Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back to................

So I'm back in my little corner of New England, and maaan, I miss Accra with some serious passion. I had so many things to say/write in Accra, buy thanks to spotty internet access none of this came out. Now my natural apathy is setting in, and I'm not sure how much I care anymore :)

Anyways, so here are some of my thoughts from Accra:

1. I hate the phrase "we're appealing to government.........."

See, Ghana is a country of beggers. From the so called government that is being appealed to, to the random people standing in the street, obstructing traffic and begging. Churches beg, schools beg, individuals beg, the whole country is constantly begging.

Case in point-

Accra was all excited before Obama came. Why, well because he's a great guy, he's part African (of course we claim that very happily) etc etc etc, but also because they were expecting a boon. Clinton brought aid, Bush brought even more aid, of course Obama was going to bring half of America's fortune to pay homage to "the first sub-saharan country he visited on official duty". The man came and said, well Africa (we read, well Ghana), you have to do something for yourself. The west cannot continue to give blind aid, what you do, we'll help you do. And what you dont do, well thats up to you.

Now, I can tell you that Ghanaians were fairly disappointed. They couldn't come out and say that to his face, clearly not, but it was there. So, the same media that went on and on about how "you dont go to a country empty handed" and "what is bro. Obama bringing us" etc etc now quickly turned the tune to "he says we should do things for ourselves, and by golly we must!!" It was entertaining how quicky their "mouths changed". The conversations that ensued from the whole visited died down very quicky,see, because there was no begging to be done. As a society there isn't a whole lot we can say about what we're doing for ourselves, so there isnt much so say about how Obama and his land of milk and honey can help us. I thought this would have been a good teaching moment, but alas, I'm not a politician or a teacher or community leader. Apart from my poor family who heard my views ad-nauseum, no one else was taught.

Another case in point-

Some parts of Accra are flood prone. This is no new knowledge. Every year in June/July, it rains, places flood, people loose property and a few unfortunate souls die. The people affected cry and wail and appeal to government to come to their aid. A few big men from the government walk around affected areas, give a few speeches about how this is a big shame, people shouldn't build in water-ways, the government will come and save everyone yadiyadiya.......Almost exactly a year later, the same story plays itself out.

Now I ask myself......why is it that as a nation, we're so unwilling to do anything for ourselves, even when we know that there's a good chance that we're going to lose some property and God-forbid, some lives? How about if the people who live in flood prone areas actually invest a little of their time, money and effort into protecting their communities, thus themselves? Take the time to clear the refuse that THEY dump into the gutters in front of THEIR houses; or better yet- simply do not dump refuse into said gutters; Contribute a little money to fix the gutters and roads that cause problems; As a community prevent people from building in places that are obviously wrong OR better yet, DO NOT BUILD in unauthorized/unwise locations...............

Yet another case in point-

Church services have become avenues for begging. At least they have in my church. There is always something being launched, sold, bought, asked for. Very very very rarely will a church group come before the entire congregation and say that they, in celebration of some anniversary or other, will provide a service to the church or community for free. Week in, week out, there are always requests for yet more money. I do know and understand that a church needs money to run, and often needs substantial amounts. I also understand that groups need funds in order to run and must fund-raise. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem however, when this fund-raising is the only thing that we hear about. Its always give, give, give- that gets annoying.

2. We seem to be a very passive nation

It seems as though everyone has a little store in front of their house or something, and are prefectly happy to make money from that. I have nothing against the little store. But it seems to me that its a slight upgrade from subsistence farming. I know that there are many factors that determine how someone makes their living- education, capital etc etc, and these often work against a vast majority of our population. That said, I wish we had more risk takers, bolder businessmen, more unique opportunities. Not the kind of risk takers who have no qualms doing illegal things to get ahead etc, but just something a little extra. We cry about how poor we are as a nation, but our growth is partly limited by our own inability/unwillingness to be bold and innovative. As long as we stay within the confines of subsistence farming, subsistence selling, subsistence hair dressing etc our progress will be slow.

What's the solution? I'm not entirely sure. I imagine the situation is very complex and there are many factors beyond the control of the ordinary person. But at the same time, we also bear some responsibility for the lack of initiative and all that.

'Nuff said.


  1. I think I'll just add an amen to what you've just said. And lwkmmid on the bit about Obama.

  2. oh and the church thing too. and another lwkm.

  3. :) @ Bubu.
    Have to love Ghana even as it frustrates you. Oh well.

  4. Very belated comment, Aseye, but we're waiting for you to return to the beloved country and help transform it :)