From Independence … To Freedom Or Slavery

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Ghana Flag
Courtesy of pexel copyright free photos.

On the 6th of March 1957 when we gained our independence, we believed that we had won everlasting freedom from foreign oppressors. Consequently, we threw out the British flag of oppression, hoisted the Ghana flag and joyfully proclaimed that “our beloved country was now free forever”. 

For you see, under colonialism, we the colonized were an enslaved people. Nothing in our own country belonged to us. The land with everything that is in it (gold, diamonds, silver, iron etc) belonged to the colonizer. The land with its rivers, lakes, mountains and everything on it, whether fixed (timber, farms, crops, fruits trees), or mobile (livestock, poultry, wild animals) belonged to the colonizer.  All our daily activities were sanctioned by the colonizer.  In all aspects of social life, the colonized individual with or without education, was placed way below the level of the least educated, least paid European civil servant. 

And whether we understood it or not, as a colonized people, our population was ultimately programmed to be wiped out and replaced by that of the colonizer. This had happened in many colonized countries. This was what colonialism meant. 

INDEPENDENCE WAS THUS A BIG DEAL

At last, we could expect to live freely on our own terms. We could expect to take charge of our own destiny.  We could expect to live, eat, drink and dance our way. We could shirk colonial shackles and cultures forced on us. With independence, we could reclaim our dignity and respect as human beings. And we could also tell our untold stories of suffering during the 500 years of enslavement and colonialism. 

In short, there was good reason for rejoicing and the hoisting of our national flag.

And, yes, of course, many of these things we sought to do. We developed short, medium and long term development plans for our nation. We built school, colleges, universities, and offered free education to our children. We even started mass education classes for the elderly. We built hospitals and offered free medical services to our people. We produced our own electricity, purified our water and distributed them to our citizens for little to no charge. 

Within a short time, we built 350 factories on our own and managed them. We operated mines, refined and transformed gold, silver and diamonds from our fully owned Ghanaian mines. We bought commercial airplanes and our Ghanaian pilots flew them across the world. We set out to prove to the world that the black man was capable of managing his own affairs. And as we owed money to no one, we started earning respect from our peers the world over.

WE LOST TRACK SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LINE..

However, somewhere along the line, we made a u-turn. We lost track. Or did we? 

For today, 67 years later, our country is so indebted financially that our creditors have imposed a white man to sit in our Bank of Ghana headquarters to oversee our finances. 

Today, 67 years later, based on pressure from the white man, we have sold 300 out of our 350 fully owned industries to foreigners, and sidelined fellow Ghanaians who could have bought them and ran them profitably. Worse of all, we have no money or anything significant to show from the divestiture. 

Today, in the era of the fifth industrial revolution in technology, our telecommunications companies are all in the hands of foreign companies.

Today, again, based on foreign advice, our electricity supply is largely in the hands of foreign energy producers who threaten us with dumsor if we dare fail to pay our bills.

Today, we have bankrupted our 100% Ghanaian owned Ghana National Trading Company (GNTC), and rescinded favourable laws that put the Ghanaian in the front seat of our lucrative retail trade. And, in this way, we have enabled foreign companies to dominate the retail landscape and relegate the Ghanaian to insignificant retail roles.

Today, our richest gold mines are 100% foreign owned with Ghana having no shares in any of them, except in one of them for which our government has a paltry 10% share. 

Today, private foreign gold mining companies surreptitiously endeavour to control our security forces with gifts of computers, police stations and military structures. And the reason is not philanthropic, but to use OUR own security forces to protect THEIR private, foreign owned profitable investments and solidify their hold on our natural resources with the help of our naive governments. And paradoxically, it is the Ghanaian citizen who clothes, feeds and pays the monthly salaries of these Ghanaian security forces. 

And as if in response to this sell-out to the foreigner, the long-suffering, cheated, deprived citizen, feeling discriminated against in his own country, has resorted to ‘galamsey’ with its attendant ill-effects on our rivers, lakes and society. 

With unparalleled zeal, some traditional chiefs also allegedly sell farmlands to foreigners to build houses without consulting the local people, thus depriving our farmers’ access to farmlands on which they have farmed for hundreds of years. 

Farmers in Asebu who say their family farming land was taken from them by the paramount chief, and made a part of Pan-African Village. Courtesy of Jude Lartey for NPR

 

This is not all.

Today, our government, allegedly for personal, selfish reasons, over borrow from international corporations. Then without any iota of shame, it turns round to rob our elderly citizens of their life savings and investments to help repay or meet the unwholesome terms imposed by these foreign creditors. 

Today, the voice of the people crying for freedom goes unheeded. We have no development plans. Our political leaders steal from national coffers with impunity and devise strategies to sell national assets to foreigners in order to enrich themselves. And as happened with Tata brewery, political leaders have even forcibly taken Ghanaian owned businesses and given them to foreign companies without any compensation to the Ghanaian citizen. 

And with incredible naivety and helplessness, we, the citizenry, rotate the same corrupt political leaders every 4 or 8 years and pray to God in vain, that this time, these greedy politicians will steal less and cheat us less than the last time they were in charge. 

And each year, as we continue to lose control of our economy and natural resources, we slide further and further down the road to economic imprisonment and enslavement.  

IS THIS THE INDEPENDENCE FOR WHICH OUR FATHERS FOUGHT?

The question is whether this is the independence for which our fathers fought.

Absolutely not!

We should immediately go back to the ideals and dreams of our fathers who fought and died for our independence. For a start, we should put our people and our nation first. We should deem our independence meaningless unless it is linked to sustained, significant economic and social improvements in the life of every Ghanaian. 

As a matter of urgency, we should institute short, medium and long term development plans for this nation. Our own citizens should mine, process, transform and market our lithium, gold, diamonds, iron, bauxite and manganese etc., for the benefit of our country. Our citizens, Engineers, Scientists and Technicians should be empowered to build our machines and industries. Our business corporations’ managers, civil service personnel and political leaders should be chosen based on merit, honesty and patriotism. The commanding heights of our economy should be firmly held in the grasp of the Ghanaian.  Our national policies should be dictated by patriotic Ghanaians, for the paramount interest and well being of our people. 

For, anything short of this will continue to propel us down the fatal road of economic imprisonment and enslavement. 

 

The author, Dr. Kofi Oteng-Gyang, Scientist, University lecturer, Eye Doctor and Author is the Executive Secretary of the Noho Tindo Foundation, a benevolent, philanthropic organization devoted to helping street children and the underprivileged. He can be reached at mlbkg2000@gmail.com

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