The last time I wrote a birthday piece in the Daily Graphic was on March 29, 2016. It was the birthday of the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and I wrote a piece to celebrate his birthday.
He was an opposition candidate then. I titled the piece, “This is Akufo-Addo.” I said many things about him that many Ghanaians didn’t know. In our country, the loudest in judging you are the people who don’t know you. After that piece, I met a few people who said they were influenced by what I wrote and were going to vote for him. I hope they did.
Every day is somebody’s birthday. And so today is my birthday. But I don’t intend to write about myself. But I am a man of the pen. I am a Gemini in the true sense of its meaning. And so I shall write to celebrate my birthday. After all it is Ramadan. Ramadan is a period of reflection, prayer and dedication to Godliness. And so I dedicate today to a little reflection on our country. We are a blessed nation, not by all standards, but by far. We can argue or even quarrel about what it means to be blessed. Poverty, ignorance, disease are not synonyms for blessedness. And these abound in our country. To that extent, my proposition can be refuted. But I compare us to other nations and I come to the conclusion that we are indeed, a blessed nation. I am thankful to God for making me a Ghanaian. I know many Ghanaians who tell me they have given up on our country. And there are many more, who hold on to the hope that we can get it right and move our nation forward. The man about whom I wrote on March 29, 2016, the President of Ghana, is one such optimist. I have become infected by his sense of optimism. The passion with which he articulates his vision of a Ghana beyond aid, tells volumes of such optimism.
The fact that many of our people are still afflicted by poverty is not for want of trying. Over the last three decades, Ghana has gone through various economic programmes, all in a bid to improve the living standards of the people: Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), Programme of Action to Mitigate the Social Costs of Adjustment (PAMSCAD), Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) and Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPIC). Now we are under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, which the government is determined to extricate itself from by the close of this year.
We have been colonised and have fought for our freedom. We have been ruled by autocrats and democrats. We have seen periods of pure anguish and pain. But for 25 years, we have experienced relative peace and stability. Whatever the minuses of the Fourth Republic, it remains the most enduring of all our experiments with democracy. It is to our credit that all the living leaders of the Fourth Republic came together at the Black Star Square to celebrate the 25th milestone of the Fourth Republic. We have come far. The journey ahead is long and perhaps will be arduous. But with bold and determined leadership, there is hope of a coming glory.
If everyday is somebody’s birthday, and if everybody will dedicate their birthday to making a commitment to commit to the forward movement of our country and do the little things that matter, I believe the vision of attaining a Ghana beyond aid, will be realised in a generation as envisaged by the President. The government will soon unveil the charter for a Ghana beyond aid. But even before the charter is unveiled, it is important that we all realise that we all have a role to play in the realisation of this vision. It is important that we shun cynicism. My friend Gabby Otchere Asare Darko has always said that “the Singaporean is not genetically disposed to be disciplined, while we are not.” In other words, we can decide to commit to be disciplined too. We have Ghanaians living in Singapore, America and other parts of the world, where the streets are not littered. So Ghanaians can live in Ghana and not litter.
The GFA and matters arising
Can I end this piece without touching on the most topical issue in Ghana today? The GFA and matters arising. While it is regrettable, it also gives us an opportunity to re-organise our football. Football as they say, “is the passion of the nation.” People pay to go and watch football matches with the belief that they are watching genuine and truly competitive games. It is ,therefore, truly devastating that Ghanaians are being told that for the most parts, they were watching scams and theatricals. Fortunately, many Ghanaians support the moves by the government to restore sanity. Whichever way we look at it, it is Ghana’s image that has been sullied and it is well that those who have been put in charge of Ghana at this time are not shirking their responsibility. Ghana football shall be back.
There is hope for our country. We have succeeded in forging a nation in the true sense of the word and I believe that “spring shall be re-born under our steps.” Today is my birthday and as Kwami Sefa Kayi will say, “if you say a prayer, say one for me too.”
The writer Mustapha Abdul-Hamid is the Minister of Information.