“But also, as I pointed out, that also entails hard work. That new Africa is ready to fight his own battles and show that after all the black man is capable of managing his own affairs. We are going to demonstrate to the world, to the other nations, that we are prepared to lay our foundation - our own African personality. As I said to the Assembly a few minutes ago, I made a point that we are going to create our own Africa personality and identity. It is the only way we can show the world that we are ready for our own battles.” – Kwame Nkrumah, Independence address.
In a few days Ghana will celebrate republic day on the 1st of July.
The nation attained a republican status exactly fifty-two years ago. We can be sure as day follow night that our officials will roll out the big drums and made our people gyrates senselessly. Well-crafted speeches will be flawlessly delivered by our smooth-tongued officials about how far we have travelled and how much gain we have made.
Never mind that many of our people still go hungry and that the living conditions of many of our people, especially in the rural areas, remain abysmally poor. Never mind that we still cannot provide adequate potable water and electricity for the majority of our people. Never mind that inter-tribal wars are raging across the land.
Never mind all these; you can trust our state officials to attire themselves in the best foreign attires money can buy, mount foreign-made rostrums and use foreign-made audio equipments to shout themselves hoarse about how good we are doing, and how unprecedented our achievements are.
It is difficult not to feel deeply anguished about the sad state of affairs in our dear land and continent.
Wherever one looks, it is as though we are just not a serious people and that the fact that we lag so badly behind other races does not seem to faze us at all.
As I write this, a Chinese woman is in orbit aboard a Chinese-made space-craft docked with a Chinese-made space station.
Modern China history began in 1949 when Chairman Mao led his revolutionaries to seized power. Ghana gained her independence in 1957. So there is just eight years in between the two countries, but the gap in material and physical achievements cannot be bigger.
Economically, China has not only become a global economic powerhouse, but is slated to become numero uno in a few years. China is at the cutting edge of science and technology with the country producing more scientists and engineers than any country in the world. The country also produces more Ph.Ds than any in the world.
We produce absolutely nothing in Ghana – that is despite all our huge mineral deposits. And rather than embrace science and technology we still allow damned religious charlatans to rule our lives with their stupid scams.
Our officials see absolute nothing wrong in beseeching heavenly fathers in purely earthly matters. And they found absolutely nothing wrong or ironic in attiring themselves in expensive dresses to go around with begging bowls.
And rather than bemoan our fates, majority of us will also shout praises at leaders whom we ought to laugh to scorn because of their obvious and palpable short-comings.
I don’t know about you, but I feel immensely sad to see that few days to celebrating what should be an august day for our nation, the only news in town is that of our president going to the United States of America to check on his health.
Few days prior to that, the internet has gone viral with rumour that the president had joined the ancestors.
Once again, the notoriously-lethargic government communication team was found wanting. Nothing was heard from officialdom until the president appeared to tell us that all is well with him, but that he was on his way to the US for medical check.
He even joked about his purported death!
News filtered out later that the routine medical checkup might last as long as ten days.
Like in most things in our dear nation, the rumoured death of the president and the medical checkup soon gained political colourations.
The opposition parties demanded that the president comes clean on the status of his health; whilst the government party says that it is nobody’s business where and when the president decides to do his medical checkup.
This is sad, really!
Listening to all the analysts that pontificate on this issue it is, sad, incredibly sad that no one appears to see the bigger picture.
As usual, we appeared to be consumed with the mundane than see the bigger picture of what the president medical trip abroad portends for the country.
I listened to very crass arguments like mayhap the government does not trust Ghanaian doctors, since they could belong to opposition parties and thereby leak the president’s medical record for partisan purposes.
And these guys vociferated very loudly and expected to be taken very seriously.
We are in this country when ex-President Kufuor successfully underwent a surgery at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. He emerged and was full of praise for his doctors – all of them Ghanaians. We are yet to read his medical records in any of our newspapers.
It is indeed sad that fifty-five years after our founding president, Kwame Nkrumah, boasted to the world that the black man is capable of managing his own affairs, we still did not see anything wrong in ferrying our president to foreign lands for medical checkups. We still appear not to be affronted that whilst small countries like Israel and Cuba have managed to build world-class medical facilities which earn them good money, we still spend our borrowed money to send our leaders abroad for medical checkup!
Whatever our political or ideological persuasions, as human beings we should empathise with any sick person. Our African culture mandated us not to speak ill of the sick or the dead. Hence, the saying by our elders that: “To laugh at infirmity, deformity or calamity is enormity.”
We should strongly empathise with the president and wish him well, but as this column has consistently articulated, those that charge themselves with ruling us ought to show us some basic respect.
It is crass for some government partisans to come out to tell us that they do not trust our own doctors to take care of our president, and that is enough reason to rush him outside.
It is also wrong and insulting when officials come out to tell us that the president’s health is none of our business; it is.
As private citizen Atta Mills, it is no one’s business where the man chooses to get his medical treatment. But as PRESIDENT Atta Mills, it is our business to know where our president is 24/7. It is our business to know the state of our president’s health as he is the only person whose decision can make or mar our collective destiny.
Honestly, I think that lack of basic trust has become our biggest problem now in Ghana and in Africa.
The lack of trust coupled with lack of self-confidence among us has become the bane retarding our development.
Today, we longer believe like Nkrumah did that the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.
This is evident with the poster of a white Jesus our people prefer to adorn their churches and homes with nowadays.
Our governments, over the years, also demonstrated this lack of trust by their constant adjurations to ‘development partners,’ to come to their aid even for the simplest of tasks – that is not when they are appealing to almighty gods.
It is sad that in all the discussions about the president’s medical sojourn abroad, no one has come up with the issue of the security implications of rushing our presidents to foreign lands for medical checkups.
It is a given that most foreign doctors that treat foreign leaders will work closely with their country’s intelligence agencies. So, it is to be assumed that these foreign agencies, not peopled with the most morally upright folks, can use this knowledge to their country’s advantage.
And why shouldn’t they?
What if we have a president that has given them a hard time and they decided that a regime change is desirable?
Ok, that might look like an extreme scenario. How about this: since it is also a given that, unlike us, trade delegations from other lands, rely heavily on briefings from their intelligence agencies.
Armed with full knowledge and complete dossier of our president’s health record, what is stopping these foreign trade delegations from arm-twisting our president with the threat of releasing any potentially-embarrassing medical record to the opposition in order to gain undue advantage? It is election year after all.
I hope that I am not the only one who has wondered what sort of hold foreign powers had on our officials that made them signed agreements that are obviously detrimental to our national well-being - like accepting ten percent for oil.