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Last weekend, I was at Alliance Francaise in Accra to see Nii Ayi Solomon’s latest play, Chains and Shackles. The story reenacted how the slave trade began? how Ghanaians sold their own brothers off without butting an eyelid. Themed on greed and selfishness, the plot unveiled how heartless man could be for selling his brother for a pittance!
I could see the sigh of relief on the faces of some audience who may have been rejoicing that they were born in a dispensation where slave trade was only a thing of the past. Their hearts may have been gladdened because they are supposedly fortunate not to have suffered the greed of their own blood. Well… this may not be entirely true.
We are still bound by chains and shackles after so many years of the abolishment of the slave trade. Today, we still have slave masters. Unfortunately, this time, they are in suits? political suits. We are living in times where our freedom fighters double as our slave masters!
I read a joke somewhere on social media recently that times are so hard that if a slave ship was to dock today at any of the Ghanaian ports, many will voluntarily hand themselves in to the whites while a lot more would bring their own chains and shackles lest they complain of shortage. In other words, people are so desperate to flee from the country even if it meant going through another cruel slave trade again.
That Facebook post sounded funny and sad at the same time. It was a quintessential description of how tired and disappointed people are in our leadership. If a people reach that point where they think slavery in another man’s land would be better than freedom in their own country, it reveals how they are struggling to survive in the land of their birth.
There is still slave trade today? a trade where those we elect to solve our problems become a problem we need to solve. Greed has eaten so much into our society that it sometimes looks like the nation would have even been better without independence. Apparently, the black man who was in haste to manage his own affairs was only in haste to enrich himself first.
It broke my heart to see that this year alone, close to 200 Ghanaians were knocked down by vehicles on the Adenta-Madina stretch of road just because someone didn’t build footbridges they were supposed to… aside all the non-functioning street lights. It had to take demonstrating citizens to get the attention of our leadership.
Well, a famous politician wasn’t a victim so it took forever to get anyone’s attention. But for the uproar, the whole community could have perished on that road because their lives were not as important as just one politician. A typical case of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”.
In the ‘Animal Farm’ called Ghana, those who lambasted others for some wrongs only got into power to repeat those same wrongs. Call it a cycle of wrongs. Our problems never get solved because politics almost always gets in the way of every single thing here. As long as the rot benefits a faction, wrong is right to them.
It’s 2018 but we are still in fetters. It’s the 21st century but we have still been bound in chains and shackles by those who were supposed to have set us free. Every four years, we go to the polls to vote for our prayer topic for the next four years because the plot of the Ghanaian story never seems to change. The corruption never gets any less. Songs of profligate expenditure keep being sung in our ears.
Slavery is assumed to be no more but those we elect to give us freedom from our poverty only end up freeing only themselves and their families. Untold hardships are brought upon the masses because in Africa, the only way to get away with a crime is to wear a political suit. You can loot all you can and no one gives a hoot!
The irony of our politics is that those we elect to be servants instead become our masters. They cruise in all the good cars and live luxuriously at the expense of the masses. They are exempted from all hardships so they can only imagine how the common Ghanaian tries to survive in the event of price hikes of basic commodities. They don’t understand and that’s what modern day slavery looks like!
If you live in a country where the poor becomes suddenly rich after four years in power, you should be worried. Very worried. If you come from such a place where politics is one sure bet to riches, you need to ask some damn questions. There needs to be a lot of questioning lest the victims of this system live in chains and shackles forever.
Politics in Africa has become like a life-changing room where anyone who enters must not exit same. Your family will even curse your corpse should you die a poor politician. Together, we have raised a generation of leaders who assume that the only thing better than a lie is a bigger lie. And… they keep singing to us a lullaby of lies to keep us dozing in modern slavery. Let’s clap for ourselves!
The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications, an Accra-based writing company (www.scribecommltd.com).
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