The Social “Mediafication” Of The Ghanaian

The advent of social media has made a lot of people technologically savvy. Ghanaians have not been left out of the world of social media.  In fact, social media has spurned a sort of revolution that has churned out creative people from all walks of life. People have nurtured and improved on ideas that have been developed into several applications just to make communication easier. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Flickr, Instagram and a host of others have now made communicating by all forms very easy, be it via text, voice, pictures and video. But it seems some Ghanaians have been social “mediaficated” to the extent that sometimes their use of the various social media tools defeats the purposes for which they were created. These are just my observations and also based on snippets of conversations heard from several people. I was not eavesdropping though.

Once, whiles traveling in a commercial vehicle, we got to a police checkpoint and the policemen instead of doing their normal checks, were busily either on whatsapp or on Facebook checking their statuses. They just allowed the vehicle to pass by without even raising their heads since they were so much engrossed in what they were doing on their mobile phones. What if someone was carrying weapons or illegal drugs in the vehicle, how will they know? Other people also complain of health professionals, especially some of the nurses who rather choose to pay attention to their mobile phones than sick patients who urgently need their attention and care. Several instances can be cited in our hospitals where patients have lost their lives due to this unethical behaviour. What happened to their work ethics? Some of these health professionals even go to the extent of sharing pictures of accident victims on social media. I just don’t get it. Why will they do that?

The several government agencies, ministries and departments cannot be left out of this craze. Just enter any of the offices when you need their services, you will surely find some workers facebooking or on whatsapp. They will not even raise their heads to look at your face but will be asking questions. Such people are just wasting the tax payers’ money. They are not even willing to put their mobile phones down and attend to you. Have you also noticed the behavior of some people when they lose their mobile phones to pickpockets and thieves? They just can’t deal with it. This social “mediafication” craze has permeated every facet of the Ghanaian society and the earlier we change this attitude the better. Also some people share all kinds of information on social media without verifying them, thus sharing false information. This can sometimes cause fear and panic in the society. We should learn how to use social media, when to use it and what to do with it. It will shock you to know that when someone is in distress and needs help urgently crowds of people will gather around and use their mobile phones to take pictures of him/her instead of helping such a victim.

Passport Office Wahala

There comes certain times in a country when certain corrupt acts and practices must be stopped with all the seriousness that they deserve. Sometimes I wonder why we still cannot get it right when it comes to the acquisition of passports in Ghana. Just visit any of the Passport Offices in the designated locations such as Accra, Ho, Sekondi-Takoradi, Kumasi and Tamale and tell me your observation. I have been to the Passport Offices in Accra, Takoradi and Ho and my observations so far will come from the Accra office and Ho office.

Is it not a basic right for every Ghanaian to acquire a Ghanaian passport? I happen to be in need of a passport, so I bought a passport form at a bank in Takoradi and filled it with the necessary information attached with the necessary documents. Since I went back to Accra, I deemed it necessary to submit it at the Passport Office. But my hopes were dashed when I got there at exactly 8am only to be told by the security man that I should have been there before 5am to be given a number for the submission of my forms. I asked myself, who reports for work at 5am in Ghana? He told me that they attended to only those who were given the numbers by 5am on a daily basis. Surprisingly, he asked me to give him GhC1000 he could help fast track the process. I declined that offer and walked away with my hopes dashed. I also observed some people standing at the entrance and calling applicants just to illegally help them acquire their passports. I heard these were the Goro Boys and they had their connections inside the Passport Office. With this experience, I resolved never to go back to the Passport Office in Accra. A friend advised me to submit my forms at the Passport Office in Ho. Guess what happened when I got to Ho?

The situation in Ho was nothing different as when I got there, I had to ask the officials at the Passport Office what I was supposed to do concerning the processes I was to go through. I submitted my forms and was told to sit down and wait. That seemed like eternity for me. Little did I know that some applicants were condoning corrupt acts there by putting money in their forms when submitting their forms. Those applicants were called within the shortest time though they came to meet some of us at the place. I waited for more than 3 hours before I was called and finally went through the process with some of the Immigration officers openly asking for money from me and some of the applicants. This was also going on at the biometric registration section of the Passport Office. I was left dumbstruck by the stinking corruption going on there. There was a notice pasted there that warned applicants from dealing with any of the immigration officers but I observed some of the applicants were going contrary to this directive.

Questions for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

How can we develop as a nation if Ghanaians have to go through a whole lot of frustrations before acquiring a passport? What happened to the much touted online passport application process? Is it really working? Are the staff not paid their monthly salaries? Is the Director of Passports aware of the corrupt acts going on there? Is the Minister of Foreign Affairs aware of these blatant acts of corruption going on at the various Passport Offices throughout the country? Is it also true that there is only one printer for the printing of passports and it is in Accra? Why are there no biometric machines or devices in all the regional capitals but only in Accra, Ho, Tamale, Takoradi and Kumasi? Why are there still Goro Boys at the Passport Offices? Why should we grease peoples palms before we acquire passports after buying the passport forms? This nonsense must stop as soon as possible because some of us are fed up to the neck about the stinking corruption going on at the Passport Offices. #GhanaMustWorkAgain #StopCorruptionAtThePassportOffice #MinistryOfForeignAffairs #GhanaiansDeservesBetter

Cry Mother Ghana, Our Beloved Country

It was a sad day for Ghana on Tuesday, 31st January, 2017 when reports came in that a school building has collapsed at Breman Gyambra killing six kindergatten children. The school is the Breman Gyambra Methodist KG School. This community is in the Asikuma Odoben-Brakwa District of the Central Region. According to reports, four of the children died on the spot and the other two died later at the Breman Asikumah Our Lady of Grace Government Hospital. Several children were also injured in this tragedy. According to eyewitnesses, there were visible cracks on the building before it collapsed. I just don’t understand why these children should die as a result of someone not doing his job. What were the authorities doing to fix this dilapidated structure. I heard the P.T.A. had levied the children so as to use the money to fix the building, but this tragedy could have been avoided if pragmatic steps had been taken the moment the cracks were seen on the building.
That same day in the evening, a terrible rainstorm ripped off the roof of Ghana’s Parliament causing the roof to leak. Instantly, the next day it became a major news item with several people in higher authority including the Vice President visited Parliament to assess the damage caused to the building. It was promptly being fixed that very day. But no politician visited the Breman Gyambra community to console the bereaved families. What sort of country do we live in? In the run up to the 2016 general elections, politicians from all the parties were going to every nook and cranny soliciting for the votes of the people. They could be found at every funeral, every naming ceremony, in fact they made sure that they were present at every social function so that the false impression of they caring about the welfare of the people will be seen. But now that the election season is over, our politicians forget to care for the same people who voted for them. Who cry’s for these six children who have lost their lives through no fault of theirs? The media also decided to give little attention to this tragedy and as usual nothing will be heard about it again. Also some armchair journalists will just sit in Accra and make up stories about the tragedy. Now they are all focusing their attention on Parliament and what happened during the rainstorm. Such a biased media landscape we have in this country. Or is it because this tragedy did not happen in Accra so no attention is being given to it? If it were to be a western country, the school authorities would be forced to resign due to their negligence and irresponsible nature. Its time we put an end to that attitude where we identify problems but wait for them to get out of hand before we try to fix them. It seems we have failed the children of Ghana, we should bow our heads in shame for the death of these innocent children. We could have gotten future Medical Doctors, Teachers, Lawyers, Lecturers, Scientists, Fashion Designers, Engineers etc etc out of these children.
Once again, Mother Ghana is grieving the loss of her six children and sadness has gripped the people of Breman Gyambra. My heartfelt condolences goes out to all the affected families. May God grant these children a resting place in His bosom. I can just imagine what these families are going through right now. Imagine taking your child to school only to be informed in the afternoon that your child is dead. God save Mother Ghana, God save and protect all children.

The Ghana I Yearn For

Ghana is a country blessed with so many natural resources and human resources, and in fact we know how to bring out innovative ideas no matter the problem at hand. As a citizen of this great country, I yearn for so many things from Ghana. I know some will tag this post as being too controversial or being utopian, but all I want is the best for Ghana.

I yearn for a Ghana where you will not go to the Passport Office at 3am and wait till 5am just to submit your completed Passport application forms. A Ghana where you can acquire your passport without the hassle and frustration that we are going through now and also without the so called Goro Boys showing up at the Passport Office every day to extort money from prospective applicants under the pretext of fast tracking the application process . A Ghana where you will not be told to come back in 3 months time after you have applied for a Birth Certificate. A Ghana devoid of ethnocentricsm and tribalism at all levels of the society including the academia. A Ghana where your tribe, creed or political affiliation should not prevent you from securing a job but employment should be based on meritocracy and not nepotism and the usual family and friends and political party affiliation that we see going on.

I also yearn for a Ghana where hospital administrators will not connive with their staff to inflate health insurance claims just to dupe the state. A Ghana where essential drugs given to the hospitals will not be found on the shelves of private pharmacies. A Ghana where Christians, Muslims and Traditionalists will be each others keeper and not involve themselves in corrupt activities at their various workplaces but claim to be worshipping God on their specific days of worship. A Ghana where utility service providers such as the Electricity Company of Ghana and the Ghana Water Company will be prompt to resolve problems associated with their services when we inform them.

I yearn for a Ghana where we will not litter our environment. A Ghana where we can also recycle most or all of our waste materials and add value to our recycled waste. A Ghana where we can grow and eat our own food and also add value to our raw materials. A Ghana where the educational system will be very practical instead of the theoretical and rote learning that is going on. A Ghana where politicians will not become arrogant the moment they win political power but eschew humility and listen to the people and attend to the pressing needs of the people. A Ghana where voting will be issue based and not about personalities. This the Ghana I yearn for, if I have left out something, you can add it. God bless Ghana, our Motherland.

The Forgiving Heart

It was a very cold evening when Adwoa Manu broke the news to Michael Owusu, her boyfriend. Adwoa was pregnant and she was scared of what her parents will do to her. She decided to break the news to Michael and find out how he was going to react. Whether he was going to be happy or sad. But Michael went into a panic mode the moment the news hit him. His mind was then flooded with ideas on how to get rid of the pregnancy and also he started entertaining thoughts of running away from Adwoa. The look on his face alone scared Adwoa to marrow and she could not look at him in the face at that very moment.
Michael decided to go on the offensive by denying Adwoa’s pregnancy. He began to accuse her of cheating on him with some of the boys in the community, but Adwoa amidst tears streaming down her face denied that allegation. She reminded him of his insistence not to use a condom as protection anytime they had sex. Yet, Michael continued to deny the pregnancy. Adwoa had no other man in her life apart from Michael and she gave her all to him in the relationship. She now felt humiliated and betrayed by the man who always claimed he loved her. She decided to break the news to her parents and she was ready to accept any form of punishment that would be given to her. She made Michael aware of decision. Her parents also knew that she was in a relationship with Michael and they always advised them to be truthful and good to each other.

That evening Adwoa could not sleep, her parents had gone to church and she was just waiting for them to come back home so that she told them about her pregnancy. Adwoa met her parents at the gate with tears in her eyes and they were surprised to see their daughter crying. They were also shocked when she finally spilled the beans to them that evening. They could not come to terms with it for about thirty minutes. Adwoa’s father then decided to inform Michael’s parents about this new development. A call was made to Michael’s father and he could not talk for some seconds after hearing the news. While this was going on Michael was planning to leave town. He came home late in the night, sneaked into his room and packed some few clothes and left the house. His parents were asleep when he came home. He did not want to face his parents over Adwoa’s pregnancy. He also changed his sim card so as to prevent calls from coming through on his phone. Only God knew where he was going. He the left town for an unknown destination.

Both Adwoa and Michael’s parents were alarmed at Michaels’s abscence when they met to discuss the issue. They tried calling his phone several times but all their attempts proved futile as he could not be reached. Both parents acknowledged the fact that both children were responsible for the pregnancy, and that they were going to make sure Adwoa was taken good care of during the prenatal and postnatal period. Nine months passed and still there was no sign of Michael. Adwoa safely gave birth to a baby boy who looked exactly like his father, Michael. The parents of both Adwoa and Michael decided to name the child Michael Kwadwo Owusu, after his father. Prayers were said for mother and child and they all thanked God for his safe delivery and the good health of the mother.

After two years, both Adwoa and Michael’s parents lost their lives in a terrible motor accident whiles returning from a funeral in the Central Region. This was another sad day for Adwoa. Despite this unfortunate event, Adwoa with the help of her brother who was in the US was able to take good care of his son. Kwadwo was able to make it to the Medical School and eventually graduated with distinction. He was the best in his graduating class. His mom and two of his uncles were at the graduation ceremony to celebrate the day with him. As usual, his mom was full of praise to God for seeing his son through the Medical School. She admonished her son to be good to all manner of people who came to him for treatment. Kwadwo was later posted to another town for him to start his career as a Medical Doctor.
Kwadwo always carried a smile and never hesitated to greet anyone he met on his way to his consulting room. Thus within a short period of his arrival at the hospital he seemed to be liked by everyone both the medical and the non medical staff. He had a listening ear and had time for his patients too especially the sick children. He even decided to spend his weekends with these children telling them stories and sharing the Word of God with them. His mom heard about all these and continued to pray for him. All this while, it had never occurred to Kwadwo to ask his mom who his father was and his whereabouts.

One Saturday evening Kwadwo was just finishing his dinner and he had a call from the hospital. This was an emergency case. Someone had been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and he was the only doctor closer to the hospital so they had to fall on him. Kwadwo got there only to realize that the person who was hanging between life and death had the same name as him. The nurses on duty too were surprised about the resemblance. Kwadwo did his best and was able to stabilize the condition of the patient. He went into his office and called his mom on phone to inform her of the new development. She rushed to the hospital and confirmed to Kwadwo that the man lying there was his father who abandoned them when he was in her womb. He went back to the ward to attend to the man. He went with his mom. The man was then conscious and was talking to one of the nurses. The moment he saw Kwadwo’s mom, he started shedding tears. He then asked for forgiveness from Kwadwo and his mom. They forgave him. When he got better, he was discharged from the hospital. Kwadwo was able to have a hearty chat with his father before he left, promising to come back and take up his responsibilities as a father. He came back as promised and was able to open a clothing shop for Kwadwo’s mom, went to see her relatives and performed the necessary marriage rites and finally married Adwoa. Kwadwo was thankful to God for bringing back his dad. His mom too was very happy. From that day onwards Kwadwo seemed to be the most happiest person in the world. Thats the power of a forgiving heart.

The Writer

He was just a simple man and he lived within the community taking part in all their activities, interacting with the people and even playing with the children. The people only knew him to be an employee of the Local Government. In fact they thought he worked for the District Assembly in the town. Little did they know that he was a Writer who was moving from town to town or village to village observing the people and writing nice, humorous and fascinating stories about the people.
He will come to a community and stay there for three or four months and he had no wife and kids because he lost his family on one of his trips. He made a vow to himself never to stop writing stories that will always bring smiles on the faces of people anytime they read them. These stories were always published in the newspapers and he wrote under the pseudonym “Ghana Ba” (Ghana’s son or Son of Ghana) but his real name was Selasie Kuma. He always spent an hour every evening with the men at the palm wine joint in the middle of the town. Most of the men met there after a hard day’s work to placate their souls with the sweet drink of the palm nut tree. Once they gathered there and the drinks started flowing, the stories also flowed. These stories were both entertaining and pleasant but sometimes laced with a dose of comedy and satire. The palm wine seller was always ready to serve more calabashes of the drink the moment he realized that their calabashes were empty. Thus the writer was always able to write down some stories.
Ghana Ba was very ethical in his writings and he always acknowledged the owners of the stories by ending the stories with their initials. He did not want to be accused of plagiarizing people’s thoughts when these stories were eventually published in the local newspaper. He was not much of a drinker but he made sure that he only consumed one small calabash of palm wine. Ghana Ba wanted to be alert and have a clear mind so as not to miss the stories coming from these men. But little did he know that someone was watching him. There was a detective who was working undercover in the community. He was investigating a murder case in the community and he was also living in the community. He would leave as soon as he completed his investigations into the murder of Mr. Kofi Asiamah. Mr. Asiamah was murdered whiles he was on his way to his farm early in the morning three months ago by some unknown people. All attempts by the police investigators to apprehend the culprits proved futile as no one in the community was willing to talk to them about the case. The detective knew he could get information from the palm wine joint since that was the venue for discussing every issue in the community. The moment he saw Ghana Ba, the detective’s instincts told him this man was not a native of the community, so he started watching and following him. He was always reading the stories in the local newspaper, and saw some similarities in those stories with the ones he heard at the palm wine joint. He then concluded that someone who always frequented that joint could be the writer of those stories.
He was being pressured by his superiors to find the culprits as early as possible, and this was giving him sleepless nights since no one was coming forward with information. On that particular day, the detective got to the palm wine joint early and he sat there for an hour sipping his drink before the others joined him. The writer was also there. Two men came in and they started talking about the murder case with one telling the other that he knew the perpetrators of the crime. Just at that very moment, the detective heard some rumblings in his tummy, that was unfortunate, he thought. He tried suppressing it but he could not so he left. He came back after an hour only to meet an empty joint. He decided to visit Ghana Ba and from his observations knew that he could be trusted. Just as he was about to sit down Ghana Ba heard a knock on the door. He wondered who will knock on his door at that time of the night since it was almost 10pm. He opened the door and there stood before him a tall man who was well built, he also realized that the man was in disguise. The detective introduced himself and was ushered into the room. That was when Ghana Ba realized that his cover had been blown. He knew the detective was going to ask him questions about the murder case so he quickly took out his recorder and handed it over to him. He confessed being the writer of the stories but told him that he was not going to publish this particular murder story because he felt the culprits had to be brought to book. Thus, both men promised not to reveal each other’s identity to anyone. Ghana Ba was able to identify the location of the two men who were discussing the murder case at the palm wine joint, thus he made the detective’s work very easy for him. He thanked him and left.
The next morning at dawn, the two men were picked up and upon questioning by the police, they gave information leading to the arrest of the murderers. These two men were baffled as to how the police got to know that they knew the perpetrators of the crime. They then realized that someone might have heard them discussing the issue at the palm wine joint. In the end the murderers were found guilty by the court and jailed for life. Ghana Ba left the community even before those two men were questioned by the police. He moved on to the next town to look for new stories to write, after all he was just a writer and what do writers do? They write stories and bring smiles on the faces of people. Watch out, your town or community could be next on the Writer’s list.

Decision Time For Ghana

Once again Ghana is on the verge of going for her parliamentary and presidential elections and this is the time of the year when all the stake holders in an upcoming election goes into overdrive mode. The Electoral Commission, Political Parties, media, security personnel, the international community etc etc will be observing with keen eyes how Ghanaians conduct themselves before, during and after the elections

First of all, the onus lies on the Electoral Commission to conduct a free, fair and transparent election. But this will not be achieved without the involvement of the other stake holders. They must work with the Electoral Commission to have an incident free election. The voters too must do their part to ensure peace before, during and after the elections. The security agencies must ensure that there are no ballot boxes snatched on Election Day. Anyone caught in that act must be dealt with according to the laws of the land.

Ghanaians must be given the opportunity to make a good choice, no one should impose his or her choice of candidate either presidential or parliamentary on another person. Everyone must be given the opportunity to express his or her opinion on the issues at stake in the upcoming elections. Ghanaians need quality education, good drinking water, good roads, better salaries, quality and affordable healthcare, affordable housing, a nation devoid of corruption, nepotism and cronyism, a transparent government, employment opportunities for the youth. Political parties’ campaigns should be devoid of insults, mudslinging and unrealistic promises as we are being inundated now by the various political parties each promising “one this , one that”. Voters must also debate issues and argue in a matured manner and not because one supports a certain political party so anything they say is right and achievable. If you don’t agree with someone on a political issue, you also have the opportunity to make your point devoid of insults and invectives.

Ghana must be the ultimate winner on 7th December, 2016 and not someone or a group of people who only wants to satisfy their selfish interests. Let’s say no to violence and embrace peace. We should not allow politics to divide our nation and create chaos and confusion amongst us, after all we have only one Ghana and posterity will judge us if we fail to keep and maintain the precious peace we are currently enjoying. We should not fail the coming generations. God bless Ghana, God bless you all.