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“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that’s the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his figures, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire.

Let him not be too moved when birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much”

Alan Paton: Cry, the Beloved Country

“It was the custom that if you disliked a neighbour you gave your dog a name descriptive of him and his peculiarities and in that way you provided yourself with a constant outlet for expressing your petty hates, prejudices, even oaths against that person by means of the mute, if innocent, dog”

Lawrence Vambe

An ill – Fated People

SOME GHANAIANS ARE GROANING; some are moaning; some are complaining; some are lamenting; some are grieving; and some are whining. I used the word ‘some’ because it is not ‘every’ Ghanaian who is heaving.

Among those who are not grieving are, of course, the ‘greedy bastards’, the ‘babies with sharp teeth’ and their ilk and cohorts who are basking and wallowing in wealth, and are adamantine to the goings- on. But for those who are ordinary citizens like you and me who cannot cope with the present economic situation, whom the spate of high taxes has gripped, and left them with emaciated bodies, it is lamentable situation. The high costs of goods, coupled with an increase in transport fares have punched holes in people’s pockets. The few amenities that nurses and teachers were enjoying have been whittled away.

Mr John Dramani Mahama took time off his busy schedule and left with ‘She’ for the Middle East (or is Dubai in the Far East) to celebrate Christmas with his family. Given the pressure of work at home, he needed to take things cool in the land of the Sheiks.

Meanwhile, some persons had eaten the meat, and Ghanaians were left with the bones.

This was stated by the President himself who, however, did not disclose the eater or eaters of the meat. But even if the marrow in the bones had been left intact, some of us would have relished eating it, since doctors advise us that the two types of bone marrow, the medulla ossium rubra (red marrow) which consists of hematopoietic tissue and medulla ossium flava (yellow marrow) are nutritious.

It is unclear whether some of these complaints reach the President. Do not talk about seeking audience with him when even Alban Bagbin, of all people, could not have access to him. In the face of these deprivations and destitution, one remembers Jimmy Cliff’s song: Da- da –dai- dai, da – da – da – dai, da – da – da – dai, Sufferin’ in the land. It is plain to see we’re in a terrible situation, Sufferin’ in the land. And the children are crying for more education, Sufferin’ in the land. Let’s singin’ da – da – dai – dai…. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, Sufferin’ in the land; Everything is getting’ higher and the time’s getting tougher, sufferin’ in the land… They‘re making guns and bombs to set the world on fire, Sufferin’ in the land… Sufferin in the land. I ‘m singin’ da – da – dai – dai…

Do people care about the suffering? Roman historian, Tacitus writes that for six days and seven nights in AD 64 (Anno Domino – Year of the Lord), the citizens of Rome stood helplessly by as their city burned. Tacitus notes, “Of Rome’s 14 districts, only four remained intact.

Three were levelled to the ground. The other seven were reduced to a few scorched and mangled ruins”. It was rumoured that the Emperor, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, “fiddled while Rome was burning”, that is, cruel Nero was playing the fiddle (or the lyre or enjoying music, nowadays it could have been pop music), at the time Rome was burning. While Nero was secretly accused of having master – minded the fires, to get a space for his new palace complex, Domus Aurea, he, in turn, publicly blamed the Chrestians (Christians) of having started it.

Nero, who executed his own mother, Agrippa, the Younger, and his step brother, Britannicus, persecuted, tortured and executed the Chrestians, sometimes throwing them to the dogs and burning them to serve as light in the night. You may have been familiar with the phrase: “Qu’ils mangeant de la broiche” OR “let them eat cake”.

This statement is attributed to Marie Antoinette, the Austrian Queen – consort of Louis XVI of France in the heat of a shortage of bread for the peasants. Some historians argue that this statement was made one hundred years earlier by Marie Therese, wife of Louis XIV, but Marie Antoinette was guillotined to death in 1793 for treason during the French Revolution, a few months after her husband, King Louis XVI had suffered the same fate.

Despite these hardships, the President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, assures Ghanaians: “We are experiencing some challenges with the economy. I want to assure you that these challenges are temporary?” And the Squealers (as in Animal Farm) are at their best form, explaining what had caused these ‘challenges’, including the Presidential Election Petition!

What are the challenges? What happens to the various, huge taxes exacted from importers; what happens to the earnings from the oil? What happens to the various charges: road tolls, parking fees which have been raised 1,000 times from Kufour’s time? What happens to health insurance, the one – time premium promised Ghanaians by this government?

What happens to the Supreme Court order to government to retrieve monies wrongfully paid to certain people? What happens in our efforts to save the cedi from falling precipitously? What happens to the corruption scandal emanating from the GYEEDA report? You think the Woyome scandal will die? Or is President’s vehicle still in ‘first gear’ or rather shifted to reverse gear?

Who has to demonstrate patriotism? Have government appointees shown or amply displayed patriotic c tendencies? We thought from Mills’s ‘Better Ghana’, we would now be having ‘Best Ghana’. It appears to be an illusion, a hallucination, the phantasmagoria of a fevered dream.

Ghanaians have clever ways of coping with daunting problems and stress. They can choose to adopt a strategy which is called ‘psychological resilience’. We also have ‘emotional resilience’. We also have ‘emotional resilience’, ‘hardiness’ ‘resourcefulness, and ‘mental toughness’, I know of a person with twelve dogs in his house. He has names of popular persons in Ghana for each of the dogs – through this, the man can vent his spleen on the particular politician, if he desired, through the dog.

One of the ways to build ‘psychological resilience’ is to “accept circumstances that cannot be changed”, so they pray the ‘Serenity Prayer’ with Reinhold Niebuhr: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference”. OR to quote the original version: “God, give me the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed. Courage to change the things which should be changed, And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other”.
Source: Africanus Owusu-Ansah - [email protected]

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