Monday, February 22, 2010

Crocodile Tears for Haiti

It has been almost two months since Haiti was devastated by a huge earthquake that left over two hundred thousand people dead and resulted in the virtual collapse of the machinery of the Haitian state. The presidential palace was among the destroyed buildings.

We have shed our tears and contributed our donations. Haiti is already fading from the radar screen of the news correspondents who rushed to bring us the gory details of mangled lives and collapsed buildings.

Two things struck this writer as odd in the Western media reportage about the Haitian earthquake -- that is apart from "Reverend" Pat Robertson's racist vitriol. First, when the 9/11 catastrophe occurred in the U.S. and about three thousand people were said to have been killed, not once did all the media in the West show a mangled white body. The deaths in 9/11 were treated with all the dignity that most cultures afford the dead. But when it came to Haiti, we were shown all the horrific details with unnecessary flourish. Was it because Haitians are poor or was it because they are black?

The second thing that struck me as odd was the inability of any Western reporter to mention Haiti without the suffix: "poorest country in the Western hemisphere." Of course, we know Haiti is materially poor but what these not-so-clever Western reporters failed signally to tell us is how it happened that Haiti came to its sad state.

What these lazy Western reporters continue to promote is part of the grand racist propaganda that the black man is incapable of governing himself without the benevolence of his white superiors. Of course, we are poor, we are under-developed, but give us four hundred years to export your best and brightest to slavery in our plantations, and just another hundred years to directly colonize you and sunder your lands and let's see how you will fare. That's just by the way.

History attested that Haiti was once the richest country in the Western hemisphere. So rich was the colony that it was called various names, among which were the "Pearl of the Antilles" and "The Sugar Island." Former Santo Domingo was the richest colonial possession and it made France stupendously rich. It was France and the United States of America that reduced Haiti and Haitians to penury.

Haiti (Land of High Mountains) is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere because France and the U.S. made it so. This is a story that needs to be told in greater details than this essay can permit.

readmore.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Descent Of The Vultures

"Faced with the militant peoples of the ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, imperialism simply switches tactics. Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags, and even with certain of its more hated expatriate officials. This means, so it claims, that it is 'giving' independence to its former subjects, to be followed by 'aid' for their development. Under cover of such phrases, however, it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism. It is this sum total of these modern attempts to perpetuate colonialism while at the same time talking about 'freedom', which has come to be known as neo-colonialism." — Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism

"Oil profits generally seem to find their way by some invisible pipeline into private pockets." — Lloyd George

"Oilmen are like cats; you can never tell from the sounds of them whether they are fighting or making love." — Calouste Gulbenkian

Three pieces in Ghana's Daily Graphic issue of December 2, 2009, made very interesting reading and they prompted this essay, which represents my contribution to the ongoing debate on Ghana's new-found oil and gas wells (wealth?).

In the said edition, Ghana's "Biggest selling newspaper since 1950," blared in its front-page headline, "SCRAMBLE FOR GHANA'S OIL."

The story tells how two Western oil multinationals (ExxonMobil and BP) are embroiled in a titanic struggle over Ghana's emerging oil industry. The two titans are struggling to buy Kosmos Energy's one-quarter share of the Jubilee Oilfields, which are valued at more than $4 billion.

The story then goes on to tell how the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is struggling to look after Ghana's interest by wading into the buyout dispute. According to the paper, the director of exploration at GNPC, Mr. Thomas Manu, vowed that:

The GNPC is looking at Ghana's interest first, just like other companies will look at their shareholders' interest. We are committed to ensuring that Ghanaians derived the maximum benefit from the oil find.

...and in so doing the GNPC is mandated to ensure that the country derives the maximum benefit from its hydrocarbon and petroleum resources.

Amen, amen, amen!

readmore.

As Nigeria lurches into the abyss

“If your neighbor is eating poisonous fruit and you fail to warn him; his groans will keep you awake at night.” – African proverb.

Nigeria is a nation on the brink of disaster and this is not the prediction of a doomsayer. Like a star on the throes of death; all the vital signs are simply ominous.

We might scoff at Nigerians when they claim that their country is the ‘Giant of Africa,’ but given the sheer size of the country’s population, it’s not a hollow claim.

Think about it this way: Nigeria’s population of one hundred and forty to one hundred and fifty million people easily dwarfs that of any other nation in Africa (Ethiopia, the second, has ‘only’ 81 million people). The country’s immense population is more than half the total population of the West African sub-region.

What all these means is that a catastrophic melt-down in Nigeria (which seems an increasingly distinct possibility) will pose serious challenges to her neighbors and to the African continent.

The reasons should be obvious: the wars in Sierra Leone (population: 6-7million) and Liberia (population: 4-5 million) caused severe dislocations in West Africa that are yet to be overcome.

Countries like Ghana and Nigeria are still counting the huge cost they invested to bring sanity to the war affected countries, and to cater for war refugees. The issues of the refugees are yet to be satisfactorily settled many years after the guns fell silent.

If these countries with small populations can caused so much damage to West Africa, we can only imagine what would happen if Nigeria should implode as it seems increasingly likely.


Wars cause immense suffering and severe dislocations. It’s not out of place for ten percent of war-torn countries to become refugees and Internally Displace People (IDP). And in the case of Nigeria, we are looking at fifteen million figures. Does ECOWAS and even the African Union has the means to cope with that staggering numbers of potential refugees? Most certainly not.

Given the historic, cultural and linguistic links between them, Ghana will be country of first choice for potential Nigerian refugees. This is what makes the silence of ECOWAS and especially the Ghanaian government lackadaisical attitude to the Nigerian present conundrum truly baffling indeed.

It is true that African leaders agreed after independence to respect the insane borders Europeans drew on their continent, and also to respect the sovereignty of the extant nation-states, but as the African proverb mentioned supra says, we ignore our neighbor’s fool-hardiness at our own peril.

The crises in Nigeria are clearly beyond the capacity of Nigerians to cope with. In years gone by, the military would have stepped in via a coup d’├ętat. But it looks like coup making is out of fashion, and in the present dispensation in Nigeria would be totally ill advised

And this is the reason: Nigeria operates a policy that resembles the Cold War superpower’s policy of Mutually Assured Destruction. As has been mentioned by this writer in many instances, in Nigeria British colonialists bequeathed a country that sits literally on a powder keg.

The Nigerian army was created largely from among Northern Nigerians to do the dirty works of the colonialists, and to this day, it sadly continues to reflect its sad origins. All but one of Nigeria’s six coups had been led by northern officers and all but two of Nigeria’s eight military rulers were of northern extract.

But things seem to be different in the current face-off among the political gladiators. When President Yar’Adua (a northerner) took ill and was rushed to a Saudi Arabia hospital, his handlers hoped that his illness would be short-lived, so power was not handed over to his vice, Jonathan Goodluck (a southerner).

Yar’Adua illness shows no sign of remission and he has been away for close to three months. It means that a nation that is rudderless at the best of times is now totally bereft of leadership.

The failure of Yar’Adua and his handlers to respect the Nigerian constitution and hand power to the vice-president is causing understandable disquiet in the country, especially in the Niger Delta from where Mr. Goodluck hails.

Not surprisingly, the Deltans have vowed to secede from the country should their man be denied the constitutional right of assuming the presidency either through a coup or any political shenanigan. Since they have already given the Nigerian state a dose of the caliber of violence that they are capable of inflicting; theirs is not an empty boast. To emphasize the seriousness of their threat, they recently abrogated the peace treaty they signed with the Federal government and promptly follow up by blowing up a pipeline.

So, today Nigeria perches precariously on the edge of a catastrophic canyon with no one clued on how to bring it back. The political class continues to live in its myopic cocoon, pretending that all is well and jolly and hoping that the problem will just blow itself away. Neither ECOWAS nor the AU is showing any interest. The ‘international community’ is also doing what it does best: waiting for catastrophe to occur before rushing in with its crocodile tears.

And as Nigerians watch helplessly as their world (and their country) collapse around them, they are turning on one another with increasing violent and frequency. Riots are breaking out across the land at the slightest provocation. The latest was in Jos, the beautiful city perched atop a breath-taking plateau. Like in all previous cases, what started as a minor quarrel between two people quickly mushroomed into a religious cum political mayhem that left about five hundred people mindlessly butchered.

The Jos riot was one among several strings of riots that have engulfed this unfortunate land in recent times. A few weeks earlier, Jos near neighbor, Bauchi, was engulfed in another totally senseless mayhem that was blamed on Islamist fundamentalists. The eastern states of Nigeria are virtual no-go areas as kidnappers have declared an unholy war against the citizens, and the Nigerian state is powerless to do anything about it.

As had been chronicled several times by this writer, Nigeria is a seriously sick country. And Nigerians, faced with a colossally corrupt, immensely inept and totally uncaring rentier government are turning on each other with Old Testament fury.

The sick and uncaring elite mis-ruling the country continue to promote religious and ethnic differences in order to keep the people apart, and make them unable to organize and confront the common enemy which is the political class.

So, instead of organizing themselves against their oppressive government, Nigerians continue to senselessly slaughter each other. This ought not to surprise anyone with a working knowledge of psychology.

Albert Memmi, in his book, 'The Colonizer and the Colonizer,’ examined the psychological phenomenon that made colonized subjects turn violently against themselves instead of against the colonizer which is their common enemy.

Faced with a colonizing elite that has armed its repressive military apparatuses with top-of-the-line instruments of violence, Nigerians feel impotent. They lack their wherewithal to boldly confront their oppressive government and a police that operates a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Given the fact that the ethnic and national make up of the country has made the task of building a viable nation-state seemingly impossible, we can imagine that building a sustainable national force to confront the behemoth oppressing them is a daunting for Nigerians task indeed.

So the hated odious elite continue to ride rough-shod over their hapless compatriots. But they will do well to heed JFK’s warning that those that made peaceful revolution impossible make a violent one inevitable.

It happened in Ghana. In the 1970s and early 80s Nigerians were laughing at their cousins from Ghana who came to their country to do menial jobs. Nigerians also could not understand what drove Ghanaians to come to their country in order to buy basic goods like soap, body creams and lotions, shoes, canned fish, etc, etc

Ghana which is today the toast of West Africa was then a broken nation. It was virtually a bankrupt nation with an inutile currency. It was a country where citizens had to queue up in order to buy pitiable quantities of maize – the country’s staple. The once proud nation of Kwame Nkrumah had been run aground by a succession of inept and corrupt military adventurists.

Then came the violent revolution of 1979. Those interested in splitting hair might argued that what happened was not a revolution, but here I am using the ordinary meaning of the word which Wikipedia says: “is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.”

What is not debatable is that the lot of Ghana was bettered by what occurred in 1979. Those that argued that it was bloody have good points, but any honest student of history will tell you that very few change of a political order are bloodless. It makes sense when we know that those that enjoy privileges, especially illegitimate ones, are wont to want to defend their ill-gotten privileges.

Another point that cannot be disputed is that what happened in 1979 left Ghana in better shape. Whatever its critics might say, the revolution of 1979 sanitised the Ghanaian body polity. And those not suffering from amnesia will agree that post-revolution Ghana was better off materially. No longer are Ghanaians queuing up for food like some Albanian (sorry Albanians) peasants.

The revolution also created institutions that Ghanaians today take for granted but which are the envy of their neighbors in the sub-region. Whatever its shortcomings, Ghana’s civil service remains the most disciplined in ECOWAS – I speak with the authority of one who has travelled around West Africa. And Ghana remains the only country in the region where police officers do not brutalized ordinary citizens with impunity.

Institutions like the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRIJA) ensures that the rights of Ghanaians are not abused by operatives of the state. Today, Ghana’s electoral commission has become a hallowed, well-respected institution whose services are in demand across the world - Nigeria has just sought its expertise in reforming its own deformed electoral laws. These things are today taken for granted by Ghanaians, but it was not used to be so.

Thirty something years after Ghanaians sought sojourn in Nigeria, the reverse has become the case. Today, Nigerians are seeking asylum in Ghana.

It is little wonder then that many of them are clamoring for a dose of their own Jerry John Rawlings – the man that led the Ghanaian revolution

Saturday, February 6, 2010

President Mills got it all wrong

“It is barely bearable for me when I hear spiritual leaders say that we in Africa needed divine and spiritual intervention to solve our numerous of socio-economic and developmental problems, but it galls me to no end when I hear our elected representatives pantomiming the same nonsense.

I am neither thrilled nor amused by the spectacle of African leaders holding prayer breakfast and other spiritual jamborees. The sight, in fact, makes me very angry. I found the sight of African leaders kneeling in supplication insulting, as it portrayed us Africans as mindless simpletons incapable of solving any of our problems without external interventions - be it from NGOs, IMF or almighty gods.
What sights daily confront us in Africa except incapable and visionless leaders jumping from one Western capital to another in search of solutions to their country’s problems? And whenever their feet manage to touch local ground, they are busy scurrying around churches and mosques beseeching the almighties to come down to earth to lead them out of the morass their crass ineptitude, personal selfishness and total lack of vision has led their nations.”
Femi Akomolafe,


read it here

According to MyJoyOnline.com (1/30/10), President J.E.A. Mills Friday sought the support of the clergy to make the national prayer day an annual affair.

The president was reported to have said that: “every prosperous nation the world over had a spiritual foundation, stressing that “the spiritual foundation is more important than the superstructure".

This was said to have happened when Mr. President invited members of the Council of Christian Churches to the Castle, Osu, to seek their support to make the national prayer day an annual affair, saying, "I invite you to appraise you and seek your support."

President Mills is a man for whom I have enormous respect and the highest regards. His calm, intellectual disposition endears him to me greatly. It is not often that we see African politicians who are as level-headed as our president. We are indeed lucky to have such gentleman at the helms of our nation’s affairs.

Personal sentiments aside, we owe it to ourselves, to our nation’s health, prosperity and also to posterity to point out to Mr. President when and where we think he’s erring.

It is very correct when President Mills said that prosperous nations built their prosperity on spiritual foundations. That, however, is where we parted.

President Mills forget to tell what type of spiritual foundations nations built their foundation upon. As an honorable man as well as an intellectual, our president should have gone further to tell us that no nation ever built its spiritual foundation on alien religion.

Mr. President should have also noted that religion is essentially ancestor worship. We may throw a lot of gaseous arguments around, but every religion beseeches its god through the intercession of ancestors who have passed on. Why else should we be referring to the ‘God of Abraham,’ ‘God of Isaac,’ etc, etc?

What our president failed signally to point out is that no prosperous nation ever built its spiritual foundation on worshipping alien gods. This exactly is our problem in Africa.

The very ideas of religions are to ask ancestors, who have journeyed to the spiritual world, to intercede on behalf of those who are still struggling with earthly problems. The belief that life is a continuum is at the base of every religious belief. As the celebrated Guinean writer, Camara Laye, pointed out, life would indeed be meaningless if death is the end of it all.

The Chinese are building (rather re-building) their civilizations based on their indigenous belief systems. The Indians dusted themselves up from the bestiality of colonization, and reconnect with their indigenous belief system; today we see the great strides that they are making in rebuilding their lives. Thousands of years of sojourning in foreign lands did not stop the Israelis (Habirus or Hebrews) from abandoning their Jehovah. Today, the five or so million Jews in Israel have rebuilt a civilization that is based solely and entirely on their ancient belief system. The superstructure of the Western civilization was constructed on the Judaeo Christian belief system.

On what are we in Africa trying to rebuild our lives shattered by slavery and colonialism? We are trying to build it on alien ideas and foreign religions.

I say it is time we in Africa start to ask ourselves what crimes our ancestors committed that made us neglect them and started to worship other people’s ancestors and other people’s gods. This is a profound idea that should excite among us serious discussion.

Without aiming to offend my brothers and sisters, I ask, what sense does it make for those of us in Ghana, indeed in Africa, to be praying to ‘Gods of Israel,’ or an Arabian god?

Today we appear to be groping aimlessly for solutions to the myriads of problems that confront us. We appear confused and all the ‘solutions’ we are proffering seem not to be working. The whole of our personal and national life seems totally dis-oriented.

I am glad that president has touched on this subject, but instead of calling for national prayer day like he did, he should have called for more sober reflections. The ritualistic prayers being offered daily at our churches, mosques and the uncountable prayer camps that dotted the length and breadth of our nation are not working and they are never going to work. You can mark my word.

And the reason that all our prayers are not working is very simple: we are praying to the wrong gods. We are praying to alien gods and we expect them to answer us. Every society creates its god in its own image. But this is not the case in Ghana. This is not the case in Africa. It is only in our dear continent that people pray to alien gods and wonder why their prayers are not being answered.

The logic is also very simple and it surprises me that not many people seem to grasp it: Let’s, for argument’s sake, accept that there is a god called Jehovah. He’s the god of Abraham and his descendants – the Jews; the question then arises as to why this Jewish god will bother himself with the supplication of the Ghanaian? What happens when a Jew and a Ghanaian pray to this same god asking for the same favour? To whom is Jehovah going to listen? The answer should be obvious except for those of us in Africa that likes to delude ourselves.

Actually the problem is more profound than that. Why is the very obvious link between religion and culture escaping us? And why is it that we fail to see the connection between culture and development?

President Mills should have gone further to make the connection between culture and religion – connections that ought to be obvious to any thinking person. Our president should have told us the home truth that no society has developed without using its indigenous knowledge system based on its culture.

Let’s take language as an example. Many Africans in Europe find it difficult to understand the tenacity of European nations to maintain their languages at all cost. From the biggest to the smallest European nation, legislations are being passed making it mandatory for immigrants to learn the language. As I try to explain to Africans I met in Europe, it makes eminent sense to protect one’s language.

It is only in Africa that we take our language for granted. We tend to see languages as mere means of communication. This is not so. Were that to be the sole purpose of language, we could have well do away with it altogether, since there are several non-verbal means of communication.

Apart from serving as means of communication, language, any language, serves the very useful purpose of transmitting culture and knowledge system. That is why it is so difficult to understand why African leaders do not see the ridiculous irony of addressing their people in a foreign language! That aside from their always attiring themselves in other people’s fashion designs.

We are at sad cross-road we find ourselves in Africa because we are losing our indigenous knowledge system. We are not transmitting these systems to the following generation because our educational system takes no cognizant of our local knowledge. Just take the example of grandmother who very easily can help a woman in difficult labour, or grandfather who, with few herbs, can set broken bones. We have not set the system up where this knowledge can be disseminated. This is what separates us from the other races.

What we need to do is begin by creating our own god in our own image. I know that many Christians and Moslems will scoff (even laugh) at this idea. But I say that we might devote the whole calendar year to prayer, but verily, verily I say, until we learn to use our own language to communicate with our own god created in our own image, nothing will come out of our supplications.

The ridiculous position, Ghana, nay Africa, finds itself is where leaders address their people in a foreign language; where people have been taught to laugh and scoff at their own culture. Let us look at a definition of culture to see the folly of our ways.

“Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.” http://www.tamu.edu/classes/cosc/choudhury/culture.html

Interested reader might go to link and read up more on culture.

What we have in Africa are artificial construct that our rulers are too fearful to tamper with. We have structures that only few of our people understood, and yet we do not know why these artificial constructs are failing us.

We continue to spend fortunes on an educational system that takes no cognizant of our culture and our environment, and we do not appreciate why we are the world’s under-achievers. We go to our expensive schools and come out thoroughly brainwashed into thinking that every Ghanaian, African or indigenous idea is primitive (with a capital P). Our universities are only succeeding in totally alienating us from our society.

Let’s sit down and ponder about all these. How many of us so-called educated people can read and understand a letter from his lawyer? How many of us understand when our accountant talks to us? How many of us can truly understand when our politician talks to us?
If we, who have benefitted from the same education system as these professionals, have problem understanding them, how much less for our educationally less-endowed brethren and sithren? Do we now begin to understand why these systems are failing us?

We can continue to patch them up as much as we like, but so long as we fail to take the majority of our people along with us, so long shall we continue to fail.

Does our current judicial system make s any sense to anyone apart from the lawyers and the judges? In our indigenous judicial system, aggrieved parties are brought together and given all the opportunities and assistance for RECONCILIATION. Today, both parties will rent expensive lawyers who will go and speak hard-to-understand English before a bewigged judge who will pronounce judgement that will PUNISH one party without any effort being made for reconciliation.

I have stated times without numbers that our gods have really done their best for us. It is only our folly that is keeping us in our present backward state.

Another case: We yearly spend huge chunk of our hard-earned money to import western drugs whose side effects are as debilitating as the illness they are supposed to cure. Yet, our forest brims with potent medicinal herbs. Our herbalists are out there in the forests unappreciated, because our so-called education has taught us not to appreciate our own.

A good case is the piles (kooko) from which many of our folks suffer. European and Asian pharmaceutical companies are making big money sending us ineffectual medicines. But pile is a disease many Ghanaian and African herbalists can very easily cure with three to four mixtures of leaves and barks. And the saddest thing is that these leaves and trees grow easily in our forest.

The benefits we will derive from embracing our cultures are simply so vast that it is baffling that most of us are failing to appreciate them. Just sit down and think about how many of our people we can put to gainful employment if we should go local in our dresses and uniforms. Instead of our parliamentarians wearing our national dress once in a week, let’s make wearing national dresses a pre-requisite for any national office.

One of our leading politicians who, unfortunately had join the ancestors, suggested what he termed ‘domestication.’ He was laughed off by people with colonial mentality who merely remove their slave chain from their neck and wrapped it around their minds.

We need to sit down and seriously think about what we are missing and what we are losing by our total abandonment of our culture, and the total embracement of alien culture.

We do not have problem that our fore-fathers did not face. I say it is time that we start to give them their dues. If they we fail to appreciate and revere them, we cannot blame them if they refuse to intercede with the gods in our behalf.

It is one thing for Europeans and other foreigners to come and malign our culture; it is another thing entirely for us to join them in lampooning what our ancestors bequeathed to us.

As the saying goes, it is one thing for someone to insult and laugh at your mother; it is another matter entirely when you allowed yourself to be taught to laugh at her.

Nkosi kelele Afrika!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We didn't vote for god

It is barely bearable for me when I hear religious leaders say that we in Africa need divine and spiritual interventions to solve our myriads of socio-economic and developmental challenges, but it galls me to no end when I hear our elected representatives pantomiming the same nonsense.

I am neither thrilled nor amused by the spectacle of African leaders holding prayer breakfast and other useless spiritual jamborees. The sight, in fact, makes me very angry. I found the sight of African leaders kneeling in supplication insulting, as it portrayed us Africans as mindless simpletons incapable of solving any of our problems without external interventions - be it from NGOs, IMF or some desert gods. If we are praying to the gods of our ancestors, that would be fine, but the spectacle of our elected leaders praying to the gods of the Jews and the Arabs is nauseating, to say the least.

Religion, any religion, is essentially the worship of ancestors. Are we Africans so screwed up in our heads that we do not recognize the irony in our supplicating to other people’s ancestors, whilst neglecting ours?

Are we so ashamed of our forbears that we would rather pay homage to the ancestors of other people than to those that gave birth to us? What crimes did our ancestors committed that made us hate them so much that we would rather prayed to Abraham, Isaac, Jesus, Allah etc, etc?

Any educated person today knows that Africa was the birthplace of MAN and we Africans are the parents of all human beings. How then do we explain the madness whereby we are borrowing the gods of the Semites (Semites are half-black and half-white)?

What sights daily confront us in Africa except incapable and visionless leaders jumping from one Western capital to another in search of solutions to their country’s problems? And whenever their feet manage to touch local terra firma, they are busy scurrying around churches and mosques beseeching the almighties to come down to earth to lead them out of the morass their crass ineptitude, personal selfishness and total lack of vision has led their nations.

How could our politicians (or are they really politricians?) so easily forget that few weeks ago they were campaigning and making promises to us?

We voted for people who told us that they have the answers to our economic and social woes, thus fulfilling our part of what I considered to be a contract. For an elected official to turn around and tell us that only the gods can save us is dishonest to say the least. He has broken his part of the bargain! And why is that African leaders needed divine intervention when they have to provide amenities and services for the ordinary people. No one sees them praying or supplicating before awarding themselves fantastic salaries and other emoluments!

It look like a serious scam to me when an elected politician turned around to tell me that he requires divine support in order to do what he claimed he could easily do when he was canvassing for my vote. The sight of African presidents on bended knees supplicating to a god to come and solve their nations’ problems is repulsive to me.

Do we need the involvement of any almighty god to grow the food that we eat? Do we need the angelic intercessions of any goblin of the sky to solve our erratic water and electricity supply problems? Do we need to bend knees and pray before we can provide adequate telecommunication services? Do we need any god to tell us to desilt our choked gutters and clean our dirty streets?

It is time that we in Africa recognize that no society has ever been developed by any god. If by development we meant qualitative improvements in the lives of people, we can say that Jehovah certainly did not develop Palestine when he purportedly led some Jews in that land. In no way did Jehovah improve the material well-being of those he purportedly led out of Egypt. He only made them wander aimlessly in the desert for forty years. The Egyptians practiced agriculture while Jehovah busies himself with feeding people with manna. And when his chosen clamored for some meat and stuffs, he killed many of them. Jehovah built neither school nor hospital. His so-called prophets kept the people in ignorance and busied themselves with killing little children.

The truth is that it is human beings, using their native intelligence, who mastered their environment and transform their societies for the better. This is the simple, unvarnished truth. And history recorded that this transformation could be achieved within a generation as per Israel and Malaysia and Singapore and....

Let anyone come forward and cite for me an example of a nation that has attained economic development through divine intervention. This is a challenge. Is it by any co-incidence that the only country in the so-called holy land that has attained a high level of economic development is secular Israel? When Jehovah was purportedly leading them in useless nomadic trek across the Palestinian and Arabia deserts, the Jews were starving. And they did not stop starving until they took to science and technology. It was not their knowledge of the Torah but their embracing modern sciences that enable the Jews to turn their desert into blossoming oasis and become net exporter of food!

Our leaders will do well to tell us the simple truth that we are deluding ourselves if we believe that some gods are coming down from the sky to solve our problems for us. What have we gained, as a people or as a nation, from all the endless spirituals pyrotechnics that are daily deluging us? What have we benefited, tangibly, from all the charade being perpetrated by shameless charlatans pretending to stand between us and alujanah? A

nd those shameless priests, so-called men of god should bury their collective heads in shame. They have no relevance in any modern society. They are simply blood-sucking parasite preying on the ignorance of the people. The cassocked charlatans who claimed to have authority of a Know-it-all father in heaven should tell us why they do not build hospitals if they are truly capable of healing. Why hide in churches and make a show of performing miracles when you can earn good kudos if you build a hospital?

I have lived in societies where human beings are decently feeding, clothing and housing themselves without appealing for divine intervention! I have lived in lands where human beings live in comfort with absolutely no spiritual intercession whatever. And, if anything, history tells us that it is only those lands that banished ignorance and set the gods strictly aside that have improved their physical environment and material well-being. Correct me if I am wrong, please!

Methinks that it is time we give the gods a break. By endowing us with immeasurable mineral resources the gods have certainly done their best for us. As a great African writer once put it, “The gods are not to blame.” We have no one but ourselves to blame if we continue to wallow in poverty because we refused to employ our intellects to solve purely temporal problems as others have done and continue to do.

The poser and challenge for us is why is it that our continent is the world’s richest in terms of mineral resources, and yet we remain the world’s underachievers and basket case? We die in millions when there is drought and we perish in millions when there is flood! Our electricity suppliers continue to blame too much water or too little of it in our dam, for their inability to provide us with steady power supply. And this is after over half a century of self governance!

Instead of properly educating ourselves to face the challenges of a globalized world we rather would spend inordinate amount of time in churches, mosques, prayer camps and what have you. And we pretend not to know why we live poorer than pets in some countries! Instead of de-silting our gutters, we would rather go and dance ourselves senseless at HOLY GHOST RETREATS; and we pretend not to know why we are dying of easily curable diseases. We would rather dance or beg than work. We would rather party than read. We would rather celebrate than think. Mental, intellectual and physical lethargy is our main problem and this is the truth that our leaders should be bold enough to tell us. In almost everything we do, we always seek the easiest way out. Take a look around and see the number of NGOs our compatriots have shamelessly set up to solicit Western, Asian and Arabian money under one pretense or another!

We have absolutely no self respect whatever as we are ever prepared to self-flagellate ourselves for whatever crumbs the Arab, the Asian or the European are willing to dole out to us. And we pretend not to understand why others continue to treat us with contempt even in our land!

While the rest of humanity is making giant strides creating the things to make life more comfortable, our lives continue to be ruled by ignorance and superstitions. We still belief the fiction that bad lucks are caused by witches and wizards and could be banished by olive oil. In this age and time, spiritual leaders still have the audacity to tell us the ignoble lie that a god created a devil to torment our lives, and that that devil could be expelled by bathing in sea water! We must certainly be the last species of humanity that still belief that barrenness could be cured by reciting some psalms and the tying of a talisman around a waist!

What is particularly galling is that our rulers continue to live far and above the poverty line they set for the rest of us. Or are our dear presidents going to bed on empty stomachs? Are they and their families lacking the facilities to cater for their health? Or when was the last time our dear leaders slept in darkness or failed to make an emergency telephone call? If our dear leaders are enjoying all these comforts without divine intervention, they have no business pulling wool over eyes by asking us to beg a god in order to enjoy what is considered basic in most of other countries.

Instead of telling us stupid lies about gods intervening in the affairs of men, our elected leaders should tell us why:

i. A HIPCed country like ours continues to pay fantastic salaries and emoluments to Ministers and special assistants. (To give an example, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, one of the world’s richest nations, live in his own house and drive his own car and so do all his Ministers)?

ii. An impoverished country like Ghana needed such expensive presidential cavalcade. (Again to give the example of the Netherlands, only the queen of that country travel with a motorcade and police escort)?

iii. A country like Ghana makes it her business to give car loans to parliamentarians. (In the Netherlands, a car loan for an MP is strictly the business of the MP and his car dealer and bank manager, period)?

iv. Our elite continue to import and consume beverages whose price tags look like telephone numbers. (To cite the Netherlands as an example once again, excessive consumption attracts excessive taxation, which is not the case in our dear land)?

v. Why a nation whose national airlines lack a single plane bought two presidential jet?

I have said it and I repeat it here that we in Africa will start to make headway in life only when we can compel our rulers to live on the same level they set for the rest of us. The recent spectacle of Ghanaian politicians awarding themselves fantastic salaries and emoluments is nauseating to me. Do these glaringly overfed and obviously over-compensated men and women have absolutely no shame at all?

PS: Would someone kindly tell me what, amidst our overwhelming squalor and general impoverishment is there to be grateful and thankful to any god about!

Wise saying:

" Never use both feet to test the depth of the sea." - African proverb