By Manasseh Azure Awuni
Serwaa my Love,
I’m very sorry about the nasty exchanges you met in my room when you visited me on campus on Independence Day. I’m writing to tell you that I love and respect you a lot, but I cannot adhere to your advice that I keep off from all forms discussions and debates that are nationalistic or political in nature.
“Mind your own business so that nobody speaks ill of you,” was how you concluded your advice.
I understand your fears, Serwaa. Most ladies do not want to marry politicians. They say they don’t want to say “our husband” instead of “my husband.” I won’t be one, I promise. I won’t be a politician. I’ll remain a journalist. And I’ll forever remain your love. In this world and the other. I love you, Serwaa. I’ll always be proud you’re mine.
I’ll never fail you, Serwaa. In fact, the only treasure I cannot afford to lose in order to have you is Jesus Christ, my Lord and personal saviour.
My love for you notwithstanding, I don’t think I can adhere to your advice. Even though I don’t have the intention of getting into politics, national issues, such as the one we debated, concern our very survival and we must not leave them to political spin doctors. What started as a harmless comment about the state of affairs of our nation sadly degenerated into a political debate that sent us barking, as we each tried to make our points.
Well, I must admit we guys have this deformity we call ego. As a result, if a guy will not admit that he’s wrong, he gets angry. And that was exactly what Andrew Anquandah did. The way he behaved was embarrassing, to say the least. I still cannot understand why a Ghanaian with his sanity intact should justify the intervention of the US in the overthrow of our first president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah? Have they ever truly cared about our welfare apart from their permanent interest?
Serwaa, I’m not a blind supporter of the great leader. I know Kwame Nkrumah had his own faults, but I don’t think I can ever sit down unconcerned as malicious elements continue spread the falsehood and propaganda that preceded and came in the wake of his overthrow.
I agree with his critics when they say he wasn’t democratic enough. That was his biggest flaw, and perhaps the only justifiable reason for his overthrow. But does our democracy today matter to the ordinary Ghanaian?
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?" Mahatma Gandhi wants to know!
What difference does our democracy make to the tens of thousands of girls and women who have become beasts of burden, carrying loads heavier than themselves just to earn a miserable living? What difference does our so-called enviable democracy make to the thousands of young and energetic men and women who line up our streets daily, inhaling deadly fumes from moving vehicles and roasting in the merciless African sun while selling anything they can lay hands on?
What is the essence of our democracy when it is normal that graduates from our universities, polytechnics, and other tertiary institutions do not have jobs?
Democracy is not all about holding elections and changing governments. Democracy is not all about an opportunity for a few lame-minded individuals to go on air and insult, vilify and defame in the name of freedom of speech. There was no democracy and freedom of speech in Gathafi’s Libya, yet we had Ghanaians struggling to get there in order to earn decent livelihood.
The other day, a fellow panellist on Radio Universe’s Behind the Headlines programme said he would not agree with me when I said the best way to mark our independence anniversaries is to declare 6th March a national day of mourning and reflection. But, Serwaa, was I wrong?
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, the Rt. Rev. Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle said something remarkable when he delivered a lecture at the Ghana Institute of Journalism late last year. The soft-spoken Catholic priest said in the 1960s, any Ghanaian who travelled to Europe, America or any part of the world felt very proud of Ghana. He said those of them who travelled abroad were respected so much just because they came from Ghana. Unfortunately, that pride in being Ghanaian is no more. We have lost our national identity. And we must reflect mournfully.
Don’t ask me how we did it. And don’t blame military regimes. It has been 30 years since we had our last military intervention. But one-tenth of what Nkrumah did in 10 years cannot be equalled in all these 30 years. That is why we’re no longer proud of anything about Ghana apart from our football teams. Even that is debatable, huh?
We cannot be proud when after 55 years of independence, we have enough evidence to prove Nkrumah wrong on his assertion that “the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.”
How can we be proud when at age 55, we are constantly assailed by erratic power outages while immediately after independence, we had enough power to supply other countries in the West-African Sub-region? Can we be proud that it is almost impossible to have water flowing through our taps 24 hours a day? But we’re blessed with the biggest man-made (Nkrumah-made) lake in the world which travels in the middle of the country.
The vibrant industries that sprang up after independence have all collapsed while we import everything ranging from maize, rice and toilet roll to toothpick. Our railway system is no longer functioning, and there’s no single sector of our national life that is still vibrant.
We depend on foreigners to construct our roads, gutters, private and state buildings. We rely on foreigners to manage our state owned-organisations even when they prove not better than us. Our experience with AVRL in our water sector and how the Malaysians and others collapsed Ghana Telecom does not seem to teach us any lessons. Today, no Ghanaian is qualified enough to coach our national team even though those who won laurels with the national team in the past were all Ghanaians. Can we be proud if this?
The only sector that we seem to have too many qualified Ghanaians to handle is our politics. What hurts me most is that there are competent Ghanaians making it great in the private sector both in Ghana and abroad. But the custodians of our democracy and state power will appoint based only on political party-colouration and not competence.
This is sad, Serwaa. Very sad. But that is the stark reality this survival-of-the-fittest geographical entity called Ghana. I always have one advice for any young Ghanaian who wants to make an impact in life:
Identify your talent. Develop it with much effort from yourself. And work as if the success or otherwise of Mother Ghana rests solely on your shoulders. Look beyond the obstacles and forget that any help can ever come from the state. If everyone is bad, be good. If everyone is despaired, keep hopes alive. Call yourself the messiah of Ghana, and pursue that agenda with pure heart, selflessness, righteousness, determination and self-motivation.
The likes of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., were all mortals like you and me. Today, they are immortals because of their selfless service to humanity. Gandhi teaches us that “the only way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of humanity.”
We need only a few of such individuals to change this nation. And we cannot get there when we despair and sit on the fence.
Serwaa, Martin Luther King Jr, once said, “Our lives begin to end on the day we keep silent over things that matter.” I will continue to engage in such discourse. But civil ones of course! I owe it a duty to help shape public opinion.
Don’t be afraid you may be dating a politician. I seriously have no appetite for politics. At least for now. But this is our nation and we’re all involved in building our Mother land. Remember our youth anthem?
Serwaa, I love you and will keep you and your concerns in mind in everything I do. I appreciate your pieces of advice. They make me better. I must say you’ve unconsciously assumed the role of my mother. I’m very grateful and will always love you for that.
Let me stress once again, that you have no competitor when it comes to my love. The door to my heart has only one door and key. And that is the key you have, Serwaa.
Thanks for being there for me.
Writer’s email: email@example.com
Send your news stories to and features to . Chat with us via WhatsApp on +233 55 2699 625.