Ghana is the most difficult place to be a young person

Wed, 7 Dec 2011 Source: Arthur, Patrick Kobina


Ghana’s culture falsely equates old age to maturity and this is insisted

upon at every forum and situation. If you are younger and dared to be

confident in your vision and abilities, you are quickly and recklessly

regarded as disrespectful and insolent. If the old folks believe that they

have all the wisdom in the world and prefer to be in complete control of

affairs, is it then not accurate for me to state that they are fully in

charge of the poverty generation and disease embattled society that exist

in Ghana.The old bury their achievements and watch the young and new

struggle to begin from scratch and they sit with their old wisdom wondering

why poverty exists. Having their hands on all the wealth of this poor

country but unwilling to spend on education, research and development.

Suffocating the thoughts of the young and turning around to point that

finger into their face in anguish, accusing the young of lacking knowledge.

I was peeved into writing this piece by what a government official said

recently in Ghana.

*Children of Children:*

Many here are born to people who barely understood life and living before

welcoming a newborn into the world. People grow old by any means and anyhow

and now, the fact that they lived longer than others somehow accords them

the right to most times humiliate the young at every turn. If you lived

successfully, then you must know that the greatest treasure of this life is

to be young and young at heart. They will not look at the youth with

disdain and pity, youthfulness is a great treasure and I will not be in a

hurry to be old and actually will refuse to be old.

I love being young and I will always encourage the young people to cherish

their youth, dream and aspire as though the whole world depended on their

dreams. The life of the world is for us to create, to contribute in

synthesizing the needed structures driven by love and empathy.

*Moral Dyslexia:*

Those who insist youthfulness is not profitable, that those who have not

seen their number of years on this earth are far inferior that themselves,

please seek redemption because you are suffering from a moral dyslexia.

Unable to read through the logical scripts life has given us, life’s

greatest gift is the young and the new, that youthfulness is the greatest

treasure to the world. The young, the youthful and the young at heart, life

is on your side, do not allow those who believe their best is in the past

to rob you of your joy. The best is always yet to come, never embrace the

delusional precepts of those who have no hope left and can only draw from

the wells of antiquity. I shudder to think of a country and by extension a

continent that cherishes the dead and devotes so much time and expense at

according the dead a dignified farewell. Cloth the dead in sparkling shroud

and leave millions of children naked, hungry and attending school under

death traps called classrooms. Wake up people, the young is your greatest


*The root cause of endemic poverty is low maturity levels:*

The greatest treasure any parent can bequeath to their young is a strong

sense of maturity, a strong desire to dream and to envision life in the

best of its glory. There is no need to wait and watch the child pick up the

life of their own. Go on and tell them to dream and aspire the moment you

can assure yourself that the child can hear and understand you. Once they

have imbibed the holistic sense of maturity, you can relax and believe that

they will bring out their precious gifts and talents.

In Ghana, even one’s own family will never value them until they are the

only old persons around and then they take their turn to repress the

younger people. Somehow, people who bask in their old age are under the

illusion that only the old is the best, that you are never good enough

until you are the only old person around. Immature due to the repression of

the old folks, poverty is inevitable, without the desire and the skill to

create or acquire the essentials of life. Old and finally absolutely in

charge but lacking creative youthful days, there is nothing you can do but

corrupt the system further and take all the goodies. And we still wonder

why Africa’s future has been taken hostage by corrupt office holders (no

leaders here)?

*To live longer is to live young for long:*

Youthfulness is so despised sometimes in Ghana; to be young is to be

unheard, never speaking, grievously dependent and forbidden from dreaming

dreams and seeing visions. This has enforced in the young people a relaxed

attitude towards life and responsibility, not to think of independence of

attitude and will. Look at the younger members of the Atta Mills

administration, all they do is to hop from one radio station to the other

yelling insults and insinuations at the top of their voices. Maybe it is

the desire of the older people to be fully in charge thus pushing the young

ministers out just to talking themselves into public relevance.

*Infantilization of young people in Ghana:*

In a country where all that is good and fine in life is reserved for the

old, it will be fair if their claim to such a thrown will have some basic

requirements such as the level of bravery and heroic efforts made. Many

irresponsible fathers abandon their children to the elements of the weather

only to stage a public claim to the riches of these same people. The young

is credited with the lowest level of wisdom and responsibility, made to sit

and wait, pushed off into boring and irrelevant tasks whilst the

totalitarian old folks try to do what they have no idea about. Imagine a

retired teacher in charge of the ministry of education, how do you expect

such a person to revolutionize the education system? The young, creative,

fresh and absolutely frustrated by the existing should have an unparalleled

power to create and revolutionize a system and not the old and retired?

Look at the heroic effort of Mr. Patrick Awuah, a young and visionary man

willing to impact this country and continent through the Ashesi University


A government official stands up and declares, “*Youth of today are not

serious about life- Sena Dansua”.* Not true!! Rather too many old people

have given up on life. Madam Minister, please understand that majority of

the old people in Ghana have long given up on life, and they are stampeding

the youth and suffocating their thoughts and visions to the point of

despair. So stop blaming the youth and rather clear the old folks out of

the way.

*To be Young means full of life and living it, the old means passed and


The ideal society is made up of only young people and the young-at-heart;

there is no progressive country for old and retired people. The

young-at-heart are those old people who always appreciate the power of the

youth; the terrible truth is that the young is always better than the old,

more intelligent and even more creative. Otherwise, what is the point of

reproduction? It is criminal not to allow the new to be better than the old

that will not make any biological sense at all. Why procreate lesser

versions of an entity? This does not hold in any industry in the world,

golf 5 is far better than golf 1 so is the power of the two generations of

engineers who created them. I will be personally disappointed if my own

children are not intellectually and creatively more superior than I am. I

even plan to take them to see places at age 10, where I only got the chance

to see at age 31, places like the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

in Washington DC.

*Mature Young and live Forever Young:*

Any one who has read the book “built to last’ by Jim Collins and Jerry

Porras of the Stanford University, would discover that more than 90 % of

the people who created the great, enduring and visionary companies such as

HP, 3M, Merck, were below the age 30. In Ghana life begins at 40, you are

only allowed to begin the process of independence when you turn 40 years

old. One of the universities in Ghana recently set up a committee to draw

the plans for a new research institute, I was appalled to find that all the

committee members were many years into their retirement. How do you expect

this group to create a futurist institution without ideas from young people

working in visionary institutions outside Ghana? The situation in Ghana is

rudimentary in many respects and it stands to reason to look to places of

the Isaac Newtons and the Albert Einsteins of this world.

My appeal to the young in Ghana is this, please take charge and exercise a

full sense of responsibility. Refuse to be intimidated, stampeded and

suffocated by people who ascribe to themselves the monopoly of all wisdom

based on the simple fact that they are older. Ignore any such distractions

and focus, dream dreams, envision a progressive and prosperous future for

yourself and proceed to creating it with your own hands. The power and

creativity to overcome all the difficult situations in this life is on the

side of the young, so proceed in this liberating idea and you will be

impressed how far you reach. Look out of Ghana to the Visionary

personalities and institutions of this world and learn from them.


Patrick Kobina Arthur (PhD),



Columnist: Arthur, Patrick Kobina