Friday, March 19, 2010

Contemporary Ghanaian Contrivances

Living outside the borders of Ghana, as I do, one of the few self-preserving delusions I allow myself to harbor and indulge in regularly is this puritanical and idealistic image of Ghana and Ghanaians-the feel-good this-type-of-sh*t-can-never-happen-in-Ghana lines, refrains and pretences Ghanaians so love to carry like a badge of honour.
Perhaps, like many a Ghanaian, I have developed an image of Ghana largely based on false idealism- a hollow concept that places Ghana on an impeccable pedestal of high moral excellence.
On many occasions, I have found myself comparing the Ghanaian way of life to those of other people, cultures and value systems and puffing out my chest proudly in the belief that our way, the Ghanaian way, is far superior. I have always contented myself - that Ghanaians are not criminally minded as others; that the cases of teenage pregnancies in Ghana is below the continental average even though I do not have the facts to support such an assertion; that Ghanaians are a breed of hard-working geniuses; that Ghanaian men do not rape their women and girls; that our education system is one of the best, if not the best in the whole continent; that Ghanaians are the most friendly and peace-loving people in the entire world. . . . .I suppose that I am referring to my own irrational assumptions of Ghanaian exceptionalism.
I am perfectly aware of the fact that Ghana is far from this idyllic picture of perfection I have chosen to believe in, however I cannot seem to bring myself to admit that the view I hold of Ghana, when outside, is outright naive, unreasonable and even deceptive. Call it patriotism, nationalism or whatever you like.
Every time I am in Ghana, my idealist views come into sharp confrontation with what pertains in the real world of today's Ghana. But as soon as I am outside Ghana's borders, guess what, the same idiosyncratic mindset creeps in. So today I want to dwell on some Ghanaians peculiarities for a change.
This preconceived Ghanaian 'superiority complex' has got to go.
To accept an image of Ghana which is totally different from the enormously deficient one I have been carrying, I believe, is the beginning of a therapeutic release from my self-imposed idealism. So? ? ?
Here are a few of my observations regarding the absurd contrivances we so cherish and love to pursue.
Our funerals
We are a bunch who love entertainment. So we even trivialise the funerals of our departed ones and turn what is supposed to be solemn moments into mindless occasions for parties, where all sorts of debauchery are not only permitted but encouraged with glee. How we love to lavish attention on the dead as supposed to the living! No wonder funerals are the primary occasions where families and communities come together. In many cultures, a funeral is short and simple-solely built around bidding farewell to the dead.Nothing more nothing less.
Our cultural mindset is the opposite. We are always looking back such that we place obscene value on what is dead and past and not enough focus on the future, on our children, our jobs and our dreams.
Perhaps, it is a symptom of our collective fear of the future? So we hold unto the past?
Valentine day celebrations
Not only have we embrace the vanities of other cultures but have jump into them head first. A case in point is the celebration of valentine day. We have managed to take it to levels previously unheard of any where else. Husbands leaving their wives at home and splurging on mistresses and other people's wives with wanton gifts they cannot afford, whilst their children walk around in tattered clothes. Misplaced priorities.
The get-rich-quick by-all-means phenomenon of sakawa is another contrivance in Ghana today. We have perfected the science of swindling other people of their hard-earned money for our selfish use.
We have become a society gripped by the urgency of 'having, using and enjoying' instead of one concerned with 'doing, creating and becoming'. And the sad reality is that nobody bothers any more to ascertain the source of people's wealth.
To us wealth is wealth irrespective of the source and the processes involved in its acquisition. That is why many Ghanaians never bother to learn and develop the habits, skills and the value systems needed to create wealth for ourselves and our communities.
Disregard for integrity
We are as vain as it gets. Most of us claim to be believers but our actions do not bear testimony to our faith. The idea of integrity is a foreign concept to most Ghanaians. Our own kith and kin do not brink when it comes to taking advantage of us. Comfort and convenience triumphs over integrity and accountability in our corner of the world.

And I think that we are not as awesome as we think we are!


Myne Whitman said...

Oh noo, I don't think it is right to generalize like this. Most Ghanaians I've met are quite nice and straight forward. I do agree though that some of us persist in seeing only the good though there may be some bad but we still have to be judicious.

posekyere said...

Don't I have a right to vent just a little bit,MW?

lucci said...

I'll admit, when one travels beyond the shores of Ghana, we turn to see the country in a whole new light. Though it may not meet the standard in our heads. There still are certain things that will you neva see being done in Ghana. Even if it's exist, it's only to be found in the dark alley as it's not acceptable.

posekyere said...

I think you are right, lucci.

posekyere said...
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