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The Wasted Opportunities On Ghanaweb   
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When I was younger, I dreamed of what I would like to do with my life. I wanted to write like no other: poetry, plays, short stories, articles…..I aimed to become a teacher of the English language and Philosophy in order to orient the thinking of my people.

I also wanted to become a lawyer in defense of the poor and the weak; so in essence; I had my vision clearly cut out for me by age twelve. Looking back, I have no doubt in my mind that I have or will achieve every one of my goals in life.

But as accurate as my sense of the future proved to be, I had no clue about the extent and the nature of the bountiful opportunities with which our generation will be blessed. At the same time, I could never imagine how wasteful of these blessings we will turn out to be. But disillusionment does not make me bitter or disappointed; rather, it defines the depth of my role in my society and makes me wiser and more mature. When in Class Six, I read about a fictional character who possessed a mirror in which one could look and see every corner of the world. In adulthood, bingo!

There is the internet, a universal mirror in which one could look and see every corner of the world! And to crown it all, there is ghanaweb, where all Ghanaians could meet and share ideas… and allow the world to gaze deeply into the character of the Ghanaian people. Taking advantage of the breadth and scope of the internet, Akoto, a true son of Ghana has created a powerful forum for the core Ghanaian middle class to network and share ideas. But beyond his innovation, I give him a status of a god for his exceptional intelligence which may be misconstrued as sheer cynicism: he created the web as a great opportunity for all Ghanaians and sat back to watch us figure out what to do with it. And when I look back on what we have done with the unprecedented opportunity that Akoto has provided our generation, my awe for the ingenuity of the man multiplies. We have used the web as a forum to promote division, to craft quintessential insults, to expose the worthlessness of our educational attainments, to proclaim the futility of our nationhood and to assert the contradictions of our thought processes.

The most obvious use to which we have put the rare opportunity provided by Akoto is to use ghanaweb as a launching pad for our ethnocentric missiles. Some people have come to believe that the most important function of the site ought to be purely the last battleground of the Armageddon: of the tribal feud in which all true members of each tribe must take a last stand. To these people, the greatest treachery to the tribe is to sing praises to the other side. For example, it has come to be perceived that the true Asante is the one that hates everything Ewe, and the true Ewe is the one that spews the most strident insults on Asantes.

Somebody stated it cogently when he wrote here on ghanweb, “You have to take a clear position in the tribal feud or else you are not significant. Either you are for us or against us. The battle lines are drawn in concrete, and there is nothing anybody can do about it. If you cannot take the heat, you may get lost.” How did we get to this pass? I thought throughout my early life that we were one united country! In fact when we were in school, nobody made even a tangential reference to any tribe. At Koforidua Sectech, the tribes were truly mixed. No matter how angry anybody made us, we never referred to his tribe. We were one big Ghanaian family! Both at the University of Ghana and University of Cape Coast, each one of my room-mates was an Ewe and yet there was not a single day of conflict or any insinuations about tribe.

Thus I grew up totally oblivious of any tribal feud within the Ghanaian body politic until I encountered ghanaweb in 2006, and I was shocked! The density of the tribal hatred was extremely troubling, and the basis for it was grossly vacuous. The most ardent Asante hater can never come out to say that an Ewe did this or that against him or her. The same applies to the most ardent Ewe hater of an Asante. Therefore every quantum of sheer hatred has been defined in terms of hearsay without exception. People have made references to Awoonor’s statement against Akan hegemony and Victor Owusu and Adu Boahen’s ignorant description of the Ewe consciousness. Granted that these comments were made; do they justify the collective hatred for whole tribes?

After all, the most intelligent person in our midst will write, speak and think like a twerp at some point in time. That is the basis of the fallibility of the human person, that we relapse into sheer ignorance at some moments in our lives. The redemptive phenomenon however, is that we are not ossified in our errors: we are not doomed to remain the same in our most ignorant beliefs. It is thus possible that those renegade scholars that made these stupid comments later repented and saw the light. They may have uttered crass nonsense in the heat of passion……. But even if we assume that they were forever stuck in their tribal prejudice, does it follow that we must emulate them in their wayward thoughts? If the forbears set a bad example, must it serve as a basis for reciprocally evil conduct by the descendants? Our excuses for tribal bigotry merely affirms the notion that anybody looking for a reason to do the wrong thing will always find plenty.

Thus it is a fact that those seeking justification for their tribal bigotry would have found one without the Awoonors, Victor Owusus or Adu Boahens. Indeed, if there were nobody initiating the tribal insults, bigots would still have found excuses to ply their trade! They would have looked at the lousy weather and said “The Asantes done it!” or “The Ewes made it!” Unfortunately, we remain one united country for the wastefulness of the opportunities granted us to communicate and interact on ghanaweb! We are united when it comes to lisping litanies about the injustices of the Whiteman, how he has enslaved our people, squandered our resources and destroyed our unity. We are also united in the density of our crass superstition and empty religion (A majority of our people still believe in witches, or the fable that you can kill someone for juju money, or that you can bribe a god with your tithes and get a free pass to prosperity and heaven). We are also united in the blind worship of politicians masquerading as human idols against whom nothing bad can be thought or said.

We go to church every Sunday as an exercise in lobotomy, eschewing every one of our sacred responsibilities in the name of a Christ who washes all the sins we have committed and will definitely commit again forever and ever. We are also united in the dissipation of our educational achievements; in the narrow belief that education is purely about the bombastic narrative and linguistic showmanship; about posing as panjandrums in the exercise of academic oppression; about the skill and scheme of who best writes or corrects a foreign language to put the other writer down. We are united in the negative twists we put on noble intentions and the assault on personal integrity. We are united in the atrophy of our thinking, the characterization of our siblings as the alien other: ugly, smelly, full of poverty, full of corruption or full of evil rituals. When it comes to the destruction of the elements of our nationhood, we are ironically united on ghanaweb.

By creating ghanaweb, Akoto has done his part to facilitate dialogue and unity among Ghanaians. This opportunity is golden insofar as it never existed in our country at any time in her history. Through this unprecedented website, we were to bring forth the best in our character: the wisdom of the typical Ghanaian, the decency in our cultural aspirations and the incisiveness of our scholastic thinking. Instead, we have unleashed a cesspool of tainted verbiage. We have become notorious and united in the destructive conduct that will tear our nation apart, revealing our dark side to outsiders to an extent hitherto unimaginable..

To me, this knowledge hurts but it is a way out of innocence, a path to maturity and reality. My present disillusionment does not make me bitter or disappointed; rather, it makes me wiser and more mature. In this respect, I thank God that he did not let me die in ignorance of the Ghanaian nature, or of delusion about its value. I thank God also for my life as a teacher, a lawyer, a writer and a thinker because as I see it, all these gifts and talents will be important in the new quest to recapture the true Ghanaian consciousness.

Source: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo

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