loving Ghana, You Need a Good Heart

My love for my country has no limit and I hope to continue loving her. But, you will all agree with me that if you don’t have a good heart, you can easily give up on Ghana. In this post I will tell you why you need a good heart before you love Ghana with all your heart.
Sometimes you wonder why we still elect our leaders every four years. These leaders always have good policies whiles they are moving around canvassing for the votes of the citizens. They entice the citizens with sugar coated words and honey sweetened promises, but once they are elected and assume the mantle of authority, they start developing cold feet and that’s where they show their true colors. Whenever they are reminded of their campaign promises, they deny making those promises. Don’t be heartbroken after reading this post. The following issues should motivate you to do more for your country and not break your heart.
It should not come to you as a surprise when you see our contractors still constructing open drains in this country. Whoever gives out the contract should have insisted on covered drains. It seems due diligence has eluded us in the award of contracts. We still construct school buildings with poor ventilation in this modern era. Also most of these schools are constructed without toilet facilities.
Why do we also wait for several infrastructure to deteriorate before we take action? Our stadia, hospitals, tourist centers, roads etc etc are all crying for maintenance but it seems no one cares. Our police service is corrupt and most of our security services’ recruitment leaves much to be desired. They sell more than a hundred thousand forms to potential recruits who are eager to be employed by these agencies, but they end up picking just a minute number of the applicants. This process is even fraught with corruption and the so called protocol list. It will shock you to know that before the forms are sold for recruitment, they have already selected their recruits. Some of these applicants have to part with various sums of money through middlemen with the promise of being assured of getting picked.
Why do we always pile rubbish on our roads, streets, market centers and wait for the government to mobilize people to clear them? You walk through most of our market centers and you realize that vehicles can’t go through them. Most of the vehicle lanes in our markets have been taken over by the traders. Its always annoying and heartbreaking to listen to these same traders lamenting about the inability of the Ghana National Fire and Rescue Service to quench market fires when they arrive at the scene. These same market women forget that they are the same people who have encroached on the vehicle lanes in the markets thereby blocking access to the market by the fire tenders. With this attitude, more market fires will happen unless we change for the better.
We live in a country where everything is given a political color. Someone commits a crime and once the person is about to be punished he is given a political color. What even annoys me is that, anytime a politician embezzles state funds and he is found guilty, the person is dealt with leniently but when a normal citizen commits a crime, he is punished severely. Every government that comes will always abandon the projects of the previous government. With this attitude, how will we develop as a nation? When will we support each other in terms of innovations? Enough of my rantings. I have a good heart so I will not be heartbroken by what I see in this country. If you have a good heart, you can love Ghana to the max. Yen ara ya asase ni (This is our land).

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Our Christmas Past

Many years gone past, Christmas in Ghana was a festive occasion where we had a feeling of belongingness, good neighborliness, spirit of sharing and giving to the extent that we saw each other as one people irrespective of tribe, creed, race or gender. Can we go back and talk about how we celebrated the festive occasion? Several of these local stories will just fascinate and amaze you. Below are some of the stories shared with me by friends who have nostalgic feelings about how they celebrated Christmas some years ago.

Children in the localities will build Christmas houses using palm fronds, which are well decorated with flowers and these huts are well built with a chamber and a hall. We also had bamboo with explosives in them and we blasted till midnight, we light bonfires, children visit their friends in their numbers. The children sleep in these huts till the New Year and the huts are then destroyed. They enjoy having their meals in these huts.

“Also children walk through the communities with some “Bronya” (Christmas) tunes, they sing around the neighborhoods beating some “konkos” (empty tins, Milo or Milk tins etc) and stop by homes and get some foods and drinks as well. Anything goes.”-Naomi Kokuro

“I travel to my hometown and all the towns in that area have picnics with brass band. All the youth from these towns dance through all the other surrounding towns till New year. Each day a different town’s youth will pass through all the other towns singing and dancing. My gradma cooks chicken light soup with fufu and after we’re done eating she gives us soft drinks and bronya biscuits.”-Marian Clara Adeaba

”During Christmas, we will buy firecrackers and engage our friends across the street in a firecracker battle to find out who has the most powerful firecrackers.”-Yao Kumadoh

“We called ours Knockout, every child will cry to their parents to give them coins to buy firecrackers aka knockout so they can light them. It was fun.” “My dad will sew three different dresses for us every Bronya, one each for 24th night, Christmas and New Year. With my new “three sisters socks.”- Marian Clara Adeaba

“Every 24th night we will go to church and sing Christmas songs and pray to welcome Christmas and the birth of Christ.”-Naomi Kokuro

“Every Christmas we will start cooking the special food in the morning and eat it as supper.”-Marian Clara Adeaba

“Our parents prepare food and share with our neighbours. My grandma always buy biscuits, drinks and goat meat and share with the tenants in our house, and ever since it has become the norm.”

“New dresses were sewn for us to be worn on Christmas Sunday. This time, from now till Christmas day, children who are stubborn become obedient. If you like send them to the moon, they will go because they fear you will not buy  bronya atade3 (Christmas dresses) for them.”-Naomi Kokuro

You can also share your stories with me. Tell me how you celebrated Christmas some years ago in your localities.

 

The Rains Are Coming, How Prepared Are We?

It’s March 13, 2017 and we all just heard from the Ghana Meteorological Agency that the rains will be very severe this year. I watched and listened to the news on tv with my mouth wide open, and I asked myself, “how prepared are we for the coming rains as predicted?” Then thoughts of last two years flood and fuel explosion at a fuel station near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle started flooding my mind. Sorry for taking your minds back to that tragedy in which many people lost their lives. Are we really ready and prepared for the coming rains?

Are we ready to clear the choked drains? Will we be able to make sure that all structures on water ways are demolished? Can we find out those who issued the permits for such structures and let them face the full rigors of the law? Do our leaders have the political will to crack the whip on these law breakers to serve as a deterrent to other citizens? It is time for us to get it right and put our acts together and make sure that not a single Ghanaian life is lost during this year’s rainy season.

We can also do our part by not dumping rubbish into the drains, desilting choked drains, disposing off rubbish properly, and reporting people who go contrary to the sanitation laws in our communities. We should not wait for disasters to strike before we call on the government to come to our aid. Anytime I hear that phrase, I become very much annoyed to the core. We also don’t want to see the annual ritual of politicians touring disaster zones and sharing relief items to victims. Those relief items will never be enough for the disaster victims.

In my candid opinion, the name of the National Disaster Management Organization should be changed to National Disaster Prevention Organization. The warning signs are all over the place, the earlier we act, the better for this country. The future generations will like to see a Ghana that is devoid of floods. A Ghana where our city authorities will walk the talk and have the political will to take the right actions to cleanse our cities of filth.

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.

I Think Of A Future…

I think of a future where the color of your skin will not be used to determine who or what you are but skills, ideas and leadership qualities and everything will be determined by merit. I think of a future where positive images of Africa will be projected to the whole world. I think of a future where Africans will own their own success stories and not by outsiders. I think of a future where our children will have three nutritious square meals a day, access to better education and better health care. I think of a future where we will stop behaving like the vulture that vows to build its nest after the rains but forgets about it the moment the rain stops. I think of a future where people will stop dumping rubbish into the drains and wait till the rains set in for floods to wreak havoc before these drains are desilted.

I think of a future where our city authorities and planners will plan our cities, towns and villages with proper drainage systems so that when the rains start falling we will not hear the popular refrain “the government should come to our aid”. I think of a future where civil service employees will not take bribes before locating your files or documents. I think of a future where government employees will stop pretending to be working and the government will also stop pretending to be paying them. I think of a future where you can apply for your passport, birth certificate, driving license and other documents online so as to minimize human contact as low as possible. I think of a future where there will be a policy that will ensure that government appointees including Ministers of State will send their children to public schools right from the basic level to the tertiary level. I think of a future where government officials will not fly out to seek medical care abroad when sick but will ensure a good healthcare system in our country. I think of a future where our governments will stop running a “family and friends” government.

I think of a future where recruitment into the various security services will be devoid of fraudsters and greedy security personnel who extort money from potential recruits. I think of a future where voters will vote based on policies and their conscience rather than the money given to them by politicians. I think of a future where government officials will accept responsibility for their mistakes and resign rather than indulge in politics of equalization. I think of a future where contracts will be properly awarded to competent companies rather than they being awarded due to their ties to the party in government. I think of a future where corruption will be reduced to the barest minimum if not totally eradicated from this country.

I think of a future where Africa will unite and stop the neocolonialists in their tracks. I think of a future where Africa will be really independent politically, economically and socially. A future where our leaders will not kowtow to the whims and caprices of the western powers. A future where Africa will add value to her natural resources and make sure her people benefit fully. An Africa devoid of wars, conflicts, drought and famine. A future where Africa will speak with one voice against the imperialists. A future where African leaders will not extend their stay in office but exit when the applause is loud. What are your thoughts about the future? Kindly share them with me in your comments.