Opinions Mon, 2 Sep 2013

Ghana Our Homeland!

At about 8:30 on a weekday morning in the month of March 1998, our primary six teacher walked in, elegantly as usual, looking upright and chest out with a tight pair of khaki trousers and a white calico long sleeve top to match a serious posture. The rhythmic cocky sound that accompanied his footsteps was unequivocal of the attempts at which the heels of his black pair of tap shoes unsuccessfully dug into the concrete floor of our classroom. He had a message and it was perplexing, as many of his messages. He often mistook us for some advanced class and would tell us some major stories in the national newspaper, the Daily Graphic. He read it every morning.

As the class captain I looked out the entrance for approaching teachers every time and would shout: “Class Stand, Greet”, then the entire class would rise and roar a “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon”, depending on the time of day.

“How are you all?” was his response after our greeting. “We are fine, thank you sir” was the follow up response before he would order us all to sit down.

“This week the most powerful man in the world would be in the country. Students in the capital would line up the streets and welcome him with songs and waves of our national flag.” And that was his morning message.

I didn’t know what to make of it, but as the day wore on, I began to wonder what the most powerful man in the world would look like. I wondered about his height, his size and his voice. The anxiety began to build; and I prayed for the day to go faster.

Later in the evening, I was the first person in my dad’s living room after supper. My dad was one of few people with a color T.V in the neighborhood. We had people cramp into our house every evening to watch news and movies. We didn’t get GTV, the State broadcaster very often, even with the highest erected antenna in the neighborhood. So that evening, as many times, it appeared black and white, with little dots of obstruction that we liked to call “wasawasa”, synonymous with a popular Hausa dish of very minute balls of black or gray flour.

Much to my surprise, he didn’t roar with the kind of voice I expected to hear; he didn’t look any wider or larger than the president of my country; except he smiled incessantly and everybody listened very attentively when he spoke. I don’t remember his words but he spoke like he ruled the world. And they called him Bill Clinton.

A similar anxiety came over me yesterday morning as I woke up and grabbed my computer and opened the news sites in Ghana to read and watch news about what was going to be the biggest judicial ruling in the history of our nation. I scrambled for all the sites at once and saw nothing happening. I got on Facebook and realized many people have even been waiting longer than me. As the anxiety built on, and as I read other people’s Facebook posts, it dawned on me, that the most powerful man in the country today, with the rest of his colleagues, had been given the opportunity to either affirm or rewrite the destiny and direction of the country. They called him Atuguba. As I waited and thought through it, a smiled finally cracked through my lips, brushing away the anxiety. The smile was a sense of pride for the country I call my home. That, whilst the Supreme Court was determining the winners and losers of a political case in Ghana; in Egypt, the military is; and arbitrarily. That whilst aggrieved parties chose the courts to seek Justice, In Ivory Coast, armed rebels determined what happened. I’m in no way attempting to denigrate any of these countries.

In 2008 the most powerful man in the world visited Ghana again and allegedly flirted with the idea of establishing a U.S military base. The roaring and barking of civil society groups and civil rights activists at that news, spoke to the firmness and resistance at which the people of Ghana were willing to go to set their own examples. George Bush was his new name.

A year later, he came back with a new message, and one for which he got a standing ovation. “The twenty first century will be shaped, by what happens not just in Rome or Moscow or Washington, but by what happens in Accra as well”, Obama told the Ghana Parliament.

That our insatiable desire to set our own great examples has become the magnet that draws the world’s attention onto us.

Finally, the moment came and the most power set of nine men in the country, spoke. It was short and simple. In a matter of four minutes, the landmark verdict was delivered on an eight-month unprecedented electoral petition case.

That our determination to continuously choose peace over violence; rule of law over fisticuffs, became the highlight of the aftermath; epitomized by the gesture and speech of the newest most admired statesman in the country, Nana Akufo-Addo: “Everything in my bones, in my upbringing and in what I have done with my life thus far makes it imperative that I accept a decision made by the highest court of the land, however much I disagree with it”.

That in spite of our differences, hand in hand, we continue to stand by each other and head to head, reason together. That due to our collective quest for a better Ghana in its truest sense, we have been moving forward, living true to the words of our first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah : “Together we have nothing to fear but ourselves and nothing to lose but our chains.”

May God bless Our Homeland Ghana and continue to make us great and strong.

John Taden


Texas A&M University
Columnist: Taden, John