Monday, January 4, 2016

Beautiful Ghana: Why Ghanaians must learn to love their country of birth
By Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath
Loving our country of birth
A beautiful African proverb says: “You don’t appreciate the value of your own buttock until you have a boil over there!”
Philosophically, if I am asked to describe Ghanaians in one sentence I will say something to this effect: “We Ghanaians are human beings who appreciate the past, demean the present and glorify the future.”  I will attempt to use Participant observation research method to explain my hypothesis.
Why does it seem Ghanaians don’t appreciate incumbent rulers’ efforts?
Anthropologically, I should be able to write appreciably about Ghanaian religio-cultural behaviour from birth to death. But for the purpose of this article I intend to focus more on socio-political attitudinal patterns of post-independent Ghanaian politicians. My conclusion is based purely on my own observations so my margin of error may be too high or too low, though!
Politically, I have observed that since 1957 most Ghanaian citizens, especially politicians, who do not belong to a particular ruling Party hardly appreciate the efforts of any Governments in power. For example, when the Convention People’s Party (CPP) was in power in the 50s & 60s, most politicians who did not belong to that Party least valued that Government’s achievements. The same attitude applied to the Progress Party (PP) Government in the early 70s.
As for our brothers and sisters in uniform regimes, the least said of their efforts the better. Thus, we hear stories of opposition commanders mobilising hard cash to embark on journeys to the West intentionally to block fund raising efforts meant for development projects in Ghana? Why should we do that if we refer to ourselves as one people, one nation with common destiny?
That state of affairs still goes on as tradition. When the NDC 1 was in power from 1993-2000, few NPP engineers hardly saw anything magnificent about that Party. Likewise, when the NPP was in office from 2001-2008, NDC architects least admired any achievements chalked by that Government, too.  Why are we like that as Ghanaians?  Or is it a mere “you do me, I do you” gymnastics?
Then I have also observed that while sadistically racking our brains to demean or even denigrate the achievements of incumbent Governments as the case may be, we have the zeal to hail and glorify the promises of a prospective Party likely to form our next Government. And at the same time as we are busy belittling the incumbent’s efforts and singing the praises of prospective regimes, based purely on conjectures, we gleefully dive deep into our memory lanes to extol and proclaim the triumphs of past Governments or individual former heads of state who we demonised while they were in power. Why do we behave like that as a people?
James Ebo Whyte’s wisdom (EboWhytism)
On Thursday, December 31, 2015, I listened in to Mr. James Ebo Whyte, affectionately called (Uncle Ebo), the Ace Ghanaian playwright on Joy FM Super Morning Show at 8:00a.m. He delivered his last inspirational message of the year. On that day Hon. James Agyenim Boateng of the Office of the Vice President was the host of the programme. Uncle Ebo illustrated his message with some anecdotal narration, which prompted me to write this article.
Uncle Ebo prefaced his story with a question to this effect:  “If someone who has lived outside Ghana for the past two decades asked you about the situation in Ghana, what would you tell the person?”  Then he related that in 1984, he attended a conference in Nairobi, Kenya. There he met a certain Ghanaian who was then living in Liberia for about ten years or so.  He intimated that at that time the Ghanaian in question was a successful businessman and was prosperous in Liberia.
According to Uncle Ebo, when the said Ghanaian saw him in Kenya, and having recognised him as someone from Ghana, the man walked up to him and asked: “My friend, I can see that you are from Ghana. By the way is Ghana a country where human beings can live at all?”, probed the man.
 Uncle Ebo stated that when the man asked him that question, he looked into his face and retorted: “My friend, do you realise that you have just insulted me? You know I am from Ghana and you are asking me whether human beings can live in Ghana?”
The guru storyteller concluded his tale that a few years after the encounter with that egocentric diasporan Ghanaian, civil war erupted in Liberia. There were bomb explosions here and there and the man’s house was shattered. As a result all his properties were gone just like that. In fact, he would have lost his own life if he had been in the house at the time of the explosion. But then the self-righteous man had to rush to board a vessel rescuing Liberian refugees to Ghana. The pompous businessman arrived in Ghana with the only dress on him at the time the explosion occurred in Liberia.
Respected reader, I deliberately paraphrased and reproduced Uncle Ebo’s story in this write-up for two reasons:
 First, Uncle Ebo Whyte is not an ordinary playwright. I occasionally have been following the dramatisation of his plays in theaters and his inspirational messages on radio and television. I can characterise him as an enlightened soul. He is a man whose head is impregnated with wisdom. He can be styled as an African philosopher. The combination of his wisdom and philosophy is what I termed as EBOWHYTISM.
Africa abounds with men and women of wisdom and philosophy like Uncle Ebo but nobody knows about them. If not yet, I suggest that philosophy/sociology/psychology departments of various African Universities should conduct research to identify and document African philosophers for posterity. How did we get to know of Greek philosophers? Uncle Ebo is one of such great philosophers from Ghana. For all we know, he may even be an anointed genuine Prophet sent by God to Ghana for a mission.
Yet, as the Bible says, “…The Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness more than light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19. If Uncle Ebo were to be born in a country like Singapore, all institutions of high learning over there, would have been fighting over him to be Chair of their Universities. But here in Ghana and Africa, who cares about a wise guru of no “fake letters”? This is why I doff my hat to the Ghana Military Academy for involving Uncle Ebo Whyte in the Academy’s programmes; especially during its cadet officers graduation ceremony of October 2015.        
I further suggest that the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service should adopt all plays by Uncle Ebo as literature books for second cycle institutions. I also suggest that Ghanaian Universities, including the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), interested in human ingenuity and creativity should take a bold initiative by including Uncle Ebo’s works as part of the curricula for their philosophy/sociology/psychology students. Professor Kwasi Yankah of Central University, and Dr. Wilberforce Dzisah of GIJ – “Are you there Please, do something before you die ooo!” 
Furthermore, Ghana is not an ordinary country to toy with at all. Politicians, who are offering themselves to serve mother Ghana should scrutinise their own consciences first. Despite its current socio-economic challenges, including dumsor, Ghana is not a country of doom! Ghana is destined to be a touch-bearer-nation of other nations. Ghanaians should never be discouraged in life. After all most great nations that we admire today went through some kind of trials and tribulations of their own. Think of the American civil war of the United States; the World Wars I and II of Germany; and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki of Japan, besides tsunamis etc.
 Loving our country of birth
As we just enter the New Year 2016, and an election year at that, Ghanaians should reflect and ask themselves whether they would love to live in Ghana in peace or prefer to be born in other countries like e.g. Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria. It is not by accident that we are citizens of Ghana. Politicians should relax and take three deep breaths. For, the time has come for us all Ghanaians to learn to love the country of our birth no matter the circumstances. Afehyiapa! Efeyeye nami looo!!!

The author works with Information Services Department (ISD), Accra