Live From the Woods: December 7 can’t be politics as usual; either speak up or keep quiet

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If I am to distil the state of Ghanaian youth in one word, it would be “threatened.” Ghanaian youth are on the precipice of “extinction.” Their very existence is threatened in their country of birth.

They are not angry but hungry. They are not robbing anyone, but that they are rather being robbed by the leadership of this country. Screaming unemployment, sleazy, hypocritical politicians and a country that’s fast becoming a credential state have proven the real enemies of the youth.

I live in the woods and I love the things it affords me. Because of its provisions, I have turned down invitations from friends in the urban areas to jettison it for what they call the ‘urban life.’

Good food, state-of-the-art equipment, fashionable cars and good jobs punctuate their definition of an urban life but the reality is that none of these is true in a lateral and not literal sense.1a

The woods isn’t special but it’s spacious for me and my kind

A friend who has had enough of my rejections put it aptly when he said: “You better consider coming to town. At least you have immeasurable opportunities in the city. You have unbridled access to good paying jobs, advanced healthcare and access to wealth for a good life.”

I declined to a stay in the city because of my principles in the same fashion President John Mahama has maintained he would not restore the teacher and nursing trainee allowance due to his principles. It’s a good thing because the last thing we should be seen doing is going against the very values we believe in.

It isn’t that life in the woods is glossy, but that those friends who are pressurizing me to move to the city are not living a comfortable life either.

The worrying situation is that their shoes are worn-out and in a delicate condition than mine, a consequence of poor roads and economic hardship.

They are pathetic shadows of the fate that awaits citizens of a country whose political system is poisoned by greed, hatred, lies, and mismanagement of state resources.

Elders of my Akyem Asene hometown in the Eastern Region say if you walk with nine wretched men, know that you will soon be the tenth. Choose your company wisely or choose foolishly.1b

If you’re a man and none of your shoes has gone down this lane raise your hands. Yes both hands

At least after all the talks of positive change and transformational change tossed out of the mouths of politicians, no significant change has taken root in Ghana.

My friends have for years fed into the ‘change is coming’ mantra of politicians, yet there has not been any quantum improvement in their standard of living.

What I know is that most of them are still unemployed five years after we completed University of Ghana. They are still hopeful that someday a sensitive and selfless government would emerge to put Ghana on the right road as has been demonstrated in other parts of the world.

But as it stands now the change they’d hoped for has rather taken place in the pockets of politicians and their allies.

I am not advocating for a return to the days of Kwame Nkrumah where government created several corporations. Government must desist from doing business as usual except for strategic ones. It should rather create a congenial environment for businesses to thrive.

Although your vote in the 2012 general election may not have brought the changes you envisaged [be mindful others had the change they wanted], notwithstanding it saved you from being described an ‘idiot.’ Yes, people who don’t participate or care about public affairs or politics are labeled idiots.1c

They continue to say the best democracy was practiced in Athens and I say we had the best deal as Africans but we rejected it.

I was introduced to this term during my first Political Science lecture in the University of Ghana. The lecturer Asa-Asante walked us through what has largely been described as the first and true democracy in the world, Greece’s Athens.

Idiots in Athenian democracy were people characterized by self-centeredness and concerned with private as opposed to public affairs. Declining to take part in public life such as voting was seen as dishonorable; hence such people were referred to as idiots because they misjudge national issues.

He bluntly told us to get involve in student/national politics else risked being described as idiots. You might end up being label that if you conclude you would not take part in this year’s election.

That was the first time the word was used loosely in reference to people who have concluded they would not be a party to politics because of attitudes of some politicians; or they are not voting because as Ghanaians often say ‘politicians are the same and they are robbing us of our resources.’

Do the resources belong to you alone and/or your relatives? Sometimes we make statements as though Ghana belongs to us and the politicians are not part of it.

Well, enough of the digression.


I shouldn’t have digressed but I love it

This year’s election should not be seen as the usual election. It’s either a win for NDC which gives the party 12 years in office or a win for the NPP which helps to solidify our position as a nation intolerable of mediocre performance. Either way would be a history in the making.

Majority of Ghanaians have expressed their disappointment with the performance of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) as I am sure they did with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2008 election.

Ardent supporters of the current regime disagree the NDC has performed badly. They say Mahama has outperformed his mentor and one of the founders of modern Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah on infrastructural projects.

For eight years the NDC government has done what it could do with the resources of Ghana, they often rationalize.

The question would be that: Could NDC government have done more with the huge resources at its command? The answer will be a resounding YES. Why didn’t Mahama do that? Well, as far as I know the answer is that the President is busy sweating the small stuff while his ministers are equally busy amassing wealth for themselves.

Be your own judge and prosecute the NDC to determine whether John Mahama deserves another four years. And if you conclude that he deserves another shot at governance know that by 2021 the NDC party would have been in government for 12 years, a situation that’s a breeding ground for corruption and mismanagement.

The ghastly truth is that your position on the performance of Mahama is predicated on your definition of what an excellent performance is. You can’t be faulted for your decision.1e

Greek philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope with his ‘miserable’ lamp

Let us all behave like the Greek philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope who gained notoriety for his stunts such as carrying a lamp in daylight in search of an honest man. He died without finding his type of man.

If we’re to carry similar lamp in search of honest, selfless, and trustworthy politicians among our political class, I am sure we would end up disappointed like Diogenes was.

However, we must acknowledge that some persons in politics are trying hard to meet the integrity mark, but the question remains to what degree?

As citizens of a young but formidable democracy in Africa, we should not be seen positively rewarding lazy and callous politicians for performances that do not meet the excellent mark.

While I believe both the NDC and the NPP have done some things to improve the fortunes of Ghanaians, I don’t think maintaining a party in office for a long time is the solution to our problems neither is kicking a party out every time would stem the rising tide of unemployment, economic morass and deteriorating educational structures.

The politician must not be too complacent as to abuse office and s/he must not be too antagonized as to give up hope.

We would have to strike the balance and that means we don’t have to shield people who don’t mean well for our people and future generation.

If the politician wants to increase the rate of suicide in Ghana I will not want to be factored in the statistics because I will not kill myself over their failed promises and neither should you.

They chant transformational change and change is coming only to end up in office constructing the road of change from their offices to their hometowns.

If you would not want to be part of this election please renounce your Ghanaian citizenship and become a Greek just on December 7. At least you would not be thinking like a Ghanaian. You would be filled with patriotism and respond to the clarion call that the nation’s founders responded to.

The new citizenship will afford you the opportunity to ensure that your vote counts in the upcoming election.

It is not the usual election. It’s either a 12 years reward to the NDC for their performance or a win for the NPP to remind politicians that Ghanaians cannot be toyed with.

No matter what, you must become a Greek. You must vote in the coming election.

Do not say others would vote when you are not taking part. This year’s election is a referendum on the performance of the NDC and we have to do a good job. We can’t fail the next generation and you especially you can’t continue to remain unemployed.

It is either our decision at the December polls helps to improve the lot of Ghanaian youth or marks the beginning of challenges for the youth.

Let us be minded time is of the essence. It can’t be politics as usual.