Monday, March 19, 2007

As the Week Opens in Accra: Thoughts on...Championing Who'sExcellence?

Originally uploaded by ekbensah.

'We are going to see that we create our own African personality and identity. We again rededicate ourselves in the struggle to emancipate other countries in Africa; for our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent.'

I’ve been walking a lot lately--mainly from work at East Legon to the Tetteh-Quarshie interchange, where I catch a tro-tro to the Spintex Road. When I walk, it humbles me, and in walking, I get the opportunity to observe many things in Accra: the stench of the open gutters; the unsafe 207 BENZ buses that ply the Ghanaian routes; the largely-uneducated masses of men who, once in the city, opt to become taxi drivers, vulcanisers—or worse.

Ghana is 50, yet we have an energy crisis when we shouldn’t. Let’s face it, though: energy problems are not unique to this country, for in 2006, Europe suffered blackouts, prompting the EU to factor energy as a key challenge and policy area for its burgeoning 27-member EU.

In Ghana, we have just resumed the load-shedding management programme, which started Thursday—some days after Ghana@50 dignitaries left.

If there are any lessons to be learnt from our former colonizers—the Brits—where Kufuor is sojourning for the next couple of days on the invitation of the Queen of England for a state visit, it is maintaining and retaining any culture of excellence that Ghana might have, as well as possessing a visceral disgust for mediocrity.

Had this energy crisis afflicted the UK, heads would have rolled, and incumbent Minister of Energy—Joseph Adda—would have been forced to resign. It would not just have been the opposition that would have called for it, but the buoyant and vibrant press, including the inimitable tabloids, such as the Sun.

Today, in Ghana, our opposition – seriously ineffectual and uninterested in moving the nation forward talks the talk, and occasionally walks…out of Parliament – for posturing sake.

I wonder how far this is excellence in the making.

Streetlights stand on the Spintex road – have done for a month now – and nobody has publicly questioned why commuters and drivers alike ply dark roads in the evening, and at night.

We are known for our peaceful and pacific disposition. I sometimes wonder whether our attitude is not just passive and pathetic.

Nkrumah talked about an "African personality" -- about the African, when given a chance, doing things for himself – when he blazed the trail for Ghana and Africa fifty years ago.

Ghanaians must not, and cannot afford to, disappoint the dreams of that great visionary.

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