It was quiet, dark, breezy and the streets virtually deserted; much of the capital still asleep. I was in the driving seat. The quiet, handsome, humble Adom TV sales executive whose name bears stark resemblance with mine save the Mustapha, was sitting in the other seat.
When we got to our destination, Terminal 2 of KIA, my heart skipped a beat; something was obviously wrong. This is where persons travelling outside Ghana are dropped off by relatives and taxis. But the place was quiet. No activity, save one saloon car parked at this normally busy parkway.
Before beads of sweat formed on my forehead, forced by a million questions racing through my mind, a gentleman stepped out of the car in front of us and said, “You have to go to Terminal 3, they have moved all the international departures there. Just go round and go back,” he said. Quite helpfully.
I followed the advice and drove round the parking area of the Kotoka International Airport uncertain exactly where I was heading. My anxiety tamed only by the awareness that Mustapha was sitting by. Instinctively, we each took our side of the road reading elaborate signages and directional signs. As is common in this country, one impatient driver sped past us, startling us both by nearly grazing my driving mirror.
The layout, the signs, the road almost left one wondering whether you were not lost. But gradually, we made our way to the drop off zone, overlooking massive glass doors opening into a vast expanse of modern equipment and well-polished floors now serving as Ghana’s international departure terminal.
The long queues I saw when I was seeing off someone were missing largely because Terminal 3 has self-service points and more luggage-checking booths. Within a few minutes, I was done checking in my luggage and moved on to fill-out those complicated immigration forms. “Is that Malik? I looked up and there was the fearless Mary Awelana (My God is good) Addah. The anti-corruption campaigner, now Programme Manager of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), was travelling, too.
After the departure formalities, we took seats in the rather comfortable, beautifully-designed lounge. We caught ourselves staring blankly into this rare piece of edifice which should make any Ghanaian - however cynical, and however intense their loathing for the architect of this terminal –feel proud. “At last we have a terminal of international standards,” I said. “Oh yes, it is very beautiful, I just hope we will maintain it well,” she replied.
In August thereabout, a few seconds video claiming the terminal had flooded dominated discussions especially on social media, the new battleground for senseless, asinine, violent, scandalous, scurrilous, garrulous, political mudslinging. It is safe to say that social media can be the thermometer through which the country’s dangerous political divisions can be gauged.
But the arguments and counter-arguments, angst and celebratory comments following the emergence of the video prove one thing – the degenerate, dysfunctional, divisive politics is worsening and showing no signs of abeyance. Partisan politics appears to have had such a corrosive effect on our national psyche that nothing is certain in this country. Even yesterday.
So you had a group of otherwise well-educated, well-meaning citizens, motivated by political chicanery, celebrating news, however unverified, that the terminal had flooded. For this group of Ghanaians, they would feel better if former President John Dramani Mahama was not credited with a scintilla of something good. That by crediting Mr Mahama, rightly, with this beautiful edifice, it automatically robbed them of a political or campaign message. Therefore, they had to deny the obvious.
The logic is not only poor but also betrays a lack of depth and creativity in the national polity. This logic, regrettably, is fairly popular with our two leading political parties.
If Terminal 3 flooded, so what? Without a doubt, and however motivated one is to diminish or even refute Mr Mahama’s achievements and keep playing up the failings of his presidency, Terminal 3 is so obvious a bright spot to ignore or put a dampener on. My people say when you detest someone, even when they drink water, you accuse them of chewing noisily.
There are those who say there is a dearth of honesty in our national politics. The relentless efforts our politician make to deny even the most obvious truth only serve to entrench such perception and tar all politicians with the same bleak, soiled brush with braid bristles.
Our politicians, particularly, foot soldiers, do not have to caricature each other just because politics is a competitive business. Even more so when they are relying on unverified, unsubstantiated, sometimes palpably false, evidence. Our politicians must learn to give credit where credit is due.
In much the same vein, we must be measured in giving credit. There appears to be too much adulation in the public to such absurd extent that we practically confer messianic qualities on very ordinary, if not mediocre, people trafficking their meretricious political wares in the name of serving the nation.
We are too generous, if not sycophantic, in our praise. Just as we are cynical, even dishonest, in our evaluation of the contribution of those whose parties we wish were declared proscribed organisations. This is equally true in the leading parties. No wonder the country is so poor. Really poor!
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