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Little Things for a Better Ghana

Wed, 14 Jul 2010 Source: Gyan-Apenteng, Kwasi

It must have been a moment of supreme inspiration when the NDC chose “A Better Ghana” as its aspirational slogan for both the general election campaign and its period in office. When you think about it, “better” is always better, if you get my meaning. It is even better than “best” for the simple reason that human beings not being perfect, there is room always for improvement. Of course, it has the added advantage of still being “only” better, and striving for the best, implying an absence of complacency.

However, the main reason why it is such a clever political slogan is that we all want things, ourselves and situations to get better. This is something that every one of the 6,697,254,041 people on earth can and wants to identify with. It is both easy and hard to prove, when proof is needed that something has got better over a period of time. Come 2012, this will be one of the greatest sources of fun for those looking for comedy in the coming electoral battle between the NPP and NDC. We can already see the outlines of the fight: the NDC will claim that things have got better, which will be bitterly disputed by the NPP.

Both sides, as is the custom and practice, will employ an array of spin doctors and “serial callers” to do their bidding. Sophisticated arguments about GDP, per capita and other indices will be brought into play, but mostly invectives and diatribes will be traded across the airwaves. Maybe personal testimonies, in the mould of televangelical magic and miracles will be produced. Imagine the scene: NPP parades 20 very skinny people who will claim to have been fat, or at least full-bodied, until they became victim of “Bitter Ghana”. NDC will respond with an equal number of corpulent citizens who will claim to have been emaciated under the NPP but have since received a boost in body mass, thanks to President Mills’ “Better Ghana”.

As for me, I will judge by the little things that make life tolerable or not in this country. My mind went to these thoughts last Saturday when I was returning from Akuapem in a rather foul mood. It was the day after Uruguay caused me to throw away a pot of prime palm wine that would have been part of the merrymaking the previous night if the accursed Mr. Suarez had put his hands beside him where God meant them to be.

The thing that got my goat was a discussion I had with some friends just before I descended the fabled hills of Akuapem. The discussion had been about Asamoah Gyan and the ball that flew too high. Undeserved blame flew in the general direction of Asamoah Gyan, Stephen Appiah, Coach Milo, the FA, and any name in the crossfire. The coach had not “taught” the players how to take penalties; Asamoah Gyan had rushed to take the penalty; Stephen Appiah should have snatched the ball from him. This blame game was even more ludicrous than the Jabulani ball, which I think was the culprit (more on that some other time).

It was as I came down the mountain, that it struck me that we were all hankering after excellence from a group of eleven young men while the rest of us performed or even expected others to perform in a mediocre manner. Let me give you the example that boiled my blood. The Akuapem road is one of the best in the country, and has added to the quality of life of the people who use it to a considerable degree. (If we were a people that did not suffer from planning-phobia, this could be the basis for a real tourism take-off in the area. But, we are Ghanaians – we don’t plan).

For very good technical and social reasons, street lights were installed along most of the road. Three years ago, every one of those lights worked and night travel on that road was as safe as day. One year later, I noticed that about a quarter of the lights did not work. Last year, only a few of the lights worked. Now, not one of them is anything but a decorative piece. To worsen matters, many are them broken, fallen or looking somewhere in anger and frustration! Somebody on government payroll has neglected to do this very simple thing of making sure that the lights work, and accidents do not occur and people are healthy and happy as a result. In short, people would have a better life if something “small” like that is made to work.

Take the “spraying” of sign boards all over the country, especially in the cities and major towns. Every one with the aspiration to become a barber starts with a signboard of fanciful haircuts that nobody this side of social decorum would put on their heads, but it takes all sorts... The first thing our enterprising barber does, even before acquiring a pair of scissors, is to put up a sign advertising his services. The same goes for the hairdresser, the carpenter, the financial advisor, and above all the man of God and all those who have goods and services to sell. The trouble is most of these signs are placed without any authority or supervision and constitute a hazard in many ways, apart from being an eyesore in the public space. I am sure that somebody, who is also blaming Asamoah Gyan, is paid to ensure that this hazard is eliminated. Small things like will deliver a better Ghana.

We are all victims of the serious traffic that snares Accra on a daily basis but a lot of it is down to irresponsible behaviour that could be checked if the police would do what the police everywhere do as routine. Let me report from the Spintex Road, where the normally abnormal traffic is aggravated by the behaviour of people who believe that they are entitled to whizz by, only to create even worse traffic at the inevitable bottleneck further up the road. This action, which adds several minutes and serious tension to the daily morning torture, undermines our mental wellbeing, never mind a better Ghana.

This column will like to hear from readers the little things that they think could help deliver a better Ghana for them. The email address is below.

SUAREZ AS A NEW ENGLISH WORD

I received this through my inbox; sender unknown:

SUAREZ

(Vb) a. To viciously and proactively inhibit or halt the Progress of a person an establishment or a nation. Eg The team's opportunity to score was SUAREZed by a member of the opposing team.

b. To act in a way that is deliberate and intentional, though spontaneous, yet calculated to frustrate the advancement of an adversary. Eg As pressure built in the dying moments of the game, a shot at goal was SUAREZed by an opponent standing next to the goal post.

(Noun) a. A state of being where all your efforts are visibly and overtly being frustrated and impeded. Eg. I am in a state of SUAREZ please don't stress me further.

b. A purposeful behaviour intended to disregard rules of engagement so as to prevent an opponent from eminent victory. Eg. The first thought that came to Fernando's mind was to cause a SUAREZ in order to save the day.

(Adverb) Describing a frustrated state of mind where a force is directed, deliberate and intentional Eg The Uruguayan SUAREZedly Prevented the ball from Entering the post thanks to Luis.

Origin - Root word is from the extinct Inca language meaning "an erratic young man with the tendency to frustrate the effort of all those who deal with him whether in peacetime or wartime."

gapenteng@hotmail.com

Columnist: Gyan-Apenteng, Kwasi