Have you ever seen a hedgehog? It’s not an animal indigenous to these parts of the world. They occur more in the colder regions of the world, like Europe. They do bear some similarities to the porcupine, but they have shorter bristles on their bodies -. Shorter, but equally pointy and painful to touch – a bit like a little scrubbing brush with a face and four legs.

A wildlife journalist once wrote about his observation of a group of hedgehogs on a cold winter night. As the weather got colder, they drew closer together to take advantage of each other’s body warmth, but the bristles and tines on their back started digging into each other, causing discomfort. So they spread out again. The weather got colder still, and slowly, the weaker ones started to die.

As the death toll went up, some of the survivors started drawing closer to each other again. Others who were unwilling to bear the discomfort of rubbing up against each other’s bristles stayed apart from the group. They died swiftly.

All those who flocked together and bore the discomfort of the prickly huddle survived the bitter winter night.

This article left in my mind a very powerful image of animal survival, and it didn’t take long for me to realise how relevant that was to the human condition too.

My friends, as a nation, we too are fighting for survival; Economic, social, political, spiritual, educational, medical survival. Ghana has problems that affect us all. When the cedi falls, when there are no hospital beds, when there’s corruption, when the lights go off, when the coronavirus spreads like wildfire, we all feel it. Just like the hedgehogs felt the weather, we are all feeling the bitterness of a blistering cold, nationwide winter’s night.

But then, we all know that when a group of people come together with a common cause, much more is achieved. Ghanaians all have one cause. No matter which party we belong to, or football team we support, no matter which tribe we’re from, the one thing we all want is a better nation. There may be bickering, there may be disagreements and in-fighting. There may be blatant opposition and rigorous rows, but behind all of that, humanity is in the pursuit of one common goal. So here’s the question: if we refuse to tolerate each other with all our flaws and shortcomings, how long do we think we can survive on our own?

I admit it’s not easy. Human beings are difficult to live and work with sometimes. They can rub you up the wrong way and cause major discomfort. But the truth is, you can’t make it on your own through this world. Everybody needs somebody. In the end, it’s better to stand together and bear the discomfort of the little pricks that make people disagreeable, than to stand alone and be overwhelmed by the forces that work against us all.

My name is Kojo Yankson, and whoever you are, I’d rather fight our problems alongside you than on my own.