Ghana’s 63rd Independence day ; a cause to be celebrated or a reason to bow down our heads in shame?
It has been 63 years since the British handed over the mandate of administration to Ghanaian. It was such a historic moment for African politics as Ghana was the first in the sub Saharan enclave to achieve such a feat. It has been a long journey since.
Attainment of independence
With independence day approaching, do we really have a cause to celebrate or we simply have to bow down our heads in shame. The country has chalked up successes since the attainment of independence in 1957. The country is widely regarded as a bastion of democracy and stability both in Africa and the world at large and has normally been dubbed as the ‘Hope of Africa’ by various political analysts. This does not come as a surprise as the country is noted for the organization of free and fair elections since returning to Democratic rule in 1992. This wouldn’t have made much difference if the country was to be located in another part of the world.
However, considering the fact that elections in this part of the world (Africa) has always ended on a wrong note, our conflict management capability as a country is worth celebrating. The success does not end there as the country has worked very hard in maintaining a balance in key positions of government. The country can convincingly boast of being one of the few countries to have women occupy the positions of the Chief Justice, Speaker of Parliament and Chairperson of the Electoral Commission. From the foregoing, it would be far from strange to assume that the wait for a female president will be over soon.
The year 2007 was a remarkable one in the history books of Ghana as the country’s Golden Jubilee celebration was even made better with the discovery of oil deposits along the shores of Cape Three Points. This was greeted with sheer joy and optimism and since then the country has reaped a lot of economic benefits from this discovery. Ghana has also made progress in numerous measures of well-being. The country’s healthcare scorecard is one of the most impressive within the sub Saharan region. The country is still one of the few nations within the region with a universal health insurance scheme thanks to the laudable National Health Insurance Scheme initiative. In terms of education, the country has also worked hard to increase access to education by increasing its expenditure in the educational sector with the recent introduction of the Free SHS Programme.
Notwithstanding all these remarkable successes chalked up since 1957, the country still has a long way to go. It is very sad to note that our setbacks as a country outweigh our successes. The chronic disease of corruption has totally engulfed our political and institutional system. Corruption has become part of us to the extent that life has become utterly unbearable for the average Ghanaian who has no connection to people in positions of power. Sadly enough, this situation has become a norm to the extent that you would have to virtually pay your way through in order to achieve success in this country.
Rate of Corruption
The expression “Hand go Hand Come” which is normally associated with Ghanaians clearly serves as a pointer to how great we have fallen backwards as a country in an attempt to actually formalize corruption under the disguise of a situation where nobody loses. It wouldn’t have been a problem if this were to be true but the harsh reality is that, the effect of corruption on the country as a whole is overwhelming. In 2017, it was reported that the Tema Port alone loses about $150 million in a year due to corruption and this called for the introduction of the paperless system.
After 63 years of so-called independence, the country is still caught up in an economic maelstrom notwithstanding the numerous natural resources that the country can proudly boast of. It is very surprising that our numerous possessions have contributed very little to our progress as a nation. One of our greatest mistakes as a country has been the over reliance on imports. This mistake of ours has costed as dearly as a country by undervaluing most of our possessions on the world market considering the fact that most of our exports are normally in the raw state.
After six decades of independence, housing which is supposed to be a basic need is a massive problem within our boundaries. The country suffers from acute housing shortage. The situation is egregious to the extent that owning a house is considered to be a luxury. The result of this has been the emergence of slums and squatter settlements throughout major cities in the country. The harsh reality is that the country’s capital city which is supposed to be the face of the country is proudly home to most of the worst slums in the country. This would always hold true for everyone unless for those who perceive Accra to be the few posh residential neighborhoods where a few Ghanaians live in conspicuous affluence.
Unemployment has been order of the day for most part of the post-independence era.
Education they say is the key but interestingly enough, this expression does not hold in Ghana as seemed to have changed the key. Graduate unemployment has been a norm within the country for several years as you now need something more than a certificate to secure a decent job within the country. The requirement has now extended beyond just having a decent certificate to include something more than a hard chest and a flat butt as well as political connections to secure a job. Notwithstanding the laudable policies that have been put in place to improve education, education in Ghana is still nothing to write home about. The fact that there are still schools under trees in a country that was the first to gain independence in the sub Saharan region is a valid reason for us to bow down our heads in shame.
Several corporations that played significant roles in driving the economy in the past has been sold or crippled by our incompetent leaders over the last six decades. One can make mention of Ghana Airways and Ghana Telecom. The collapse of the Black Star Line leaves much to be desired.
After six decades of managing our own affairs, can we confidently boast of what we have achieved so far or we simply have to bow down our heads in shame? Maybe the whites were not so wrong after all. We are the authors of our own story and our future as a nation totally depends on us. Whether the narrative would change or not is a question of when rather than how because we have no excuse to be a failed state after 63 years of independence.
By; Samuel Odoom