My fellow Ghanaians,

Another week has begun, and one is welcomed to the usual Ghanaian Politics of Insults (POI) as the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections draw closer. The critical and concerned citizen is forced to reflect and wonder, “Where is Ghana heading towards led by men and women who appear to lack the commonest of common sense?” How many more years can we afford to continue to allow seemingly folly and irrationality to dictate our national fate? How do we, as a nation, prevent power-drunk politicians from exploiting our ethnic and linguistic differences in promoting tribal animosity for their political advantage?

Admittedly, I harbor what might justifiably be considered as false hope that if Ghanaians, especially the youth fought back sooner against theft and corruption of our leaders instead of allowing ourselves to be slaves to the politicians and their deceptions, Ghana would be a better place with our resources reasonably used for the benefit of all. Unfortunately and shamefully, the youth that I’d like to pin my hopes on, have allowed themselves to be exploited by the few lucky ones whose national decisions are geared towards how the next elections could be won. Come December, our honorable politicians would be able to gather enough people to steal ballot boxes and cause mayhem whilst their children move to and fro in their air-conditioned cars, totally unaware of how the masses live.

What makes all these disturbances possible? On what grounds do our politicians find enough people to carry out their nonsensical schemes every fourth year? Why does Ghana out of fear, even have the need to organize national prayers every year of our national elections? In his Nobel Prize lecture (December 11, 1950), Bertrand Russell posited that “If politics is to become scientific, … it is imperative that our political thinking should penetrate more deeply into the springs of human action… If one man offers you democracy and another offers you a bag of grain, at what stage of starvation will you prefer the grain to the vote?“ Could this be the explanation of those who allow themselves to be manipulated by some of our crooked politicians? There is no doubt that a lot of these thugs are paid for their thoughtless and provocative activities but I wonder how many of them could be organized to carry out these bizarre activities, which threaten the peace of our Motherland, if they were occupied with socially beneficial engagements. Nevertheless, the fact that we’ve been doing politics in this way for decades does not mean it should be done that way.

One thing should be crystal clear to you, my dear reader, that this approach to politics has little to do with the development of any nation, notwithstanding how potentially rich it might be. In Ghana, it appears that if one doesn’t want to live in and die of poverty and dreams of becoming rich overnight, they either become a politician or a religious leader (Man of God)- likely a church founder. Both line of businesses thrive on the gullibility of the general populace to achieve their ends. The politician when he enters his new office, with no good policy whatsoever to offer the nation– after giving the electorates unfounded expectations with baseless promises– resorts to treat the state’s resources like his private bank accounts without accountability nor guilt. Space will not even allow me to touch upon the failure and deception of the religious leaders, whose founders and preachers have become literally “filthy” rich by offering nothing substantial nor ethical to their followers but the delusion of health and wealth in this world as well as salvation in the next.

The time, however, for respecting this attitude is long past. The masses must be penetrated with reason in order to enlighten them on how to hold those in power accountable. On constructing a nation whereby hate and envy die because there is nothing to nourish them, the question of national identity must become an integral part of our school curriculum. Our children must be encouraged to discuss what holds our society together if they are to appreciate and recognized a shared sense of national unity and identity that supersede ethnic loyalty. They should be educated to respect people of authority based on their human and intellectual qualities and not ethnic proximity. Whilst dismissing the recent political activities that seek to pit fellow Ghanaians against each other as highly unwelcome, we should be aware that we cannot hope for a peaceful Ghana and accountable governance without an informed electorate. An informed electorate is very decisive for our national well-being.

Regrettably, the December’s election is going to cost Ghana millions of cedis; money that could otherwise be used in providing housing, energy, education, health and infrastructure for the benefit of Mother Ghana. We are all guilty. For without our blind and conscious indifference, our politicians would not be able to stuff millions away to pay thugs, bribe officials and buy votes at the elections in order to make sure of “victory.” By using our votes responsibility, the children of Ghana would not have to pay the price of our rulers’ greed and our uncritical electoral choice. In December, millions of ordinary Ghanaians would head towards the polls with no idea what they are voting for or what the responsibilities of the parliamentarians they are so eager to vote are. Sadly, some of these same people are willing to fight and kill each other over whether Atta Mills or Akufo Addo is better positioned to manage Ghana for the next four years.

Our media instead of devoting themselves to enlightening the masses and educating them on their civic responsibilities, have rather become contented with stirring up excitement. Ignorance is always correctable and therein lies hope. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge, and this knowledge, consequently, becomes the fashion of the day? Is our collective ignorance dearer to us than the happiness, development and peacefulness of our Motherland? All these are unnecessary because we have means to overcome these social ills. What we must desire is a nation populated by men and women with sympathy and unity to share and create a society driven by a moral spirit of simplicity that seeks to be fair to all by implementing just and effective policies.

I am not appealing to politicians. I want to believe that these seemingly powerful men and women are not that powerful after all. Perhaps, public opinion and action can still sway them to do the right things. I’m appealing to every Ghanaian citizen out there. We do not have to immediately eliminate extreme poverty, injustice, or bring about a crime-free environment. All I’m asking for is that each does whatever works with his or his modest resources to make a difference in whichever situation he or she find him or herself. We don’t have to result to politics to practice justice, fairness or to carry out civic duties. We are all responsible as individuals. In fifteen to twenty years, some of our current politicians might not be here anymore. It follows that they may not have compelling incentives to give weight to the interest of the poor masses compared to the vanity of the few rich. It’s up to us, the youth, to redeem Ghana if we don’t want to inherit a rotten nation in the future.

To improve the condition of our land, let us get away from vague and idle visionaries; let us leave behind our senseless political debates as to which party is the better; let’s get to work right now on what needs our attention; and there’s a lot to be done. When Ghana goes to the Polls in 2012, every voter must know that he or she alone does not suffer the consequences of his or her vote. Paradoxically, the registered voters do not make up the majority of Ghanaian citizens. It is, therefore, unfair for the minority to be unaware that each vote touches and affects everyone in and outside Ghana- particularly the millions of children under eighteen. We must learn to use our privilege of voting wisely by considering the impact of our decisions on the well-being of the GENERATIONS to follow ours. Ghana must be put ahead of partisan interests.

By: Dominic Mensah, Berlin, Germany.

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