On this occasion of the celebration of the African Union Day, I’m asking them where is the union? There is more trade between Africa and Europe than among African countries. Movement is also restricted with bureaucratic immigration procedures because African Leaders don’t trust each other. So where the hell is the union they are talking about?
Today my country is celebrating its “independence” day with the usual symbolism, diversion and pomp by the leadership. Meanwhile, hungry children will be marching in the sun together with horses. Many will faint. Others will be swearing oaths. At first I wondered why the quaker or bobs red mill will not be fed to the children. Then they said no, they will be: SWEARING OATHS, AS IN MAKING DECLARATIONS. Oh I get it now. I swear some of these children will be marching on an empty stomach today. UNICEF please intervene.
Speaking of “independence”, is Ghana truly independent? If yes, in what regard? If no why?
Is Africa itself free considering that African economies are fully controlled by the Pound or the Dollar or the Euro? What is Africa’s USP in the global market? Do we have bargaining power?
Are we aware at all of our own realities?
With president Donald Trump reportedly cutting funds to the arts and humanities, I wonder what consequences it will have on the development of a national culture for a country as diverse and racially heterogenous as the United States. Without education in the arts and the humanities civil unrests will be more frequent because people wouldn’t know or understand how to live with one another and even with the state. All knowledge of the arts and the humanities helps us to know who we are, why we are the way we are and what we ought to do to improve ourselves, our communities and the larger society. Law, Politics and Business are all traditionally categorized as arts and humanities.
In the past half century or so there has been intense focus globally on science education, which is good but not good enough to create a more humane civilization and make humans a better and conscientious people. Science has given us many beautiful inventions but their purpose will depend on the purpose we as humans envision for those inventions. What good is a powerful weapon, machinery, tool, vaccine etc if one is not trained to use it humanely.
Science has told us in clear terms that it cannot help us as far as the purpose or meaning of life is concerned. We can only turn to the arts and the humanities for truly meaningful answers. There are tens of thousands of literary and cultural organisations across the U.S. often offering voices to the voiceless and the under-represented. This no doubt is important in uniting such a racially divided country. If funding to the arts and humanities is cut, the government is simply postponing a problem not solving it. Unless peace, coexistence, civil rights, and national unity is not a priority for the government at the moment. As someone who is passionate about literature and the arts, I can only ponder the consequences if literature and art is further underpromoted.
It is a fact that different societies have different morals and value systems. This argument is further advanced by most amoralists and serves as a basis for a rejection of universal moral values. But even when we look at the great diversity in human nature, societies and their values and norms, it is by all means that whatever one does, one will be repaid in full. This is what justifies vengeance even if it is done in the name of one god or another god. The desire for justice is innate in every human. Morality itself is not based on reason, it has its basis in instinct. So a rational discussion on morality is futile – one would just be moving in circles. However, one thing that runs through all moral laws irrespective of geographic location, social group, race or nation is that there is reciprocity. There is something akin to a reward or payback (though sometimes difficult to perceive) based on an act that was perpetuated or neglected thereof. This reciprocity is not peculiar to only relationships within social groups, it is the fabric of all individual human interactions. Others call it karma. The problem however is that sometimes this reciprocal relationships are also subject to subjective interpretations and people with similar perspectives randomly self organize and create a morality of their own. They may even seek to punish someone who may have done something right for the majority. In a society as dysfunctional as mine, based on random self organization, criminals or the most unscrupulous are sometimes selected as the decision makers and adjudicators. When it happens that way the righteous is punished and everyone turns evil. There is reciprocity in there. Society has to be better than individuals so it is very important that people aspiring to leadership positions have high ethical principles and are people of highest moral standards. This ensures that the right values are emulated and promoted in the system. Sadly, as the reader may be aware this is often not so. We elect leaders based on their wealth and connections, then we turn around and complain when they attack us.
See how they struggle with each other like crabs as to who should sit on the throne. And often times the throne sits on filth and filth also sits on the throne. They have no shame. No one ponders what the problem is, let alone attempt a solution. Many things are wrong with the country, yet nothing meaningful and sustainable is done. It’s a harvest season again and see how they line up their bald heads and pot bellies vying for votes from the poor ignorant masses. But nothing is a secret now, every human, goat and chicken in this country knows that nothing will change as far as living conditions are concerned. Even doctors and nurses can’t get jobs these days. So what do they mean by creating a future for the youth? I don’t really get it. A future where? They speak of a future like fanciful children looking into the sky. So called left wing media agencies also do selective activism. Once they receive their little doughnut monies they suddenly go silent. The result of all this is a failed state.
To be perfectly sincere, any of those imbeciles could become king (for there is minimal difference in their intellectual capacities). Enthrone anyone and you will notice that he will instantaneously concern himself only with securing a place in the future world for his genes, for only his genes and perhaps few of his tribesmen. Equality is an illusion. If democracy is working for the developed world, it’s certainly not working for Africa. Democracy has fueled corruption, thuggery and political recklessness even further in Africa. When they speak of a future, what I would like to ask them is if what we see on the streets is the future they speak of, if so, then they must fantasizing with their goons.
Although this post is specifically about Ghana, most African nations share same problems associated with governance and economic development. The term elite capture simply describes a situation where resources designated for the benefit of the larger population are usurped by a few individuals of superior status –be it economic, political, educational, ethnic, or otherwise. Typically, individuals or groups take advantage of government programs aimed at distributing resources or funds to the general public by using their elite influence to direct such assistance in such a way that it primarily benefits the elite group. In some cases it benefits their own associates, family members or friends. Cleptocracy on the other hand, is a rule by thieves and Kakistocracy is a rule by the most unqualified or the morally corrupt in society.
Ghana is a country of make-believe. Even little kids acquire this instinct of crafting lies for no apparent reason. The entire society is organised around speculations, superstitions and farcical ideas. Facts and truths have no grip on the Ghanaian mind. The quickest and most effective way of influencing the Ghanaian is through music, the least effective is through the written word. Books influence only a thin stratum of intellectuals. The politicians know the people so well that during every election all the major political parties compose music that plays countless times on the airwaves. They know that the average man or woman on the street is not really interested in lengthy manifestos. Just give them music and entertainment. Added to this is the problem of ethnocentrism. You can visit a typical Ghanaian organisation and notice that almost everyone in a particular office, unit or department belong to one tribe. And when tribal affiliations set in there is absolutely no room for reason.
The most corrupt people in Ghana and Africa for that matter, also happen to be the elite class, most with doctorates. They form the core of the cleptocrats. Their luxurious lifestyles often cost the state more than necessary but nobody takes any action to stop this lunacy. Let me explain that a PhD in Ghana does not necessarily mean the holder has contributed anything to the field of knowledge. Here, a certificate simply designates a title. The worst mistake one can ever make as a subordinate is to try to report an allegedly corrupt official to one’s overall boss. One will be reporting to the ‘thief executive officer’ and thereby identifying oneself as a traitor in the organisation. This can cost you a promotion or salary increment etc considering that firing a public servant in Ghana is not a straight forward procedure. The thieves, supported by the ignorant masses, continue to rule in Africa.
According to Nietzsche there is no moral phenomena, only a moral interpretation of phenomena. This means the morality of an action or a deed is in the interpretation of that deed, making morality subjective. All things subjective are of, existing in or related to the mind. There is also the issue of motive which helps us to judge whether an act is moral or not.
For instance, we cannot say something is good or bad until we know the motive with which it’s done. If a politician builds a library or makes a cash donation to his community, we cannot say he is a good man until we know his motive, which is often definitely to seek another term of office, which means plowing his money back from state coffers or from bribes.
Kant, Locke, Hobbes and even Rousseau presented their ideas about morality as if it were a direct product of reason or rationality. They implied that primitive societies which had not ‘mastered’ reasoning had no sense of morality at all but this is erroneous. Kant in particular attributed virtue to individual freewill and autonomy but our modern experience presents a different evidence. It is indeed true that with personal freedom and autonomy comes reasoning but morality does not necessarily follow through. We pride ourselves today for being in the age of reason but our moral curve keeps plunging downwards. My observation is that virtue is an attribute of nothing but the emotions in their proper frameworks and that the source of both virtue and vice is in our primitive days. Reason only comes in after the stage is set.
All good or evil deeds proceed from the heart and reason, though resulting in self awareness and personal security, does not necessarily prevent evil. Most people who commit moral crimes are aware of the evil nature of their deeds but they do it anyway. Reason for the most part is self serving and often fails the motive check which I mentioned earlier. For instance, people who give a part of their salary to the homeless and beggars have no apparent reason or motive at all for doing that. They simply were moved by their emotions.
There is another interesting twist to morality – which makes it somewhat undulating in nature. Consider this: A murderer is an immoral person but one who murders the murderer for the safety of the community is deemed moral. It follows that the murderer’s murderer’s murderer is also deemed immoral and it goes on and on switching back and forth. We can think of it as an equation attempting psychological equilibrium, which is something inbuilt in us.
The biggest problem in morality so far is the influence of power or authority. Nietzsche goes on to say that whatever interpretations exist or persist is a function of authority and not truth. One will notice that Pilate’s question to the Jew: ‘What is truth?’ lends credence to this statement. To Pilate, truth is what the Roman empire says it is, so he wanted to know the deferring truth which the Jew was purported to have taught his disciples. In practical life, one will have noticed that the vast majority of people will readily accept truth only and if only it is backed by authority. Sometimes during a court trial, witnesses freeze or crumple in the witness box or fail to appear altogether because the truth which they witnessed will offend authority.
And now a question: Though they all claim to be doing it for peaceful purposes, do you think there is morality or moral truth or ethical merit in so called nuclear programmes? To what extent should a nation go in protecting itself or its interests?
Seeing that Africa was young and endowed with treasures,
There came many kings seeking to lure her and dominate her.
And Africa, much to their disappointment rejected all of them,
But the kings went and took counsel how they might put down Africa.
Behold, with deceitful pretenses, they seized Africa and raped her –
The king of the tribe of the British,
The king of the tribe the Dutch,
The king of the tribe of the Spanish,
The king of the tribe of the French,
And the king of the tribe of the Belgians –
Each king holding each limb, they took turns and raped Africa.
And in those days Africa was barely a teen.
She lay on the ground in pain and agony.
Her blood flowed through the gold mines of South Africa and the Gold Coast,
Through the diamond and copper mines of Sierra Leone and the Congo,
Through the rubber plantations of Liberia,
And finally through the uranium mines of the Niger.
Vagabonds, did Africa produce as offsprings.
And I saw an old queen wearing a gold crown stolen from none but Africa.
Suddenly there came a loud voice from Abyssinia saying:
‘We shall wipe her tears and we shall restore Africa to her people.’
And after the voice, I saw Africa anew, adorned as a bride
For her groom – for her people.
The old Africa is long gone – this is a new Africa!
And I saw her people embrace her – and there was no more war nor strife nor
Disease nor ignorance nor even revenge in her heart.
©2015. Tawia Tsekumah.
Beloved readers, I will briefly interrupt my holidaying. Over these few weeks, there has been heated arguments on local radio, over Ghana’s acceptance to host two Yemeni ex-Guantanamo bay detainees. They were said to have been held without trial for 12 years by the U.S. and now have been released and subsequently posted to Ghana for whatever goddamn reason I don’t know. Pastors, Evangelists and religious people in general, collectively calling themselves ‘The Christian Council’ have raised a serious opposition to it. Some have gone to the extent of filing a suit against the president, calling him an idiot.
Isn’t the job of the so called ‘Christian Council’ that of preparing people to go to heaven? How does that translate into international relations or politics. Many of this Hollywood-styled greedy bastards calling themselves preachers and whatnots are worse than ex convicts. In fact they are robbers. Many of them continue to live in multi-storey luxury apartments and ride in 4WD luxury cars while their poor congregants continue to attend church on foot or commute by some ‘boneshaker’ public bus. They are already in heaven and their congregants are in hell. I understand in Europe and America, religious influence is declining. Here, it is at its apex.
Their actions appear to have arisen from humanitarian concerns but it’s definitely a sham. Supposing these ex suspects were Christians, do you think they will be this aggressive in their opposition? Their actions no doubt have religious underpinnings. They are not just opposed to Ghana hosting ex suspects, they are opposed to Islam. And wherever there are strong religious sentiments, there is divisiveness. Which is why I think that religion should be completely separated from politics. But in Africa it will be difficult because the clergy enjoy many unjustified privileges and have special influence on national policies. Want to know why? Because during elections, they receive ‘donations’ and in turn do PR for their preferred candidates. Some even go as far as implying which politician the congregants should vote for.
There are also civil society players and activists who question Ghana’s sovereignty as a state, since we seem to be only joiners. We subscribe to any stupid treaty, accept any useless policy and have agreed to share in United State’s guilt for violating the fundamental human rights of the Yemeni suspects. The question I want to ask is this: ‘Is there a truly sovereign state in Sub Saharan Africa?’ Sadly, no! It appears each West African nation is still under the control of its former colonial master. Kwame Nkrumah called it Neocolonialism. When 90% of a country’s national developmental budget depends on foreign donors, then that country should know that it is trading its sovereignty for loans.