Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ghana's Independence day: 57 and Held For Ransom

Ransom,noun: a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity. (Webster's dictionary)
Ghana marks 57 years since Independence from British colonial rule today. Every year, I try to write something reflective of our challenges on our birthday, in the hopes that we can be clear-sighted and improve by the time our next birthday rolls around.
Ghana has been kidnapped. Our whole developmental process is being held for ransom in the sum of millions of dollars annually. It's a sad state of affairs, and we are all aware of it. We are all upset and angry at being held for ransom, just like every victim of a kidnapping feels. Who is holding us for ransom? We are.
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We claim to love our country and complain about things going wrong. Yet, we are the people holding our own development captive. Whenever we pay a bribe to an official, whenever we demand a bribe, whenever we spend our working time on Facebook, whenever we do not attend to customers or patients because we can't be bothered, every time we increase the cost of a good or service without due cause, every time we refuse to pay our taxes, we are holding our 'beloved' country for ransom.
Notice that beloved is in quotes above, because nothing we do indicates that we love our country. The politician at the top is only concerned about lining his pockets with our money, and unfortunately so are we. We refuse to sacrifice even the smallest of comforts for our development, but we complain endlessly. Our leaders are short-sighted because many of us are short-sighted.
Our health-care professionals hold us for ransom everyday, and unfortunately the ransom is usually our lives. The training of nurses and doctors in Ghana is HEAVILY subsidized with tax-payer's money, just to make sure that people who cannot afford to pay full fees can go into these professions. We even go to the extent of paying nurses in training an allowance every month (GASP!) just for being in nursing school. Yet, after graduation, they refuse to serve the same tax-payers whose money trained them. Doctors refuse to attend to patients routinely in order to demand for more pay. I personally have nothing against fighting for better conditions of service, but in order to even the playing field, perhaps medical students should pay the full fees for their medical education. Since our health proffessionals want to be paid similar amounts as what those outside the country are paid, why don't we save our hard-earned tax-payer's money so you can pay for your own medical education? Who cares if you have to take loans to pay those fees? That's what doctors in many other countries had to do in school. Besides, why should we care if you don't care enough to take care of the lives you pledged to save, and were trained with OUR money to save? What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
The hospitals some of you work in don't even have stand-by generators for emergencies. Basic facilities are absent in many health care facilities.You're going on strike and refusing to attend to patients because you're earning 1000% more than the average Ghanaian instead of 9000% more. Why don't you actually FIGHT for some of these basic things?
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I do not mean to turn this post into a lambasting, but frankly, enough is enough! Why don't we stop our endless griping and complaining and ACTUALLY do something for a change? Something that is actually UNSELFISH and truly PATRIOTIC? Like finding the missing baby from KATH so we can all move on. How that happened is still beyond me, but unfortunately, a baby is missing from one of the largest hospitals in Ghana(GASP! again).
And just in case you're still looking for some leaders to blame for our      issues, don't bother. They're too busy fighting to be paid 10000% more  than the average Ghanaian, you know, just like you. They're also  fighting for important things like appearing on videos to sing Tweaa!
I think we all need to take a cue from the many inspiring people I know making a difference. Kwabena Danso. Ato Ulzen-Appiah. Ekow Mensah. Many many more of such names that I cannot mention due to time and space giving up their comforts to help develop young people and our nation. Thank you for making a difference. I take my cue from you, and I hope others will too.