By Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo
Attorney and Counselor at Law
Many a Ghanaian psyche has been scarred by daily reports of incessant corruption within the body politic of the country. The first among these reports is the issue of huge judgment debts surreptitiously paid to certain individuals with the patent connivance of certain high level government officials. In this infamous action, the government has become seriously culpable of dereliction of its basic function toward corporate Ghana: instead of performing its fiduciary duty as guardian of the national purse, it has become an accomplice in its utter misappropriation. A computation of these so-called judgment debts so far paid easily wipes off any windfall government may have secured through the oil revenues. Therefore we are in a wash on the revenue in view of this singular act of unprecedented corruption. Need we then be surprised that in spite of the discovery of oil, nothing has changed in the life of the people?
There is also the issue of the scandal where the government connived with others in a spurious project and disbursed a lot of national resources toward a non- existent business enterprise. Many other nepotistic activities that have caused astronomical losses to the country have brought about extreme national disillusionment and ennui amongst the generality of the population. Government’s attempt to reign in the sea of corruption now engulfing it has been justifiably dismissed as some mere window dressing….a laughable act in political histrionics bound to achieve nothing in the long run.
In view of all these sordid events, it has become very difficult for individual Ghanaians to feel any true obligation to sacrifice for the country. A deep-seated resentment and suspicion, unprecedented in its form and nature, exists among the population to the extent where there have been calls for a revolution of one form or another. Like Prof. Cornell West's “signifying monkeys”, certain prominent Ghanaian clergy and politicians have made certain statements that appear to signal to the military to seize power by force of arms. One such statement was made by Dr. Arthur Kennedy who stridently expressed his nostalgia for the June Four Mutiny which brought unto the stage one hitherto unknown individual who virtually presided over a pogrom against the masses of the people.
As a sequel to these well-documented excesses, this same individual staged another coup on December 31, 1981, the ramifications of which saw the likes of Arthur Kennedy and other citizens flee the country because of real threats to their lives. For nineteen years, the path of the nation was studded with the crude nuggets of uncertainty, with routine incidence of extra-judicial killings, confiscation of wealth, expropriation of the people's property and the imposition of perennial curfew on the populace. This foregoing fringe narrative by itself should be enough to characterize the dark era as an epoch of doom against which the whole nation must subscribe to a poignant oath never to return.
Therefore any nostalgia for this terrible epoch must certainly raise hackles, if not outright tantrums, among well-meaning Ghanaians. But it will be naive for us to ignore the subterranean frustrations and putrescent disgust that make such nostalgia conceivable albeit altogether myopic: the nation has sunk into the doldrums of economic and social malaise that have made the days of pogrom look like the times of progress.
But military intervention, if it were to occur, will take us back to the times of hopeless circumnavigation where clueless adventurists feed us with the sawdust of rhetoric while piling up the national treasure into secret vaults for their personal use. If there is anything factual about any revolution, it is that it is the mother of an extreme form of tyranny which it came to rectify. Remember Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt, Libya, Liberia....All revolutions substitute the tyranny of the ruling class with the tyranny of the hungry class. They thrive on hollow shibboleths and empty slogans that only engineer the people's psyche toward fanatical and fantastical images of a non-existent future. In a revolution, the only person truly changing his status is the charismatic leader that usurped power; all things remain the same, and the masses that shouted the initial slogans of redemption are always left with the bitter bread of utter despair.
Thus instead of any nostalgia for the reinstatement of the fake revolution of the doomed past, we as a people must reflect on the positive privileges of our enduring democracy. After all, the palpable legacy of the democratic culture is that it affords us the opportunity to exercise our franchise and change our governments as and when we like. We are also entitled to the freedom of speech, and due process.... There is also the tenacity of our civil order which has never broken down since the beginning of our nationhood. These freedoms may not mean much to a hungry person, but we recognize its value to be very high whenever we are compelled to live without them. We have a certain patriotic duty to look upon these small blessings and take pride in defending them with our very lives….
Sometimes, the things we say about our country and her people, no enemy will ever contemplate them in the darkest catacombs of their mentality. We have called our fellow citizens by the most outrageous of names while still bleating the mantra of patriotism and denouncing the scourge of bigotry afflicting our nation. We have imagined a future life of opulent corruption while condemning those presently ripping off the nation. We engage in cacophony in order to subvert these corrupt leaders not because we want to build the nation, but because we want our turn to dupe it. We go to work and sleep while demanding our share of the national cake. We refuse to reflect on the ways in which to make the nation better, and when the nation teeters to the edge of a precipice, we then turn around to condemn it and cite the very reason for its failed state as an excuse for doing nothing.
We are daily beset with the rebel passion of jealousy, ill-will and hatred for the prospering citizens and concoct terrible ways of pulling them down to our level of abject failure, just for the sake of leveling the common field of non-achievement. We have developed a tunnel vision that makes us look in ideological direction only wherein those that are damned are forever damned even for their immutable characteristics, cultural predilections, sexual orientation or party affiliation. We have subsumed our inherent wisdom under the garbage of extreme prejudice and made mincemeat of the ability to analyze logically and reason effectively. Instead of turning us into dedicated citizens for our country, our education has become a weapon of national destruction with which we exact the most heinous harm upon the psyche of our own people, insulting them, lampooning them, berating them and pooh- poohing them.
And we engage in all the foregoing evils while looking into the skies for a savior to redeem our nation from the present conundrum. Despite our propensity for hypocrisy, we yearn for a veritable deus ex machina who will come and set all things right. And here, we forget that we are no different from those leaders who are now raping the nation with abandon and bringing it to its knees. We forget that those leaders were also like us in the days of yore: people biding their time to inflict the most damaging harm to the nation because of their inherently immoral perspective and their inability to reflect properly on the ways to build a prosperous nation. Indeed like us, they were bigots, traitors and thieves long before they became leaders just as most of us are steeped in immorality and criminal intention and yet still imagine that we will do any better than them should we become leaders.
The way to solve our national problems has nothing to do with any debauched nostalgia of the so-called intrepid years gone by, as Dr. Arthur Kennedy would make us believe. It has nothing to do with our droning noises about the national ills on a daily basis....It has nothing to do with our hollow trumpeting of what would or should or ought to be. It has everything to do with a daily effort to become better persons, to make the types of sacrifices to push our nation forward, and to be agents for the most good to the most people at the most time. As it is, nothing significant will happen to elevate our country until we daily commit to its prosperity by all means necessary.
We are all by ourselves now, left alone to figure out a better path for the coming generation because the present leaders are busy amassing wealth for themselves and care less about the future of our country or its posterity. If we are simply waiting for them to lead us to the promised land, our fate will be like the characters in Samuel Beckett's “Waiting for Godot". In this existential play, the characters sit around waiting in anticipation of their salvation from the beginning of the play to its very end. And of course in the end, nothing happens! The time to act as individuals to save our country has therefor come, and we must begin to look within ourselves in order to work out the salvation of our beloved nation. Ghana is all we have.
Samuel Adjei Sarfo, Doctor of Jurisprudence, is a general legal practitioner in Austin Texas, USA. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org