“If the palm beetle which lies in the drink is not drunk, then you who stand by should not be drunk.” – Akan Proverb
For years we have been digging, searching for whatever it was that we were searching for. Many of us do not really know what it was that we have been searching for. Nevertheless, we have finally hit rock-bottom. “We have crashed,” some would argue. Interestingly, instead of us pausing, re-thinking and re-strategising in order to rise from our fall, we are still digging. We are still taking decisions that are restricted mainly to the economic sphere of our society, instead of simultaneously employing a holistic approach to making positive changes in all spheres of society – namely the economic, socio-political and cultural spheres.
We may think ourselves smart and want to circumvent the progress procedure, but we need to understand that progress is never bestowed. We must create and curate it for ourselves. As the artist would say, we have to engage with it – talking about the difficult parts and the enduring difficult paths; touching other lives, often in ways that are wildly different from ours, but all the while with a luminous longing for the essential truth of dignifying the least among us.
Such is the creative impulse we need in our present situation. It is the fundamental basis of our shared citizenry. We are related to each other, even though the relationship is never simple. The philosopher would say “We are as poor as the poorest among us”. That is why we need to constantly ask “What else could possibly happen to make our situation even worse than we have it?” This is a typically rhetorical question, but it is one we need to answer if we truly desire to rebuild our nation.
Rebuilding our nation into a just and free society will be a complex and long-term process that requires our collective effort and sustained commitment from all Ghanaians, whether you live at home or abroad. We need to come together to carve a vision for ourselves, to curate the Ghanaian dream. And we need to allow it to fill our imaginations and shape our actions. This will serve as the inspirational shuttle on which we can hinge our dreams and aspirations; and as the vision hurtles to the highest heights, it will carry us along.
We need a vision that forms the basis of our sensations and thereby serves a function in our lives. We need a vison that enlivens us to act with our lives and which we want to realise. It must be like a thirst that has to be quenched. That way, we will have no choice but to focus on satisfying the thirst. We will spend almost the whole span of our lives engrossed with activities that lead to realisation of the vision.
And for a great many among us, it will be a ‘no-holds-barred’ arena when it comes to what we must do, should do and will do for attainment of the Ghanaian dream. We willl have to be fearless, but we should rest assured that our fearlessness will not go unnoticed. Our children and their children will see us, they will hear us – and most of all we will be appreciated, as many of us are beginning to appreciate the sacrifices made by some of our forefathers.
Beyond the curation of a vision, we need to – on a daily basis – promote equality and inclusivity wherever we find ourselves. As the adage goes, “practice makes perfect”. We need to start addressing systemic barriers to justice and freedom, such as discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, religion and socio-economic status.
We need to educate ourselves on the wonderfulness of the individual and learn to appreciate the different gifts and skills people have, and how we can energise them to use for our collective good. And then we need to go on and educate others to appreciate and accept diversity, so they can do away with the harmful stereotyping and biases they have of people outside their comfort zones.
For now, at least, we need to encourage self-reflection, to question our own behaviour and attitudes and work toward personal growth. This means all of us will have to help create a culture wherein people feel valued, understood and respected. We need to lead by example; we need to become role-models wherever we are. We need to engage in active listening with open minds and without judgment. That is, we need to create a safe environment where people can share their thoughts, feelings and experiences openly and without fear.
These suggestions are but a few. It’s a start, and so let’s get started…
Kodwo Brumpon is a partner at Brumpon & Kobla Ltd., a forward-thinking Pan African management consultancy and social impact firm driven by data analytics and with a focus on understanding the extraordinary potential and needs of organisations and businesses, to help them cultivate synergy that catapults them into strategic growth and certifies their sustainability.
Comments, suggestions and requests for talks and training should be sent to him at kodwo@brumponand kobla.com