Less than two weeks ago, droves of Ghanaians packed Independence Square for one of the largest gatherings in Ghana’s history. The kick-off to that conference, Greater Works, saw Pastor Mensa Otabil give the nation a riveting word of encouragement that energised and inspired people across the land and reverberated across the continent.
For 40 days, he had led the world in prayer and fasting – for your nation – and for this continent. Then he boldly challenged Africa to get off its knees and stand up to your economic captors. It was refreshing because African voices of self-determination are n’t so common these days.
Then came a news story that made me wonder: does Ghana even know what a patriot looks like? Did colonialism so deeply penetrate your psyche that you distrust and attempt to destroy any good thing that comes from your homeland?
Because rather than follow up stories on how to achieve the 20% minimum annual growth Dr Otabil prophesied at Greater Works; rather than stories examining why you follow the advice of nations whose economies aren’t even growing beyond 1% themselves; rather than the most significant question – why do you believe that it is in the interest of the same nations that colonised and enslaved you to turn around and give you viable strategies to bring about your transformation?
Yes, rather than writing stories about these questions, Ghana’s news media went instead for speculation, fear-mongering, and character assassination. It seems they ’d rather obstruct due process and fast-track to the court of public opinion than to apply critical thought to the challenge Dr Otabil put before them.
At a time when the nation should have been having townhall district meetings to discuss what industry it is going to put national resources and mass support behind in order to nurture home-grown results and profits like those achieved by Facebook, they reverted to the national pass time of tearing down its own.
To me this highlights two things:
1. That journalism in this country is immature, reactionary and a hindrance to a strong democracy;
2. That Ghanaians are more prepared to scapegoat and react to inconclusive speculation than to think seriously about things that could actually transform your country. Until the full report is concluded, don’t you think a man who has had a longstanding record of integrity, a man who guides and encourages you every week, and a man who has poured so much into this nation, deserves the benefit of the doubt? It is unfathomable for me, as an African American to think of speaking of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X or W.E.B DuBois in the way Dr. Otabil is mentioned. Each of those men had their shortcomings – and thought I am not suggesting that what is being said about Dr. Otabil is true - you simply don’t trash your treasure unless you are certain it is spoiled.
Like you, I don’t truly know what happened. I don’t believe a 60-year-old tree will suddenly change its fruit. But we’ll all have to wait and see. If I’m being honest, Ghana looks like a nation that doesn’t want to win. Rather than doing the work to improve the country, the populace – from top to bottom - is so easily and consistently drawn to unfruitful conversations that perpetuate the sense that you will never do better.
I feel very sorry for Dr. Otabil. While he’s trying to inspire and ignite a New Africa, his countrymen are insisting on maintaining the same, old, dysfunctional, self-destructive one.
I also feel bad for Ghana’s future. I think you’ve betrayed one of the best among you. And I will never understand why you eat your heroes and sell your own.
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