FROM KOGELO TO CHICAGO writes Earl Ankrah
Earl Ankrah Dares Ghanaian ‘Movers & Shakers’ To Set A Higher Vision For the Nation – Beyond Their Comfort Zones. [This article was written two weeks after Barack Obama was elected into his first presidential term]
3am calls, prank calls, 18m cracks, 150,000 dollar wardrobes;
Hockey mums, Special needs kids, Pit-bulls;
Fist bumps, mud slings, Bailouts, shout-outs, winks, lipsticks;
Suspended campaigns, Saturday Night Live;
Acorn Bradley effect, coat tail effect;
Rev. Wright, Cardinal Eghan,
Collin Powell: who makes the right case for the ascension of B. Hussein,
After making the wrong case for the toppling of S. Hussein;
‘The one’, ‘that one’: Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Tina Fey, Bill Clinton, Bill Ayers, Joe;
Can I call u Joe? Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman, Joe the plumber, Joe six-pack;
Maverick, Messiah, Moslem; Moose, measuring the drapes, sour grapes…
Opinion polls, exit polls… A fortnight later… The jolts & jostles, the suspense & euphoria are over; Perhaps it’s time to reflect on these for a moment. And let the essence of it all resonate…
Far from what the world is trumpeting, what just happened to Uncle Sam isn’t the beginning of a new era. It’s actually the climax of decades of shifts & shoves towards the fulfillment of MLK’s “dream”.
The Obama crescendo rather constitutes a referendum; in fact, two: A referendum on the profile of a Blackman; and a referendum on New-Age leadership.
Overwhelming white support proves that Americans had already bought into MLK’s vision on ‘content of character’ & were just waiting for ‘the one’.
My focus is however on new age leadership—one which campaigns on what’s expedient, than on what sounds politically correct. Obama’s gambles on: discourse with ‘rogue nations’ without pre-conditions; troops withdrawal in times of war; initial stand by Rev Wright; condemning irresponsible fatherhood among blacks; potentially politically suicidal positions to take—but takes matters from the ‘business as usual’ levels to levels of ‘what we really need to do now’!
What makes them remarkable was ‘the audacity’ to take-on these ‘unrealistic’ demands under “the fierce urgency of now!” & the resounding “yes we can” refrain that drove them.
Our issues in GH are neither higher nor lower than Uncle Sam’s… they’re just different.
But in that same spirit maybe we need a fierce review of the priorities politicians have offered our people these past 4 by 4 years of the 4th Republic: (Fill-up roads, skeletal school blocks, kvip’s ..) are all fine. But man, if with all the resources we possess now, they can’t offer any higher packages, what can they offer in the nearest future, when the mid colour in our national flag begins to fade [And it will!!] Sure I can hear the usual “one step @ a time, “making do with what we’ve got… blah, blah.“
But isn’t it time we started looking at the bigger picture?
Besides miles & miles of Shangri-la culture across the land, thousands of our youth are stuck between high school & Uni, marking time or attempting to be ‘doing something’ with their lives. Droves of girls, (potential higher-level brains) attend ‘adepamsco’-sewing in kiosks, crashing into hair-dressing and makeup kiosk-schools, attending so-called ‘computer classes’. The slightly advantaged ones get to ‘open’ boutiques. The Boys, (potential scholars & innovators) hang around the hood, scouting for visas, hip-life record deals, attending unaccredited backyard schools or worse still, managing ‘comm centers’ – now upgraded into internet cafes. Some of them assail some of you for non-existent low paid jobs so they can keep their heads above water. Holding yourself from discouraging them, you take their CVs & promise “you’ll hear from me” – no fault of yours of course.
For decades, our highways have been plagued with legions of dog-chain peddlers, yet we look away from that & nod @ the headlines which scream: “We’re Getting There”. No wonder we still chant the shameless refrain: “we’ve got cheap labor” to the investment world for exploit.
We’ve subconsciously embraced the notion that we are diminutive in stature and hasten to squirt some weird ideological colorings over it. Poverty in our parts of the world has long ceased being an economic status. It’s now a culture – the inevitability of which we defend on impulse. Same as to pleasure, we can be addicted to non-pleasure. And that we already have.
Moreover, we’ve woefully relinquished our responsibility as the flagstaff of Africa…
We play audience to a wanton carnival of corruption on the continent by predatory governments; incessant militia activities – fueled by the greed of drop-out western arms salesmen; a ‘free for all’ sale of African companies to foreign interests – mostly in fulfillment of dodgy foreign loan pre-conditions; tensive elections, opaque transactions, pointless photo-ops with Western leaders.
We, the self-acclaimed enlightened sons of the land, supposed to be the mirror bearers, have been asleep @ the switch. And the only times we’re awake, we pump wind into these sails of irresponsibility, trumpeting such pitiful rhetoric as, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, ‘we need to deal with the basics first’, andmore such backward positions that could frustrate Fred Flintstone.
Our nation is entrapped in a bottomless vortex of inevitable reliance on all forms of foreign aid for everything- including toilets, & no one has been able to generate the guts to even accommodate the vision that we can break away from these, anytime in our lifetime (if at all).
Rather, we readily cough-up logic, economically correct reasons why we cant-ever; thereby leaving us to swallow all the bitter (now normal to us) side dishes that accompany them: leaving our markets open, no direct investment in industry, no subsidies for local industry, etc – a combination recipe for infinite unemployment, a choke on creativity; and more reliance.
And check this out! u know our next big ambition? It’s for our ports to become the main distributary hub for inland West Africa, of freights from around the World: the traffic is from ‘out-in’, not ‘in-out’. After all, we only need a couple of chop-boxes to ship out our entire exports per year.
The economic & monetary principles & policies we idolize over here, change like the weather elsewhere. Despite the taboos on gov’ts’ involvement in private ventures, we now watch in admiration, as western architects of economic policies administer concoctions of PAMSCAD & SAP on their private parts. Even these erratic (if not discretionary) measures swing on see-saws of trial & error & desperate multi-national shuttle diplomacy, just like backstreet auto-mechanics @ work. You know several other rules in the book that they’ve been violating even before these crises.
Years back, when China crossed a certain threshold of positive growth, these same guys said: the Chinese economy was going to crash…we’re still waiting.
And that pops the question: are these principles of economics 4 real at all? Or, to twist Carville’s statement on its head, “is ‘the economy’ stupid?”. The horror of it all is that, these are the very blueprints on which we design our nation’s way forward. Which minds stand the best position to evolve principles coherent with the heartbeat of our economy? Ours or theirs? Or are such initiatives just beyond our competence?
So, what about the audacity to stretch our own minds around all established economic principles, question their viability, and possibly redesign them to our advantage: funny uh?
What about the audacity to demand better terms of trade; the audacity to negotiate for more industrious use of the loans we’re addictively (if not seductively) latched on?
What about the audacity to break away from these loans altogether?
How about the audacity to demand evident transparency from govts?
The audacity to demand sensible wages for the majority of our nationals – if not for their sakes, for the sake of boosting consumer confidence, which we’ve been told is good for the economy.
What about the audacity to redefine the confines and motions of inflation, and take productive steps to pre-empt it, should ‘consumer confidence’ threaten to break its boundaries?
The audacity to ensure that when consumer confidence soars, it will be mostly for home-made products of acceptable quality (diligently coordinated by the state); plus the audacity to ensure the state’s money is spent only on home-made products/services, with probably 5 percent strict exceptions.
What about the audacity to charge a visible manifestation of the contrived economic indicators (in the streets and neighborhoods thru which we drive).
What about the audacity to demand higher campaign promises towards sharper standards of education, realistic healthcare and affordable housing?
What about the audacity to rescue Africa from the bludgeonings of sheer greed?
The audacity to alter the ‘diseases & disasters, flies & floods’ image of Africa that smears tv screens around the world?
To me, our greater challenge lies in how to torch-up the minds of those I call the stray sheep:
-the downtrodden majority who gleefully wallow in the fool’s paradise dangled at them by politicians, eternally woefully ignorant of the better world that exists beyond their stomachs; and could actually fight us for fighting for them! What do we do about them? Shrug and walk away?
Also: click here to read more articles by Earl Ankrah
Has it occurred to us that from the look of things, we will never be penciled in the list of developed nations- not in the foreseeable future—or ever? Does that concern us @ all? Or as long as we’re individually living large and have secured the future of our kids – as responsible parents do – the rest of the nation can perish in hell, for all we care? Has it ever pricked us that in the downward trajectory, these chickens might come home to roost? And by the way, why do we still wait for politicians to tell us what packages they’ve dreamt up for us (from their short-sightedness), than us telling them what we really deserve (from specific minimum starting points; so that the debate will actually commence from how they can creatively deliver those demands & more, given the resources available.
Remember Barack, now mandated to turn the fortunes of the world’s wealthiest nation around, is an African. Infact, an unraped African: he’s neither the descendant of a slave, nor was he colonized. And until Iowa, his ID swung in a limbo. Perhaps that explains why his worldview isn’t shackled to the stereotypical formulae of his contemporaries: clear mind, clear vision.
As he conceded in his acceptance speech, maybe his vision isn’t attainable in a year or possibly a term; but @ least we know the next campaign will be set above this. The bar has been raised.
So, what about the Higher Audacity to pinch our politicians to lift up their game?
Or perhaps we need a complete review of the profile of political leadership in this country – a shift away from the bitter bickering DB/CPP/NDC traditions – to a totally fresh breed, culturally free from revenge, bitterness, pains of the past -with nothing but pure luv & dynamic fresh ideas for this beautiful patch off the Atlantic, on the 3rd rock from the sun. Or will those with party affiliations amongst us strike up the pitch in their various camps?
Let’s just say I don’t know what I’m talking about.
However, I’d rather err on the side of over-confident optimism.
Maybe our nation must for a moment, stop ‘facing realities’ and start ‘facing fantasies’. The so-called American Dream is all about hosting fantasies and working towards them.
We can raise the notch 10 steps higher and creatively deal with it in the fierce urgency of now.
What about “Yes We Can!”
U know, God isn’t too happy about a people who think very little of themselves.
So Will The Real Patriots Please Stand Up! – with a renewed sense of purpose for this adorable land;
united in eutopic vision, instead of judging each other thru the prisms of our own static stereotypes?
’Cos from Kogelo to Chicago; thru DC to GH; the euphoria over, a fortnight l8r, the bar elevated. It’s time to let the essence resonate…
Tswa, ’Manye Aba!
Written by Earl Ankrah
Oral Ofori is Founder and Publisher at www.TheAfricanDream.net, a digital storyteller and producer, and also an information and research consultant.