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Ghana's Societal Decay - Causes and Proposed Solutions

Ghana's Societal Decay - Causes and Proposed Solutions

Tue, 31 Jul 2012 Source: Danso, Kwaku A.

By Kwaku A. Danso

There is no doubt that the society of Ghana has fallen over the last few decades in ethical and moral standard, both in private and public sectors. Our people have ceremonies and our libations, supposedly to symbolize a tradition that should stand on ethical principles and remembers the good deeds of our ancestors.

In a recent discussion on GLU forum, I showed the picture of the libation pouring with the new President Mahama (courtesy of Myjoyonline.com) and asked what the value of that libation pouring was to Christian ethics. Cameron Duodu responded:

CD: The pouring of libation is not the same as "prayer" (defined literally) in the Christian sense. It is to invoke strength in a current difficult situation by remembering that such things have also happened in the past and are universally present in daily human life. The names of old, dead but courageous or sagacious persons are recalled (with the tacit understanding that their courage/sagacity will be remembered, and used as an inspiration in the present difficulty. The rivers etc are mentioned to remind the living of the permanence of existence on earth (drink to thee, oh Asaase Yaa --Earth!) and the need to preserve and respect the environment. At the end of the exercise, everyone is psychologically strengthened, without necessarily expecting that magic will occur -- through the agency of ghosts or fetishes -- to relieve people from their current difficulties. Self-fortification is the objective (helped by the "Dutch courage" induced by drink!) Just ask yourself: would ALL the people have the same ancestors, fetishes or rivers? Impossible. Why would anyone pray to an unknown entity? Suppose that entity turned out to be malign towards oneself or one's family? Missionaries have linked libation with superstition, in order to eliminate our self-belief and replace it with missionary-inspired beliefs, but it ain't necessarily so! (CD, GLU Forum, Sunday, 29 July 2012, 14:43)

I asked: Can somebody help me with some written code of moral and ethical codes under which, assuming that we accept all these gods or Gods, or religions, we can hold people accountable if they violate rules and laws of the land, on both religious, moral and legal grounds.

CD: Yes, there is a code: at the end of the libation, the pourer says: "Don't let our genitalia fail in their allotted function!" And everybody says "Zioh!" (Hear Hear). "When we sleep with a woman, let us produce a child!" (Zioh mpa!) The pourer then continues: "Don't let us fall foul of the constituted authority" (Mma yennya Aban mu amane.) This is a warning to all that "Aban mu amane" is a dangerous thing to fall into the hands of authority: you can be locked up with a wooden stock wobeda duam) or if the offence warrants it, "yebetwa wo ti" (your head will be lobbed off.) There was more obedience of the law then than now. (Read R S Rattray: Asante Law and Constitution). (CD, GLU forum, Sunday, July 29, 2012 7:04 AM)

I am glad our senior brother Cameron Duodu finds time to bring his wisdom to this debate of the deterioration in ethics and morals in our society so that the younger ones will know that there was a time Ghanaians were a more moral and ethically oriented people. We did not have to scare people with fetish killing for officials to remain ethical on their jobs. And we had enforcement of laws and rules - people used to be sent to prison for mismanagement and misappropriation of funds. I don't know what is wrong with our Law School now why the AG office seems incapable of even filing cases.

I think the degradation in the moral and ethical nature of our people in society is simply economically induced, and caused by a culture where men in particular find it hard to admit they are short of money, especially to their family. I think our men (and women of course due to greed), have been forced to engage in illegal activities simply because of social pressure. The causes are: 1. A CULTURE - as mentioned above, where men will not admit when they have financial difficulties and hence will rather compromise on integrity and cut deals under the table; 2. A CULTURE where women don't ask their husbands where they got the money to buy that new car! Or even ask what kind of work their husbands do; 3. WESTERN EDUCATION - which raised our standards of expectations. In other words because you have been to school, it should be a white collar job; for example my sister refuses for her son to even listen to a Business plan I had for him to employ some trucks to bring food from the village and he directs the distribution. They just don't get the vision! 4. URBANIZATION - which makes the need for relying on jobs other than Agro- based industries and direct products from the farms. I did some calculations, and actually could see how Kwabena Darko could get rich. Farming or rather food production and distribution is the number one need of humans and largest industry. Why are Ghanaians not getting involved and we have to import Zimbabwean farmers and now Cargill to sell us seeds. Woe unto those who start using those seeds. I just tried some seeds in my backyard garden and the amount of water, morning and evening and yet very little yield - one tomato fruit so far from the four plants and still watering! Seedlings I doubt will grow.

These all combined to make the Educated Ghanaian more corrupt in public office. Government employees feel they have to make the same amount of money or show off wealth as those in private sector business, and that was crazy! SOLUTIONS: 1. Learn how to collect taxes through modernization, personal and property identification, and computerization; 2. Let the concept of Budgeting be mandatory taught to all at the University and even Secondary School level and demand standard format of Revenue and Expenditure type of Budgeting and stop the essay writing budgets. The Ministry should not be ashamed to ask for help; I won't mind a pro-bono work to teach them Computerized Accounting and Budgeting design formats; 3. Pay all government workers what is fair and stop the benefits such as house, petrol car, and let them pay taxes; and make it open; 4. Push the Speaker of the House to enforce the Auditor Generals reports and put people in prisons every year who violate laws; 5. The Presidents should demands real work from his Ministers, to avoid risking mediocrity for another 20,40, 50 years till the right taskmaster arrives to crack the whip. 6. Have independent pollsters evaluate performance of all public executives, from the President and his Ministers and MPs, MDCEs, and where there is a high level of dissatisfaction, use recall elections to remove non-performing executives.

Kwaku A. Danso (Contact: dansojfk@gmail.com )

Kwaku A. Danso, M.Eng., PhD (Organization & Management/Leadership) Livermore, California, USA & East Legon-Accra, Ghana Tel. 925-292-8042 (USA PST) President - Ghana Leadership Union (NGO), Moderator-GLU and GLF Forums. http://groups.google.com/group/glu-ghana-leadership-forum?hl=en?hl=en

Author: Leadership Concepts and the Role of Government in Africa: The Case of Ghana

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Columnist: Danso, Kwaku A.