When asked what may be the greatest reason behind our glorious retrogression as a people, a chunk of us may attribute it to some demons somewhere― considering how spiritual we are.
A lot more may blame it on lack of resources while others may claim that it is a headache of bad leadership. Give a people one of the best leaders that has ever lived. If they are not ready to change their attitude to suit that leader’s visions, they are going nowhere. Give a people all the freedom they may ever need. If they are not ready to turn over a new leaf, their bad attitude will be their slave master. The Ghanaian problem is simply a problem of character! You can’t have an American dream with a Ghanaian attitude. You can’t desire a nation where the laws and systems work when the people therein are not willing to make the laws work. You can’t dream of a corruption-free state when the common Ghanaian condemns corruption when they desire power yet practice it when they get power. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too!
The Ghanaian headache all boils down to a problem of attitude― bad attitude. Our progress has been retarded for all these years not because we are not skilled enough but because we don’t have enough good character. A nation is built not only with skills but character, too. Skills without character become a disaster. When a skilled man who has no regard for human lives reaches the top, he becomes a threat to all those beneath him. He uses them to his advantage. He exploits people and abuses power. He apportions opportunities according to his favourites and not necessarily those who deserve such. A nation full of skilled people without character is a disaster waiting to happen!
The roots of all our problem as a people… is character. This nation is going nowhere if the people who are ruled lack as much character as those doing the ruling. If a people say they want a change in leadership, the multi-million dollar question they should be asked is whether they are going to change their attitude because, without it, no leader can ever get anywhere.
When we leave our broken down vehicles on the shoulders of a busy road for other innocent drivers to run into, it is not a matter of bad leadership but bad attitude. When we drive recklessly and kill ourselves and many others, the cause is not some demons somewhere but a sheer display of our indiscipline everywhere.
Floods kill us every rainy season. It has almost come to stay that every rainy season should be a funeral season. As long as we keep choking our gutters and indiscriminately litter about, there is no way our cities will be flood-free. Until we discern that the problem is a character problem, we will keep going back and forth in our fight against floods! Our young girls have been kidnapped for months. A whole CID boss is so relaxed about these lives at stake, to the extent of lying about being found. The uncomfortable question we should ask is, “How did such an incompetent person get to be the boss so quickly and how many of her kind are occupying several sensitive positions elsewhere?” When we put politics ahead of competence, this is how far we can get because… our problem has always been a character problem. Politics without a sense of humanity is a crime. Politics is supposed to be a solution but to the Ghanaian, it has unfortunately become a puzzle we need to solve. It has become a den of people with only little character. We pretend to fight galamsey in public yet approve of it in secret. When the culprit is another Ghanaian, the law works. When the culprit is Chinese, bribery works. Our problem is a character problem; a character of double standards! If to us politics means defending wrong even at the peril of lives, then we are indeed criminals. We have lost value for lives. Indeed, we have lost value for our values. We teach our children to cut corners by buying their way through life. As of when they would have reached the top, corruption would have been their language. Greed and selfishness would have been their middle names. We forget that training people to build good character is as important as training them to build great skills. Skill develops a nation but before and after that development, you need citizens of good character. Honesty is a rare commodity on the Ghanaian market. Each of us is on an adventure to outsmart others. Even when prices of goods are reduced, we still overprice them. Our selfishness clouds our thoughts each passing day. Our wanton desire for profits even make us sell expired goods to our fellow Ghanaians. We repackage spoilt goods and still sell them to others because we have no sense of humanity. And… that is where the problem is― a character problem! If this nation ever wants to be set on a path of great development, we ought to know that it all begins with developing the character of the common Ghanaian; a Ghanaian with integrity. The foundation of every great nation is great character; great discipline. Where there’s indiscipline, there’s anarchy. Where people set laws they are exempted from, eventually those laws become as useless as those who made them. The common Ghanaian should be consciously bound by an honor code. A man of honor will not take money that doesn’t belong to them even if no one is watching. A man who is guided by good conscience will hold on to their waste until they come across the next bin. Men of honor don’t give in to anybody… regardless of who is involved. And… these are the people who will be a solution to all our problems! — Kobina Ansah is a Ghanaian playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), an Accra-based writing firm. His new play, THE BOY CALLED A GIRL, shows on July 20th at National Theatre.