As Africans, we love to feel good about ourselves and our achievements or anything that has a semblance of it. And what better way to feel good, than indulge ourselves a bit and celebrate! And so we celebrate anything that suggests success no matter how remotely.
When there is a peaceful change of government, we celebrate. When questionable characters take over the reins of government through a coup, we celebrate. We love it. And we do it with remarkable zeal.
So South Africa splurged a whopping $3.5 billion dollars hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup at a time many black South Africans still lived in shacks without the basic necessities of life.
Both rich and poor felt good though it fizzled out quite quickly. Many black South Africans still have an economically difficult South Africa to deal with while the structures remain profoundly underutilised or inaccessible to the greater majority.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro in La Côte D’Ivoire cost between $ 175 and $ 600 million dollars to construct in the 1980’s, a time the country was in considerable economic difficulty.
The President at the time wanted to construct “the greatest church in the world” even if it had little use. He did it and it doubled the country’s debt while a majority of the people continued to languish in the indignity of poverty occasioned by the poverty of leadership.
But of course, even the poor joined wholeheartedly in the celebrations when the Basilica was consecrated in 1990 by Pope John Paul II. But I must admit that this is a religious matter and my understanding is very much limited.
Back home, President Mahama commissioned an uncompleted ‘airport’ in Ho. The irony is that residents of the region had earlier protested over the bad nature of their roads. They had more than enough: an aerodrome. Something much more worthy of a celebration! An NDC communicator would later admit it was to appease them. Quite painfully, we love to be in a celebratory mood no matter how worthless the venture.
When African Presidents gather for AU meetings, they typically vaunt the potential of Africa to be a world Power; they postulate recommendations for her take off. It makes them feel good; they celebrate her potential greatness and disperse to optimistic headlines. Yet Africa has been marking time for over five decades.
But Africa’s love for the feel good situation is best exemplified in her states’ celebration of their independence from European Powers (and in a few situations, from other African countries such as is the case for Namibia, Eritrea, and South Sudan).
The celebrations are always elaborate: pomp and pageantry; song and dance; wining and dining; speech and laughter. Earlier celebrations were informed by the hope that Africa was on the verge of economic independence and that we were on the cusp of greater things. Some celebrated based on their cargo cult mentality; the good things have yet to arrive.
So Ghana has been celebrating her independence from the awe-inspiring British for 59 years. But it is a badly hidden secret that Ghana is not independent in the true sense of the word; She is ‘dependently’ independent. She takes dictates from the West. And since 1885, her cocoa price is determined by very external forces.
And she has added nearly no value to it. She has not applied much effort to be truly independent. It appears the British just realised all of asudden that they could avoid the disrespectful mosquitoes and vicious harmattan in Ghana while still being in control of things an ocean away. So they returned.
So while I think we should replace this year’s Independence Day with a “National Day of Solemn Reflection on How to Be Truly Independent”, and then beg some generous people to give us money to foot the feeding grants of SHS students up north, the President has set up a 30-member committee to organise according to someone, “a modest but memorable 60th anniversary.” And he is the President and his mind is made up.