hard work that will bring total transformation to our generation.
Always remember it is possible if only you believe?
Ghana must work again and it starts from me and you. God bless Ghana and the people.
Author: Oscar Bimpong is a Media Persona, Inspirational Speaker and an Entrepreneur. He is the current Double R.E.E.B.A (Regional Entrepreneur Empowerment Business Awards) Award winner as the best Inspirational Speaker and Businessman of the Year, 2015. He is also the CEO of Train2inspire Consultancy which is a business training firm for SMEs and corporate entities based in London but with a strategic focus on the African Market.
As a media personnel, he is the General Manager of Zipped Multimedia, has a weekly radio and TV talk show on Zipped Radio & TV respectively with the motive to inspire our generation to achieve their dreams in life. Oscar has inspired many in life with his thought provoking practical ideas and his passion is to inspire change in the lives of people. Hence he loves to speak at Conferences, Churches and Seminars to drive a mindset revolution that will take you to your destination of success. Subscribe to his daily Inspirational Messages dubbed, Inspirational Wisdom for Today (IWFT) on Whatsapp on +447703508552 or join the IWFT group on Facebook.
For more info, please visit www.train2inspireconsultancy.com or email Oscar@train2inspireconsultancy.com.