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Ghana now competing well with hell?

Mon, 10 Aug 2015 Source: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo

If you want to describe the idea of hell in any metaphorical sense, some of the words with which you will describe it are dirty, dark, corrupt, ignorant, dishonest or deprived.

Ghana scored a healthy place in the scheme of dirt when it was recently dubbed the seventh dirtiest country on earth. When a government official tried to parry the position, he glibly explained that the assessors were using unacceptable standards.

He said that they were not looking for dirt in the environment in the real sense of the word but rather how many toilets were in every household, or how many dumpsters were in the community, or how the waste disposal systems had been designed.

Therefore their data was unreliable because it was not based on any actual dirt they found in the Ghanaian communities. The official failed to establish the logical linkage between the fecal fields and filth within the society and the lack of these facilities in the communities.

Now with the “dumsor”, the country is virtually in the palpable darkness akin to that associated with hell. But another government official, putting a spin on this darkness, posited that in the whole of Africa, Ghana was the least affected by electricity fluctuations so we should be proud of our status.

To him, the reality that our people are now having to endure incessant electricity fluctuations is in and of itself immaterial when viewed in the prism of what happens in worse places in Africa. This kind of analysis relies on the lowest of the lowest of standards to make us feel a little better about ourselves, but the comfort it gives us is as a matter of our own low self-esteem and extreme mediocrity.

And regarding corruption, patent versions of this canker have already been chronicled in more eloquent terms in spacious archives. And here, we ruefully recount that our government has used a larger portion of our national treasure to pay up fraudulent judgment debts.

We know about ponzi schemes like Gyeeda, Subah and the rest. We also know that the government has borrowed more money than all of its predecessors but has nothing of substance to show for these gargantuan loans.

We are aware that government officials, depending on propaganda gimmicks, tell us that everything in the economy is under control despite our heavy borrowing.

Recently, Alban Bagbin naively advised the government to tell the people of the good aspects of borrowing all these huge moneys. Well, he has to tell us the “good aspects of borrowing” himself if he knows of any.

Because we are a country endowed with immense natural and human resources, and if all our government does is to borrow money for the most basic things like repairing roads or building schools or supporting the budget, then we are in big trouble.

Then we must ask what happened to those resources like gold, oil, cocoa, timber and diamonds that were exported so that government will take care of regular business and expenditure. When Bagbin tells us of some abstract good things that might come out of loans, he, like many dumb officials, has in mind those everyday infrastructure which the government should be able to provide through the resources of the country if it were doing its work as expected.

If it were not for the existence of extreme corruption and gross inefficiency, there wouldn’t have been any problem with simple functions like repairing roads, building schools, or maintaining government infrastructure, all of which fall squarely within the government’s course of doing business.

Loans are not to be used to pay for recurrent expenditure, or for propping up the currency, or for supporting the budget or for providing for the very things for which government receives taxes and export dividends.

Loans are to be used to provide long term capital intensive projects like transportation, water and energy infrastructure which have generational benefits for the country. And the reason why we are today herding ourselves into the bottomless sea of debts is a simple matter of endemic corruption within our body politic that disenables us to provide these vital needs. Nothing else.

And regarding our illiteracy and ignorance, we have a hell of a place among the comity of nations, having been firmly put at the bottom of the global educational rankings.

When this issue came up for debate, some of our people were in self-denial, pointing out that very few schools in Africa participated in the study, and that if more had participated, we would have been bumped up a bit in the rankings. People maintained this grave fallacy in the face of schools under trees and an extremely deprived teacher corps amongst whom simple chalk is an article of controversy.

And the ignorance of our so-called scientists and engineers who know no science anywhere nor engineer anything anywhere is a matter of common knowledge. Couple that with the untenable beliefs promoted by our religion and culture, and you could safely rank Ghana as one of the most illiterate nations in the whole world.

And regarding our dishonesty, it is equally widespread as in hell. We all pretend that we can run a republican government alongside a feudalistic one by creating a democracy alongside chieftaincy, or by morphing science with superstition. We pretend to be united by a culture which we can neither define nor explain nor justify. We claim to be one nation while incessantly pulling up the ethnocentric mantra against our adversaries.

We have the police pretending to maintain law and order while fostering criminality through constant bribery. We have pastors playing tricks on our minds while stealing offerings and tithes from us and building themselves mansions here on earth while telling us to wait for ours in heaven.

Recently, a traditional leader began banishing dogs and goats from his town because a tragedy befell his people in the big city. Another traditional leader explained to his people that the cause of the flooding that occurred in Accra is evidence that some people who went on a demonstration flouted the gods’ orders and made them angry.

Now, let nobody make the mistake that when people speak or behave like that, they do not have the sense that they are telling lies. They actually do; but we, as a people, have reached the nadir where those who decide to tell lies to us do not have to be too smart about it.

They know of our gullibility and believe that when you tell a lie to a typical Ghanaian, it will easily pass for the truth because we don’t like to ask too many questions.

After all, what we choose to believe has nothing to do with the truth but based on our party loyalty or religious and ethnic affiliation. And we will play along the scope of dishonesty if only to reap some ephemeral benefit.

As in hell, we are deprived in the most basic things in life. Even we cannot pay those who have sweated to work for the country. For over eleven straight months, doctors and teachers and some other category of workers in the country were not paid.

And yet the government officials are buying luxury cars and building their mansions and gas stations all over the place. Many citizens can hardly find three square meals a day or the needed clothing or accommodation.

They don’t even know that elsewhere, this whole notion of hunger is a mere abstraction, and that people actually struggle to avoid food like the plague in order to keep in shape. In this sense, the demands of our people never measure up to much.

All that they are asking from government is to provide roads, schools, electricity, and good drinking water and to properly account for the immense resources of the nation. And yet the government is not capable of these and rather put the people under an extremely bitter Ghana agenda.

And if both the government and the people have thus collaborated to create a vintage hell right here for us, why must any Ghanaian be afraid of any other hell anywhere? We have already been in hell for a long time and cannot ask for more! Long before any of us were born, the predecessors who first decided the fate of our country created a permanent format of leadership ineptitude akin to any conceivable notions of hell, and we as a people, have participated in its construction although we have long been the victims.

We have participated in equal measure in the dirt surrounding us. Our government has not lifted us from the cloud of darkness and corruption and ignorance, and neither have we. We have remained generally dishonest, but those supposed to encourage us to be true to ourselves are themselves found to be mere crooks.

And we are so deprived as a people that when we think any God can create a better hell than that which we have created for ourselves, we are merely taxing the creative imagination of the good God far beyond that which he can truly provide. For whatever sin we and our leaders are committing or can commit today, we are already doing our time in hell.

And in order to lift ourselves out of the catacombs of this hell, we will have to clean our environment every day, and desist from choking the gutters and find innovative ways to dispose of both our liquid and solid wastes, such as digging pits and burying them.

Every Ghanaian should be responsible to clean and drain at least twenty meters from the vestibules of their habitation. We should also refrain from all kinds of corrupt acts in our lives and apply ourselves to constant search for knowledge to lift ourselves out of our ignorance.

We should commit to our own betterment through acts of patriotism and dedication to duty.

In this way, we can in fairness demand from our government proper accountability and the provision of energy, sound drainage systems and proper infrastructure. And if the government fails after we have done our part, then we must exercise the power in our thumb come 2016 to vote it out. We have the power to construct our own bridge from hell to heaven, and let us not lose the opportunity to do so now.

Samuel Adjei Sarfo, Doctor of Jurisprudence, is a general legal practitioner in Austin, Texas, USA.

You can email him at sarfoadjei@yahoo.com

Columnist: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo