“There is no virgin in a maternity ward.” – Cameroonian proverb
Are you a patriot or a pirate? Growing up, our society sought to incubate a sense of patriotism in us; so that we would grow up to love our nation. It was more of a ‘civic religion’, wherein the many patriotic songs taught us that Ghana is the only country we have, and it takes all of our energies to create the synergy we need to make our nation great and strong. And so, we sang the national anthem and recited the national pledge every morning – all to make us appreciate that we had the best of everything to make ourselves the best of people.
This abstraction gave meaning to many Ghanaians. They braved the tough times, knowing there were better days ahead. It was an exercise in hope and in faith, until the squabble for power carved ‘the-people-leading-the-leaders’ culture we currently have. This new culture has trapped us in a ‘one-step-forward-two-step-backward’ battle. This political cynicism has brought with it a feeling that the vision our fathers’ had can never be achieved. Perhaps it is not surprising that quite a sizable number of us no longer believe or trust in the words of the political elite.
To add insult to injury, we have stripped our heroes of their valour and cursed them for not leaving us an inheritance of ‘money’. We want nothing to do with their sacrifices and jingoism. We are always concocting one story after another to make them look like opportunists and pirates. All said and done, our faith in our country has dwindled so low we have become very emotional about life. We no longer discuss issues rationally; neither in our homes nor in our schools. Even our love for God has been transmuted into a love for religion instead. Our mistrust of the political elite has swelled to the point where we are either for or against the individual. We have no idea of their ideologies – maybe because they actually have none. And many of us shout slogans which offer very little substance to support their achievement.
Our present state is a far cry from the patriotism that blew in my youthful days. Gone are the days when, with a little hard work, people could expect to live a comfortable, happy life. Now, one has to ‘know people’ and ‘act smart’ in order to open doors. We are breeding nepotism and groups within groupings. We are encouraging unethicality and the rise of the strong. Yet for people who are no longer able to dream, ‘ways-and-means’ is music to their ears. Perhaps it is not strange we have energised it as a crusade and called it the ‘kpakpakpa movement’.
Our hospitality, long a source of pride, has gone the way of the dinosaurs. We have no memories of it, and with that has disappeared our etiquette and kindness. We have hardened our hearts to each other, making us shout at each other while sitting next to ourselves. In its place we are always thinking of the ‘me, myself and I’. We have become like stagnant water, and the foul smell emitting from within us has got us holding our breath. And because we cannot get enough oxygen into our lungs and mind, our creativity has gone out with the wind. Is it surprising that we are always angry and stressed about our nation?
The worst part is we have no time for our children, leaving them in the care of the very people we trample upon. What future are we creating for them? We are losing years off our life expectancy, in the face of modern medical breakthroughs. Our psychosis rates have increased inexplicably, and we are using and abusing drugs at record rates. Truth be told, we have cultivated an entirely new belief system that is resentful of living well – and it has gained currency.
It is not entirely clear where we want to go, or what we want to achieve. But it is sad when we talk about democracy and yet do not want to be stewards of our nation. While democracy sings of rights and responsibilities, our prevailing culture – cultivated to suppress ingenuity and industry – chants of freedoms with no accountabilities. While democracy preaches equality before the law, we are teaching ourselves how to find means to rise-above-the-law.
We all want friends in high places. And so we are encouraging fraternisation that thinks of others as outsiders. We pronounce statements which make diversity look like an alien concept. We want our friends and families to act and think exactly like we do. And we do not just want this for just them, but also for their networks; and not just for the minority but also the majority. We want to do away with the very essence of life. When all we desire is for our people to think alike, we should not be surprised that our productivity levels are quite low.
But in all this, our hearts burn with a longing to live with dignity. Our children’s desire to dream is fuelling in us a desire to rethink our ways in order to control our lives and our future. We are at the crossroads. Do we ‘continue’ as we are, or do we ‘change’ for the good? Our emotions will always be at play, but we necessarily need to work with each other to make the decisions that will make our nation great and strong. This has nothing to do with what some people desire, but it does have everything to do with our values. The ones that structured the foundation of our nation. It has to do with the ‘can-do’ spirit first ignited by our forefathers when they recognised that every human has inalienable rights to rule themselves in the best way possible, and to dignify life.
It is time for a real change, and so I stand with our grandparents when they say “we must reach back to reclaim that which is lost in order to move forward”.
Kodwo Brumpon is a management consultant and a life coach who inspires individuals, groups and corporate bodies to think and feel that which is true, and empower them to positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions. Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]