Notes from the Ghanaman File: Ghana's 60 years of nationhood

A year in history today was when Dr Kwame Nkrumah and his henchmen stood on that podium at the now Black Star or Independence Square and made the now famous, ‘the battle has ended, and Ghana, our beloved country is free forever’. Osagyefo’s voice delivering this freedom speech has re-echoed on radio and TV every year for the past 60 years and still heard across our land as we mark this auspicious occasion of our nationhood. Several commentaries have been churned out about our dear nation and whether we have done well or failed as a nation. I have heard some very simplistic analogies of comparing Ghana to a human being who at 60 is a retiree and has nothing to show for all his working life. In fact, some of our compatriots are emphatic that, Ghana is a failed state not worthy of celebrating it at 60. Let’s do this debate together. Has Ghana anything to show for 60 years of its post-independent life? On the other hand, has Ghana failed as a nation? Those who hold the position that Ghana is a failed state compare her to the Asian states of Singapore and Malaysia who gained their independence around the same time as Ghana. These are countries who came to pick palm seedlings to turn them into gold. These two Asian countries by hard work and focus have pulled themselves from developing third world countries into super second world states who are able to offer grants to countries like Ghana. Indeed, by comparing Ghana to these states, the picture appears very gloomy. However, I believe that the rapid development of not just these two states, but Asia as a continent should be looked at beyond Ghana because we can only fairly compare our continents of Africa and Asia and arrive at what variables have accounted for one of them making great strides whilst the other is stagnating or growing slowly and you cannot rule out the international geo-political influence. The question of colonialism and how it impacted Africa’s growth cannot be used in this case as Asian nations like India, Malaysia etc also went through same phases. The question is what they did after gaining independence. India for example, systematically embarked on building a strong educational niche by making technological training a fulcrum of their plan. Today, they are noted globally for their technological advancements in ICT. I was in Germany over a decade ago when they wanted to open up for immigrants to come in and support their labour force and they specifically said they wanted Indians with ICT expertise first. With India’s technological advancement, they have an automobile industry. Other countries like South Korea etc have all made strides in Technology and engineering to their advantage.Yes,so there are things African countries, including Ghana failed to do after independence. The argument stretches to leadership. At the onset of Ghana’s nationhood, Osagyefo’s leadership was touted as God-sent to drive the young nation into a giant icon on the African continent. His overthrow has become a subject of academic and leadership discussion or debate over the years. After him, military and civilian leaders who have taken up the mantle have all been accused of not meeting the expectations of the people and the cyclical democratic changes still don’t seem to take us to the level hoped for. The truth is, every country gets the leadership it deserves. Why? Are our leaders dropped from space? Is it not the same ordinary people who aspire to be leaders? So, if at individual levels, we are not visionary, focused, truthful, morally upright, reliable, dependable etc, why should we expect anything else when we become leaders? We live in a cultural milieu bereft of patriotism, honesty, creativity, innovation and supporting  wrong doing indirectly. With this, how can we have a higher expectation of our leaders? On the whole, it will be unfair to say Ghana has made no progress in 60 years. Those of us who started growing up in the country-side can testify after going round the country today that, some level of development has taken place that we can be proud of. Our rating among the comity of African countries and the global world has not been bad. Without mentioning our enjoyment of respect for our democratic credentials, our country is respected among nations for various achievements at both individual and national levels and Ghanaians are a respected people the world over. For that alone I find it difficult to agree that there is nothing to celebrate. Even at the time most Ghanaians complain of falling educational standards, international students from across Africa and other places are in our institutions of higher learning.We can go on and on with evidence of the good things that have happened to our dear nation and the hope for the next 60 years. To be fair to ourselves, we can say on a scale that, we could have done far more than we have achieved in 60 years. As teachers write on report cards, ‘there is more room of improvement’ but let’s pat ourselves at the back and give Ghana three cheers! God bless our home land Ghana, and make our nation great and strong!Ghana,Ayekoo!

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