There are three institutions that help to shape citizens’ character in every country: Education, culture and religion. In Ghana, all these three institutions have woefully failed. Indeed, they rather help to deform the character of the citizenry. And here is why:
If we carefully consider the matter, exactly what moral and ethical codes are we learning in our schools? In the elementary schools, teachers are busy fixing the scores of their favorites and defiling their teenage charges. They are busy abusing these pupils and inflicting corporal punishment on them, or even extorting money from them. Teachers are sending students to the farms to work as slaves and collecting the moneys accruing from their labor.
From whence then are the examples in character and honesty, or the models in integrity?
When these children go to the boarding house at the high school, they are subjected to brutal hazing by the seniors who take from them the moneys and provisions which were given to them by their parents. Junior students pay huge bribes to these seniors so that they could be offered the needed protection, all under the very noses of the teachers who even become part of the grand exploitation of these children.
At the universities, students are engaged in prurient activities, singing songs that insult the female genitalia, or perpetrating acts of vandalism and hooliganism, or holding hostage the educational curriculum in regular strikes, using their own educational opportunities as a bargaining chip with the school authorities or the government. The record also reflects that professors, lecturers, and teachers are actively engaged in sexual activities with their own wards for exams and monetary favors.
Nowhere, throughout the educational period is any emphases placed on the teaching of morality and ethics. Thus in Ghana, the educational system appears to have nothing to do with these character building tools in any real and tangible fashion. It is even possible to say that the school system is the place for the learning of corruption.
And if we think that the school system ought to cede training in character, morality and ethics to the religious establishment, then I will counter by stating plainly that our religious establishment is at the cornerstone of our moral corruption. Those religious leaders have concocted deep-seated lies to take money from their congregation. The lies consist mainly in the fact that a person can sin as much as he or she likes, go to the church or mosques and pay money and be cleansed. And that some personage somewhere will appear in the skies to solve all our problems for us. Therefore we need not struggle too hard to change what is wrong in the society.
By this panoply of plain lies, the religious establishment pays short shrift to whatever residual intelligence is acquired through the school system, encourage corruption through the promise of limitless forgiveness, receives tithes and offering without paying taxes or questioning the source of the money, and invests hope in the congregation that they have no duty or responsibility to build the nation, simply because somebody is bringing a brand new kingdom from the skies in which there shall be no work, no suffering and no tears…….
That is how the religious system has proscribed morality and promoted corruption. They encourage their devotees to reap where they have not sown!
But if the educational system and the religious establishment promote corruption, our culture and tradition, founded on superstition, illiterate bunkum and plain lies, also put the final nail on our penchant for corruption. The traditional leadership is rooted in the moribund fakery that our rivers, mountains and trees are inhabited by the deities and ancestors who must constantly be propitiated by sacrifices of food, meat and drinks. We therefore organize festivals and durbars during which we engage in all sorts of fakery and make-believe activities, deceiving the masses that we are being directed by the spirits to perform certain acts to prevent drought and make the rains, to prevent diseases by giving cows, goats and chicken to the deities.
We have a nomenclature for the purging of witchcraft, for calling forth juju money, for requesting of the gods to enable us to succeed in defrauding others, or for praising them by flaunting the breasts of our teenage daughters, or making of ourselves some similar spectacle for the satiation of our tumescent libidos. Even at the apogee of our personal education and civilization, when we have been exposed to science, technology and reason and logic, we return to our towns and villages as illiterate goons and fight over stools and skins which will enable us to preside over all these cultural bunkum which we know, from our education and civilization, are simply fake and false.
Thus if you ask the question as to why we are so corrupt, the answer lies in the nature of our education, our religion and our culture, all of which are not rooted in the building of any strong character in the individual but rather promote a propensity and predilection for extreme hypocrisy, play-acting and corruption. The Ghanaian grows up with no clue about how to fight or resist corruption which flows freely in his or her vein; the Ghanaian is not moored on any mores or ethos from his childhood to adulthood.
In short, the short answer to the fight against corruption lies in our educational reformation, religious reorientation, and cultural evolution. The end all and be all of these three institutions ought to be rooted on the teaching and practice of morality and ethics. Period!
Samuel Adjei Sarfo, J.D., is a general legal practitioner in Austin, Texas, USA. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org