Let Us Stop These ‘Jokes’

If Ghanaian politicians from the two dominant parties care to research, they would find out that there are many Ghanaians who have become cynical and therefore do not see any future for the country. For these people, the country has reached a point where nothing can be done to revive it from a slow but painful death.

These sceptics must not be blamed because the politicians have by their deeds shown that, whatever is happening in Ghana fits the Lithuanian proverb that, “as one devil goes out, another one comes in.” This should not be the case.

Unfortunately, the utterances by some politicians give no hope. Given what l see around the country, we may soon become a laughing stock among the comity of nations. And this bleeds my heart.


For this reason, sometimes l just want to weep, and weep real tears for Ghana because of the way the country has been turned into an entity that could be laughed at.  With the mention of the name Ghana, I recall once again a joke by one of Nigeria’s veteran journalists; He said, there was a competition to make a caged monkey laugh and many people participated but, the monkey could not be moved.


Then one man from the crowd whispered something to the monkey and it let out a raucous laughter which was at the same time very hilarious. When the man was asked what he had told the monkey, he replied, “I just told him where l worked, and that is the Nigerian Railways.”


Those who were present could not help laughing themselves because the Nigerian Railways at the time had nothing to offer, it had been run-down by its managers and salaries had not been paid for months. As a result, most of the staff of the institution became people who were ridiculed by their friends and families. Those whose wives could not cope left them.  It looks like Ghana is on the verge of this because of how politics is gradually destroying our institutions and what we stand for as a people.


We have joked with so many things for so long that, sometimes, politicians in this country remind me of what used to happen on the playground when l was growing up – Yesterday, you kicked me so, today, l must also give you a retaliatory kick. You insulted my father yesterday, so, it is my turn to insult your father today. If children do this, one will understand, but for people who have been given the opportunity to manage our lives, such “playground banters” as reasons why things cannot be done differently, is indeed a sad reflection of how low we have reduced politics to, as a country.


Honestly, if one political party could not achieve what it set out to, this is the real reason why the party that has succeeded it, must be able to show that it has what it takes to make a difference. Unfortunately, what we hear from some of our politicians is, “your party couldn’t do anything so, why do you want to complain.”


What this means is that we don’t seem to have any standards. Therefore trying to hold people to account is seen as unnecessary. If party ‘A’ failed to provide seeds to farmers, does it not mean that they have every right to question party B for not been able to do so?

Is it because we have no idea what political power means? For some people, political power is all about what they can misappropriate to improve their lifestyles.  And this has been reflected in a lot of ways in this dear country of ours. Immediately a new party takes over power, what you see is who takes over which office and who wins the lucrative contracts. If politics is all about who takes the best part of the national cake, then what happens to the ordinary people and those who have no way of getting close to the corridors of power?


It happened under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as we saw people who were perceived to be supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) being removed from their positions. Now that the NPP is in power, perceived supporters of the NDC are being replaced by activists of the NPP. The question is, should political power be used to promote friends and families alone? Is this not the reason why we have square pegs in round holes?


The important question to ask is whether, the political parties have the country at heart with the way they are playing musical chairs with those who run the state institutions. The Cambodians have a proverb, “you don’t have to cut the tree to get at the fruit.”  If it is the fruit we all we want, what is the point in destroying the tree? Perhaps, the politicians do not know that by their actions, they are simply destroying the trees that have kept the country going.


They must therefore know that if by their actions, they are seen to be destroying the trees, they must know that one day soon, there would be no tree to provide shade for  us. There may be those politicians who may think that they have stored wealth outside the country so, they do not care. Or, they have provided for their future and so, they do not care what happens to the rest of us. They must know that there is always a day of reckoning.


Due to the way politicians have taken over the running of the public services, we no longer see any advert calling for applications from candidates to be appointed as chief executives and deputies. Even in the rare instances that these positions are advertised, one can be sure that it is only a formality and the powers-that-be, already know whom they have already pencilled for the position.  Could this be the reason why most young people no longer want to work after graduation but join political parties and make noise so that once their parties get into power, they are assured of some top jobs? Isn’t that the reason why state-owned enterprises have become pale shadows of what they used to be because those running them have nothing to offer and are just warming the chairs in these offices?


Is this not the reason why corruption has gone up because all the people warming the chairs know that they will be changed in, may be, four years or eight years at most? For this reason, those in positions do not think about how and what to do with the organisations they run but simply, what they can get for themselves.


In addition, the way politics has turned this country upside down is one reason most people do not put in much at their various places of work. The truth is, whereas in the past people entered jobs hoping to work hard and be recognised for promotion, bid their time and get the experience necessary to take them to the top, these days, those who fall in this category are overlooked. Therefore, many have become apathetic. Is this the way we want our country to grow?


In truth, if jokes were all that was needed to build Ghana, l am sure that we would have achieved so much by now. Unfortunately, that is not how other countries improved their economies. For this reason, it is important that we become serious and change the way we have done things over the past few decades. God cannot come down to help us if we do not help ourselves.


…with Francis Kokutse

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