GHANAIANS ARE a proud people. Pride, which emanates from our political past, as the first nation south of the Sahara to have attained independence from our colonial masters. Indeed, we pride ourselves in so many endeavours of global achievements. The most recent is the achievement of Kofi Annan, whose service to the world made every Ghanaian so proud. There are indeed so many other Ghanaians whose contributions in arts, sports, politics and the sciences, make all of us very proud to have come from this small country called Ghana.
As a result of these achievements by a few noble and committed Ghanaians, all of us raise our shoulders high and push our chests out whenever we meet our counterparts or for that matter, any group of people anywhere in the world. At conferences, in educational institutions or any other competitions, the achievements of our predecessors become the yardstick by which we are measured.
As good and encouraging as the past achievements of our forebears are, we seem to be basking so much in their past glory that we forget that there is a future ahead of us. It is very common to hear, “the first black African nation to free itself from colonial rule”, and previously, “the only African country to have won the African Cup of Nations for the fourth time”, it goes on and on and on. While we idle around and relish in our past, others who hitherto had no internationally acclaimed achievements to their credits, push on slowly but surely, into the club of modern day achievers, overtaking us.
One of the greatest challenges that confront us as a nation is the fact that our social and economic tastes have far outstripped our economic outputs. The average Ghanaian is moving with the times, with regards to scientific and technological outputs and consumption. The big question is what has been our original contribution to the expanded everyday consumption that science and technology has brought to our generation? Move around any University campus in the United Kingdom, U.S.A and Germany or better still, any of the Asian Tigers, and find out how many of their students hold more than one mobile phone.
Quickly move to University campuses and other tertiary institutions in Ghana and casually observe the number of students who hold more than one mobile phone. Indeed in many instances, the number of mobile phones per student is equivalent to the number of mobile phone networks operating in the country at any given time. Those same students complain of their inability to pay school fees. And this is a country that does not produce even sim cards. We live beyond our means.
People in authority, particularly our political leaders (I am not among ooo), confuse and contradict themselves on this very crucial issue of productivity, which is the basis of growth for any nation. At some points in time, one would hear some politician praising workers for their hard work; at another time, that same person would be chastising workers for not doing enough in their work places.
The truth of the matter is we are not working hard enough as a people. Over the years, there has been a growing phenomenon which is counterproductive in our quest to nurture our economy. When I was growing up, many white coloured employees in this country spent their weekends engaged in real farming or backyard farming to support their income. These days, we spend all our weekends at funerals, weddings, engagements and refreshments.
Technically, the weekend which is supposed to be a resting period for workers in the formal sector, becomes a ‘working period’ which make us more exhausted than the actual working week. This is not to suggest that funerals should not be held and attended, that engagements and weddings of friends and relations should be ignored. It seems that many of us put a lot of energy and resources into some of the above activities than we put in productive work at our places of work. Some weddings, for example, can take all day. From homes to the churches and to the refreshments, which nobody would want to miss. It may take the whole day but we wait patiently till the end. Do we put in the same time, patience and energy into our official work?
Many of us spend more money from Friday evenings through Sunday evenings, than we spend from Mondays to Fridays. We come back to the office on Mondays totally broke and exhausted. Productivity on Mondays in many organizations is far below expectation. In fact, in some Civil and Public Service institutions, workers add Mondays to their weekends. That is the day they rest. Those who do make it to their offices, spend a lot of time discussing the weddings, engagements or funerals they attended over the weekend and the dryness or richness of the event. The quantity of alcohol that was available for quaffing, the quantum of ‘Muntaka’ that was munched and in the case of the men, the new catches they made.
When the men make new catches, the women also offer themselves to be caught any way. After all, who said change is not good? It offers you the opportunity to see those men who can travel long distances and those who do short ones. When a lady grabs a man at any of the functions above (or the man grabs her, not illegal oo), and the man happens to be someone who travels reasonably long distances like Suhum-Nsawam, Suhum-Nsawam, as against her boring Circle-Kanesshhhh, Abaka-Lapaaaz partner. That change she experienced over the weekend will be the subject of discussion with her co-workers the whole Monday.
Aside from the discussions among her co-workers, there will be a series of telephone calls to this new man who plies the Suhum-Nsawam route and has exposed her beyond Circle-Kanesshhhh. In this case, if the lady has access to a phone belonging to her employers, I bet you, nobody should attempt calling that line. Sometimes the same happens on the opposite side of the divide. But if the change becomes negative, that is, if the Circle-Kanesshhh is reduced to Circle-Adabraka, like the change we are going through, the woes of that lady are increased. In a somber mood, she would quietly be singing Nana Kwame Ampadu’s song ‘ao me nkoa dea na aden nkoaa’. Meaning her circumstances did not change, even with the new catch. If anything at all, she is worse off.
In this scientific age, some of our compatriots believe that the only way their economic situation can change is through prayers. Indeed many believe that the poor state they find themselves in is the work of the devil. Productive work hours are then spent in prayer camps. In the evenings when we, workers, are supposed to rest and get invigorated for the next day’s work, we attend ‘all night’. We come back to our offices the following day so tired and weak. Productivity suffers. Can you blame them? After all, the President of the Republic says he wishes he could turn the whole nation into one single prayer camp. We pray and there is pre-mix oil, we pray and there is food. It does not happen anywhere in the world.
Prayers, in themselves, do not improve the economic circumstances of a nation; it is hard work, planning, sacrifices and discipline that develop a nation. Let us change our attitude towards work wherever we find ourselves.