Written by K. B. Asante

“Ah Nkrumah!” exclaimed the Immigration Officer with a smile when I presented my Ghanaian passport in the early period of independence. Slowly but surely, things changed, Ghanaians were no more welcomed with a smile.

There were instances when persons and luggage were lined up to be sniffed by dogs. The insults were many to those with pride. They have not completely ceased.

I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised the other day when upon presenting my passport, the immigration officer beamed with an infectious smile and said “Ah Ghana, good football”. For how long will this goodwill and welcome last? And how did Ghana lose the respect of others? More importantly, how can we fully recover and maintain our respect and self-confidence?

At independence, in spite of internecine strife, Ghanaians were inspired by a mission and determination to build a great, future. Nkrumah’s leadership in this respect was superb. The people, in spite of differences, supported and generally believed in the capacity and unsurpassed personality of the Ghanaian in particular, and African in general.

Dr. Danquah touched the nerve of the people when much earlier, he connected the Gold Coast with the great Ghana Empire of old which flourished in the Western Sudan.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah turned aspiration into reality when he inspired the people to help build the new Ghana adorned with centres of learning, culture and industry.

Ghanaians were, therefore; full of confidence and the determination to work for their own bright future. But they did not only think about themselves. There was the desire to assist other African nations to gain their independence from colonialism and help enhance the tapestry of human achievement by the contribution of the African.

Such an attitude strengthens self-confidence and inspires the respect of others, especially when the government and the leaders do not constantly implore others to assist them to make ends meet.

There were some periods of respectable leadership and good public response after the end of Nkrumah’s regime. But o0n the whole, general decline set in and this slide has not been arrested. It was not only the leadership which did not rise to the occasions, standards in behaviour and morality deteriorated, especially among many in key positions.

Such lapses not only affect development but the respect accorded to the people by others. Highly placed personalities sometimes told untruths to get visas for friends. Some travelled with friends with friends who had been refused entry, and presented them as wives No action was taken against them. Our image went low.

I remember an African Caribbean cab driver telling me about some eminent Nigerian Ministers, Service Chiefs and businessmen he had driven around London. He showed one whole street of houses one had bought. They paid him well and he had bought two houses, but he had little respect for them.

“Only sub-humans can steal so much and flaunt their wealth while the majority of the people live in so much poverty” he said. This means that generous ex-gratia payments to our Presidents while so much poverty is tolerated earns the country no respect for the exquisite appearance of their leaders, but contempt for the neglect of the people.

We should, therefore, take advantage of the relative stability we have now achieved to improve the life of the people, and exploit the goodwill generated by our footballers to showcase a caring, dynamic, self-confident nation.

Our respect will grow not by the help we obtain from other countries, but by the assistance we give to disaster stricken countries, especially those in Africa.

Much is expected of Ghana because its recent stability, especially in an area of wars and conflict.

But we Ghanaians, should not judge progress by what happens in strife-torn parts of the world. We aim at over-taking the achievement of the Koreans and Indians, and indeed the western world.

In this respect, we should be angered at our in inexcusable shortcomings. We should consider it a disgrace for example, that while Accra airport is busy with flights from Europe and elsewhere daily, the national airline has collapsed and a replacement by local private-government enterprise has gone the way of incompetence and greed.

What is happening in Ghana happens elsewhere. The difference is that, events are invested and those responsible for wrong doing punished. We do not. We should deal with those who fleece the country and’ make Ghana, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other African countries unnecessarily poor. Ghana should show the way. Much is expected of her.

Source: Daily Graphic
Voice from Afar

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