The ever-lingering question of ‘Who Is A Ghanaian’, which over the years has refused to go away, has come back to the fore in recent times, especially following the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s inaugural address at his swearing-in in January 2017.
Even before this, I have been agitated in my spirit for a while about the issue and have been exploring the several ways a person could be pronounced a ‘Ghanaian’ – by the passport he bears, or by birth, or naturalisation, or from parentage, by law according to the Constitution of the Fourth Republic, or additionally we could have a special yardstick by which we could make a determination.
It is even more intriguing that the issue of DUAL – CITIZENSHIP could also cause many to question themselves as to who really is a Ghanaian. The instances in our recent past that Members of Parliament, who have won elections could be expelled from the House on the issue of dual-citizenship and others threatened with jail sentences, make the issue’s determination more critical now than ever before.
I was one of the many or the very few, who felt proud by the admission of Hon. Boakye Agyarko, Minister of Energy that for the 25 years he was in the USA as a political refugee he never sought any other citizenship; but then again I couldn’t have expected anything less of him for good reason.
I personally hold the strong conviction that CITIZENSHIP is not a free lunch, as it goes with rights and responsibilities, on the both the state and the individual; and for as long as one is negligent on the responsibilities then one cannot claim the full benefits of the rights; and believing that the seven litmus tests for citizenship, in my opinion, should be: (i) loyalty, (ii) patriotism, (iii) nationalism, (iv) character, (v) identity, (vi) culture, and (vii) allegiance.
For the purposes of clarity of appreciation of what the seven (7) litmus tests are as expanded, they include: loyalty – is the state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations; faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, or cause; patriotism – is show and or commitment to devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country and or national loyalty; nationalism – is the spirit or aspirations common to the whole of a nation, devotion and loyalty to one’s own country; patriotism, the desire for national advancement or political independence, the policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one’s own nation viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations; and character – is the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person, moral or ethical quality, qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity, reputation, the account of the qualities or peculiarities of a person; any trait, function, structure, or substance resulting from the effect of one or more genes as modified by the environment.
The others are: identity – the state or fact of remaining the same one or ones, as under varying aspects or conditions, the condition of being oneself and not another, the state or fact of being the same one as described, the condition or character as to who a person is; the qualities, beliefs or faith that distinguish or identify a person; culture – the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits; that which is excellent in the arts and manners; a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period; the beliefs and behaviours characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group; the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another; and allegiance – the loyalty of a citizen to his or her government or of a subject to his or her sovereign; and the loyalty or devotion to some people, group, cause, or the like.
The rights of the people include the enabling environment the state has to provide for the citizenry; equal opportunities and access for all irrespective; equality before the law; level playing field for all; and no discrimination on basis of tribe, creed, ideology, identifiable political party or sex.
Thus, it is my belief every Ghanaian should be provided with the environment to secure for himself or herself a good education, profession, trade, calling and or vocation, possibly to the tertiary level but definitely for him or her, aspire to reach a level, at least equal to or an improvement on the levels reached by his or her father and or mother or the topmost levels of the generations before him or her.
That, this Ghanaian should never compromise on the acquisition of formal and or informal education at all levels but also not to be mechanical about studies – chew, pour and pass; but desire to be a critical thinker, diligent in questioning all the facts with their circumstances before venturing an opinion or decision.
And better still on education, this Ghanaian should always be more than inquisitive about everything to understand underlying principles, rational, values and to appreciate the whys, the what’s and the how’s; as well as recognising that all subjects have lessons to teach, principles and ethics to impart; and to appreciate for one’s latter life, including even history which is record of events. In fact, even the distorted history to undermine the truth is a lesson of life, especially to appreciate the dynamics of the society and factionalism.
That, this Ghanaian should accept that hardwork and honesty do not kill but are some of the core, one of the critical keys to success by any definition; recognising and appreciating that serving apprenticeship is essential to real success and appreciation of life. To my mind, apprenticeship should be a major consideration for all manner of persons desiring POLITICAL OFFICE, including aspiring ministers of state, members of parliament, MMDCEs, and heads of institutions that require changes every four years.
I am not in the least saying that anybody fresh from the university cannot aspire for any office of state: but let us face it politics of old was for people of matured disposition, and mostly retired or about retiring for good reason.
If you have worked for the number of years in question, your attitude to easily falling prey to corruption, entrapments of office as well as sensitivity to matters of the people, especially the voiceless and defenceless is different; even as you are more guarded in what you might think and say. Definitely, with apprenticeship, you dare not imagine or much more say that if you do not make one million dollars (US$1,000,000.00) or two within one year in office, you should be considered a failure.
Indeed, this Ghanaian should also endeavour to source for a MENTOR of unique character to assist him or her refine his or her every ambition, goal, vision and dream, including desiring a political office.
For me one cardinal quest for this Ghanaian ought to be questioning to appreciate why God gave him or her the particular parents who gave birth to him or her, to appreciate the siblings he or she has, understanding that they are to enhance each other’s strengths, skills and talents for the unique roles, individually they shall play for each other within the immediate and extended families; and even more why he or she came as a member of the descendants of the patriarch of the bigger family.
It is also imperative that this Ghanaian, whatever school he or she attends from the basic, through junior to senior high schools right to the tertiary, he or she will appreciate the values inherent in the traditions and heritage of each institution to have full benefits thereof for holistic mental, physical, spiritual development of the person, especially what drove the institutions’ founding fathers to set up the institution to appreciate what he or she takes from the institution in addition to the academic certificates.
And that, this Ghanaian cannot pretend to be insensitive to the conditions, politics and the ever-changing state of the different types of environments in which he or she finds himself or herself from the hamlet through the village to town and city to the national levels, especially as he or she relates to the people and their socio-political developmental needs.
In the days of old, a child did not belong exclusively to his or her parents but to the community; and why the people in the community could all contribute towards the education of that one child with the greatest ability and academic capacity to develop to his or her fullest potential, knowing he or she will always come back to give back to the community.
Sad that with all our advancement comes the selfishness of individual families that only their children should do well and come back to lord over the other children. Some advancement indeed!
Again, this type of Ghanaian shall not be over-opinionated but humble enough to appreciate that everybody has his or her own cross to carry, even if that cross is mentoring another to be much bigger than himself or herself to achieve a societal goal; recognizing and accepting the creed that serving APPRENTICESHIP in all fields of endeavour not only determines the legacies of the master but also how the apprentice-turned-master later shall endeavour to take unto himself or herself new and more apprentices to sustain the values and heritage of their calling or profession or trade or craft.
This new Ghanaian, no matter the calling should recognize that HUMILITY and TOLERANCE are the two greatest virtues that define a person’s real character; not the quest to be rich overtime, reaping where he or she has not sown and impoverishing in the people he or she has sworn an oath of office to protect and advance their cause rather.
It also means that this Ghanaian should not be full of all-self-righteousness, but be guarded in thought and speech, full of wisdom and slow to anger towards building a better future for all, including other people’s descendants and posterity; and he or she should appreciate that how prosperous he or she is, is really nothing unless it is for greater public good of all.
It is thus important in the context to understand and appreciate who really is a Ghanaian?
My interest isn’t in the legal definitions for that’s the cheapest qualification for any person to belong to any state or nation.
I have been intrigued for the last decade or more, especially when I tried my hand at the article: MFANTSIPIM IS A BRAND and then needed to look at the ethos; the brand attributes and then I began to question myself as to whether I am more Ghanaian than a foreigner who has spent his or her entire life in service to Ghana against a native whose only prerequisite is to steal from his or her people and thus contribute towards impoverishing him or her…..?
If I try to define a GHANAIAN AS A BRAND, I should be able to define the parameters of the attributes, the ethos which if one possesses should qualify him or her as a Ghanaian; and not a native in a privileged position of governance who compromises the state Ghana by selling state secrets to a foreigner for personal profits and then cleans his lips as well as pretend he is suffering like the rest of us.
For me, Ghana is at a crossroads of national identity crisis: our leaders pretend to lead us, fighting for our rights and benefits but knowing they are only watching each other’s back than us, whilst we also pretend to being lead and following. Mostly, we in fact do not qualify by deed and conduct to be diligent followers conscious of how we are led. The true lead-follower has responsibility as much as do the leader-followed.
Guess, that is why we get paid for exercising our civic rights during national elections for good reason; for we know and they also know that after elections we won’t see them again till the next elections – who then really is a Ghanaian?
If you ask me – frankly, I think we are all TENANTS in Ghana, including our chiefs or better still some chiefs. Trust me, some have mortgaged the futures of generations yet-unborn to servant-hood in their own father’s houses.
Admittedly, we are all tenants in our father’s houses, not caring what goes on now as strangers are now the owners of our inheritances. Otherwise, how on earth could any foreigner or stranger come onto our father’s house and land and take control to benefit exclusively; and worse have the people paid to protect us become rather their agents of subjugation over us? Thus, instead reverse the status with us to make us rather the ‘strangers’ in our own fathers’ houses?
Who really is a Ghanaian…?
IF we define who a Ghanaian is, then we would be better placed appreciate all possibilities, all hopes, all wishes, all imaginations, all visions, all prospects, all potentials, all futures, all promises and all expectations that lie before us as a people; and how these could be realized for any Ghanaian, given equal opportunities for education, training, vocation, apprenticeship, gifting, calling, hardwork, honesty, commitment, devotion, loyalty, dedication, perseverance, and ministry.
Wonder why we take some basic things for granted, such as WHY our Creator made us come to earth as sons and daughters of GHANA and that we are born as Ghanaians – so the issue of who a Ghanaian is isn’t a legal issue. Guess that is why when some of us are appointed into positions of trust and leadership, we are made to SWEAR OATHS OF ALLEGIANCES? Guess that is why in all jurisdictions, people of DUAL-NATIONALITY are trusted less and would not be allowed into certain positions as legislature and or executive arms of government.
NATIONALITY has been defined as membership of a particular nation or state, by origin, birth, naturalization, ownership, and allegiance or otherwise; whilst a National connotes ethnic and or cultural, character or identity.
Thus, being a Ghanaian reflects being one of a people sharing a common origin, culture and or language, and possibly constituting a nation-state.
In the global sense, nationality connotes a political existence, independence or unity as a national entity, requiring a high sense of patriotism.
It is imperative to state that in the context of membership of a nation or state, one would require a sense of affiliation, allegiance, ancestry, citizenship, descent, enfranchisement, ethnicity, national status, naturalization, origin, parentage, race, residence and status.
When one desires to consider a national character or identity, then we would be considering ancestry, colour, ethnicity, identity and origin; whilst for a people, we need to look at clan, confederation, cultural group, culture, denomination, ethnic group, ethnicity, faith, group, nation, people, persuasion, race, sect or tribe.
For a political existence as a national entity, we would need to look at autarchy, autonomy, freedom, independence, liberty, nationhood, self-determination, self-government, self-rule, separation and sovereignty; whilst for the idea of supporting one’s country, people or culture, we would consider patriotism or patriotic sentiment.
Within the myriad of all the definitions stated above, I repost my original question again: WHO IS A GHANAIAN?
What expectations, requirements, attributes, characteristics or ethos should be required of and or fulfilled by any person who styles himself or herself as a Ghanaian?
Once, we are clear in our minds as to the answers to the question and also understand the full import of why our Creator chooses to make us Ghanaians, not as our personal choices, then we will realize that being a Ghanaian is a divine assignment or calling for each person. Our ability to discover our individual divine assignment and or calling as a Ghanaian, would enable us to be better placed and prepared to fulfil our individual as well as collective Ghanaian dreams, quests and aspirations.
Ponder for a moment why you never were born an American, German, British, Ivorian, Liberian or of any other nationality than a Ghanaian: you have a divine assignment and calling for this nation: search for it, pray about it, find it and you will be amazed how much you will enjoy life here on earth.
*The writer is a sportbusiness consultant, land appraiser & economist and events architect & planner
By Magnus Rex Danquah