Each night when l go to sleep, l dream of a Ghana where life is not as difficult as it is for majority of the people. This is not something that cannot be achieved because others have proved that creating conducive conditions for all is a possibility. In those societies, where the common people have been taken care of, the adage, “from the cradle to the grave,” is used to describe the social system that enables the poor to be given the assistance they require to live decent lives from their childhood till they die.
This social system has been made possible by leaders who care. In our case, nothing seems to be working and it is beginning to look like we do not have leaders. There is a Mozambican proverb that says, “a community without elders does not prosper.” This means that, it is only real leaders who can help a community or a country to move on. The fact is, it is those who lead us who provide the thinking to generate ideas that would help move the people out of misery.
For more than six decades now, we have had leaders in Ghana, but nothing seems to be happening and one wonders why. We have sung “We no go sit down” but that did not help. Our politicians continue to tell us stories of things they have achieved even though we do not see these achievements. Achievements must be seen and felt by the masses. They must not be told!
For the most part, those we have had as leaders, are people who only seek leadership positions to improve their lives. A Ugandan proverb frowns on this and says, “do not be a leader and use it to your own advantage.” We have seen people in this country whose only contribution as leaders has been to build mansions while the under-dogs continue to live in the ghettoes.
When the politicians want our mandate, they make promises that they know deep in their hearts they would never be able to fulfil. Some of them do not have a clue about what the ordinary Ghanaian wants.
The people, and l mean the down trodden, do not want to live at Trassaco Valley. All they want are just some well-built areas that would befit a human being. They do not want the top of the range cars; they just want an improved mass transport system. They do not want their children to go to top schools. No, they want schools where the teachers would teach well and provide a fair playing field when it comes to taking examinations. These are not big things to ask for.
These basic things are not difficult to provide. It is for this reason that some of us live in the kind of Ghana we want, only in our dreams. I want to see a Ghana where the Sakumono flats are not the preserve of middle level workers alone. In fact, it is an insult to the people of this country that middle level and managerial staff have to struggle to get these flats that are taken for granted in other parts of the world.
I dream of a Ghana where, after their first ante-natal visit, the clinic follows pregnant women with constant reminders and the necessary health checks for mother and baby. This is because records are well kept and health staff live by their professional oath. After child-birth, the woman and the child would be properly taken care of. It should be possible that the child’s first dental care would be arranged by the clinic.
By the time the child is three years, her registration for nursery would be a matter of course, because the district education office would have information on him or her. By five, the child’s basic education should be catered for in the neighbourhood, at a school which is well staffed by teachers who would give him or her lessons that would help to develop the child. Not long ago, in this country, teachers in village public primary and middle schools taught children who passed the Common Entrance Examination and gained admission into top schools. Not anymore, because our leaders have not helped in building the country.
I want to see a situation where by the time a child gets to the age to enter secondary school, it would no longer be a burden for the parent. I do admit that in every society, we would always have the rich and the poor. However we must create a situation where the children from under privileged backgrounds are not discriminated against. The teachers should be motivated to teach well, so that every child sits the BECE, but not from a disadvantaged point.
For poor children who are able to make the grades, we should have a situation where they can move on to the prestigious schools. This way, it would be known that we have a system that gives equal opportunity to everyone based on one’s ability and not where one comes from. These are not dreams because others have achieved them. We can learn so many lessons from other countries which have been able to create a situation where children go to school free, travel free on buses and those whose parents cannot afford it, are given free lunches. This is how we can make every child who aspires to climb the ladder do so.
If we continue with the status quo, the country will breed a large mass of poor children who would grow to become poor and the vicious cycle would continue. We have a choice to move away from the way we have lived and it would be good if our leaders would have a change of heart and think more of the ordinary people in whatever policy they implement. Leaders should not be seen to be creating opportunities just for those who are privileged. Let us know that the poor people too matter.
The Ghana l dream of should not just remain in my sleep. I want the politicians to make it real, so that when l wake up from my sleep and walk around, l can see a Ghana worth living in and dying for. This dream that l have carried with me all these years is one that should work for all of us so that, the ordinary people will not care what the politicians take home because they know that their accommodation will be provided, their children will get schools to attend and the provision of health and other social amenities will not be promises made, never to be fulfilled.
One way of making this dream work in our country is to get our political class to sit down to think and come out with practical programmes that can provide social safety nets. What we have now are adhoc programmes with hardly any long term plans to sustain them. We do not have any solid plan to sustain the Free Senior High School. The National Health Insurance Scheme is in a crisis and LEAP programme is not one that is capable of being sustained or expanded. That is why we need to wake up to find out how to make these programmes work.
Those who made their dream programmes work elsewhere did not just sit down. They worked and proved that with effective thinking and planning, they could change things for the better and it created hope among the people. The Kanuri people in Nigeria have summed this up perfectly, in the adage “the pillar of the world is hope.”
…with Francis Kokutse