– 54 reasons to mourn
Story By: Doreen Hammond
THIS March 6 will see another annual ritual of celebration; a celebration to mark the greatest day in the life of a dear nation.
Activities have been lined up and some have already started-Remembrance Day to commemorate the February 28 crossroad shooting incident dent and a clean-up exercise last Saturday.
This Saturday, March 5, school children from selected schools will have a debate and then there will be the march past, as usual, by our school children in the scorching sun to climax activities for the celebrations. 0f course, as usual, the children will bi grinning; oblivious of the difficult path we have created for them. They will enjoy refreshments as usual which they very well deserve.
But if we were to sit down as people to do a self reflection of our situation, will there be an iota of justification for celebrations, apart from the fact that it has become a ritual? It truth, do we have reasons to celebrate or to mourn?
Ours, I guess, can be licensed t the parable of the talents in the good old book and we fit exactly into the mould of the man who wasted the treasure he was given.
The only difference is that we keep going for more, and dissipating it with wanton alacrity, with a bowl in hand as beggars, an unenviable image w have carved for ourselves, not ever realising that we are more endowed than the ones we persistently borrow from
Take the case of our railway industry. On the eve of our independence Ghana could boast of a railway link from Accra and Takoradi to Kumasi and to most of the mining centres Even if it was impossible for us as people to expand it, how about just maintaining it?
Talk about education. Fifty four years after independence, we still have schools under trees and we can no more take pride in the colonial education bequeathed to us, which produced the likes of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumahs, Kofi Annans, the Atta Mills and scores of others who have made Ghana proud around the globe.
What we boast of now is an educational system which is churning out half-baked scholars. We can’t even decide how many years our children should have at the senior high school level and this culminated in our first year SHS students reporting at school with no dormitories for them.
Some structures on the school compound had to be hurriedly converted into sleeping places for these poor children as they cramped together like sardines. The health implications of the lack of ventilation is obvious. As of now, facilities for the students, some as crucial as toilets, are still being built for students in residence. Our children have become pawns in the political game we are playing.
Today in Ghana, we hear of schools which take pride in being the best remedial schools! Since when did remedial take a centre stage in our educational set up? And the rate at which private universities are mushrooming all over the country gives cause for concern. You bet we might not even know the number of such universities operating in the country because some operate from hotel conference rooms!
The least said about social amenities the better. We cannot even provide potable water for our people. At least the records show that about 50 percent of residents of Accra have no access to potable water. While Adenta residents are complaining that their taps are not flowing, Ashongman residents have closed their minds to getting water from taps because they don’t even have pipelines!
Just imagine the situation in the hinterlands. And we talk about 54 years after independence? Is it any wonder that “obsolete” diseases like cholera are still prevalent in our communities? Is it not unhygienic conditions that bring about cholera? Everyone can just take a table and put it near a stench-emanating choked gutter and presto! She is in big time waakye, kenkey, konkonte or any business!
Talk about electricity and we are not faring any better, not even when we have provided our own electric poles to be hooked on. Our roads remain full of pat holes such that when the poor worker struggles to buy second hand cars to transport him to and from work in a country that cannot boast of a reliable public transport system, the life span of the cars are almost halved as a result of the bad roads.
And so 54 years after independence, even if we cannot boast of underground trains and tram cars, how about a simple, reliable bus system that operates on time so that the poor worker can commute to work in some comfort? Sometimes as late as 9p.m., one sees workers still in queues struggling to make it home after the day’s work.
In spite of efforts to sanitise the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Authority, people can still sit in the comfort of their homes and acquire licenses. This coupled with our bad roads and our indiscipline has made our accident rate one of the highest in the world.
Is our health system operating at the level commensurate with our age! We have settled on a health insurance scheme which exists just in name as paracetamol has become the new drug for almost every ailment. Like the economy of the country, the health insurance scheme wobbles on without any sign of improvement in the immediate future. Why is it that some hospitals refuse to take National Health Insurance Cards?
Fifty four years after independence, we are engulfed neck deep in our own filth and there doesn’t seem to be a solution in sight. Plastic waste, both black and white, greets us everywhere.
Our cities are not planned and people build in watercourses while state institutions, with workers who are paid to forestall these, look on helplessly. When demolition starts to right the wrong so that floods do not carry us away, there is an outcry and then the exercise halts. The end result is the man-made floods that we encounter after every drizzle. And all that we can show for it is a disaster management institution which has specialised in the distribution of plastic cups and blankets!
As a nation, we cannot boast a fleet of 50 functional fire engines! Ninety per cent of high rise buildings in Accra do not even have adequate safety facilities. So in the capital city of Accra, a whole Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be razed down by fire as the ill-equipped national fire service looks on helplessly!
As if the big let down by our political leaders over the years is not enough, we troop to the churches on Sundays to find some solace and what do we get? Some charlatan, greedy and quack pastors who feed on our fickle mindedness. We end up being stripped of even coins. Fingers are inserted into women’s private parts, all in the name of salvation!
And listening to some of their sermons is tickling; they ask their members to still expect manna from above dollars from abroad, milk and honey even when they are not working hard and even when they use working hours to sit in their churches o listen to them. Does the bible no longer teach that we need to help ourselves so that heaven will help us?
Do we then turn to our elected representatives in the august house? I am afraid not, they have forgotten about us and everything is about their own welfare. One of the most lucrative jobs in the land where after a mere four years, the End of Service Benefit (ESB) is fatter than that of a teacher who has spent his entire life ringing up people, including members of the august house.
To top it all, we have a media which will not keep the executive on its toes. It has opted to become a mouthpiece for the executive. The media is so polarised that there is no middle way! You are either here or here and senior media personnel are row government spokespersons. Of course, it has yielded some dividends .s journalists metamorphosed into politicians in the last regime and became better off.
Even if we must insist on celebration I maintain we have cause for one.
But as usual, in spite of all these, the typical Ghanaian will rejoice because “at least we are not like Guinea, and our roads are better than hose in Liberian; at least we are not lighting each other and there is peace.” Why won’t we aim at getting better?
As we hold the non denominational thanksgiving service next Sunday) officially wrap up activities, we could be praising God for bringing s this far but we need to devote me to reflect on what we have done with the rich resources the Almighty as given us, where we went wrong as people and make a collective resolve) get out of our present predicament. For really, if you asked my candid pinion, entwa yie!
Author’s e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Daily Graphic Page: 10 Thursday, March 3, 2011