I take time out of my busy revision schedule to ask one thing? Mark Woyongo, what makes him qualified for his position?
I rarely feel the urge to side with Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, but to be honest she can take his job since she clearly has more insight on it than he does.
In this audio (make sure you've enabled windows media player on your browser) he is challenged as to whether Ghana or at least the Ashanti region has suffered a break down of law and order. This guy doesn't think that the recent deaths in Kumasi is a sign of a break down of law and order. He doesn't think that the continuation of lynching of suspected thieves without fair trial and beyond the punishment prescribed by the law is a breakdown. The fact that the people don't trust the police to come, to arrest, to hold and to prosecute is apparently not a break down of law and order. The fact that people MURDER other people and don't live in fear of repercussions by the state is apparently not a break down of law and order. My God, if this is not yet a breakdown should we wait to see what is?
How many incidents of gun crime from nationals and foreigners must we see before we believe that the authority of law and order in Ghana has been disregarded by the people and their visitors. Take any news agency domestic and international, point them in the direction of any road leading from Accra and I promise you it would not be far until they find illegal immigrants wielding weapons, violating the law, undermining the local workforce, threatening local lives just to make a profit.
The other day trucks overturned on the Achimota road and the police couldn't even orchestrate the rescue mission. Local civilians did it. 2 people died. They might not have died if they had been responded to quicker but they weren't because the people waited for the police to do their job and only acted when it was clear the police were not going to.
What is hilarious is that people like him don't want the country to move forward. His first defence is that "these events or things of that nature have been happening for a very looooong time now" and that they are "isolated cases". 7 deaths in 2 weeks, he argued was not the worst record in the country, as if the people of the Ashanti region should now sigh a sigh of relief. Further to that he committed what I can only call the crime against patriotism which is to say 'similar thing happen in 'advanced' countries and they don't complain so why are we?' The expectations of Ghanaian people on their government should not be measured against the expectations of the UK and US people on their governments. Different groupings have different values and in social issues like this, no country is "advanced". Ghana shouldn't aspire to have as many crimes as the US, Ghana should aspire to have as few as the people find acceptable. And if we must compare, I can confirm that 7 deaths in 2 weeks in London would be a problem, let alone for a city half the size, in a relatively more conservative society.
Overall the entire interview was deeply uninspiring. Mark Woyongo basically said "there are guns from the inside, guns from the outside, guns from countries that have been peaceful for at least a decade, guns from the other side of the continent, guns from the sky and guns from the trees, we know about them and where they are and despite the noticeable increase in gun crime I am now here to announce that we will in the future some time be looking to monitor, but not regulate these productions and to be honest all of this has been happening for a very long time that I kinda forgot it was a big deal from my bullet proof police protected 4x4, I thought jumping around the country showing my face would be enough to convince you that I'm worth my salary so now that you've highlighted that I'm not I'm not very happy I think you should sweep this under the carpet and we will address it when we find a mountain with a rug on top and still remember that out of 54 countries we are the 32nd largest and therefore we have massive borders to police, a burden no one else has to bear and even larger countries don't complain so hush little baby don't say a word...."
If you think I've been unfair, say so.
Thursday, 16 May 2013
Saturday, 27 April 2013
I was initially going to blog about the MTTU on-the-spot-fine that is being propsed, but I think there is a massive elephant in the room that I've only casually referred too and not actually spoken about.
The doctors' strike.
If you are in Ghana and you are upset about the doctors' strike did you join #1SimpleStep ?
Kofi Thompson (I don't know what his profession is) wrote for Vibe Ghana on the topic of these strikes. The headline of the article was "Make Ghana Immune To Public Sector Strikes". I clicked on it because I agreed to an extent. A well oiled machine can negotiate better some bumps in the road. We should get to the point where MPs cannot hype up the situation to a matter of life and death, but let me not get ahead of myself.
The crux of Kofi's article went as follows (I will provide my response in red):
No Ghanaian citizen resident in Ghana, ought to become a victim of striking and militant employees, of entities that come under various organs of the Ghanaian nation-state.
It really is intolerable that innocent people should die needlessly, for example, as a result of strike action by healthcare professionals, employed to work in government hospitals and clinics around the country. Nothing can justify that. Ever. Not in a civilised nation such as ours. Ok, really sensationalist from the off. He wastes no time. But is it intolerable really? The fact of the matter is that it is in the prerogative of workers to strike when dissatisfied with their employers. The state is the employer and the state is run by the government and we all know how incompetent many governments in Africa can be. Should doctors simply remain silent. Until when? Until elections, in order to convince their fellow citizens not to vote for the failing government? Would the reaction not be to ask why they didn't say or do something before? They have tried saying it, and the government has not felt the urgency to act and meet demands so now they are doing something and the same failing government is tarnishing them with imagery of murderers.
The time has now come for those who currently rule our nation, to take active steps to ensure that no employee of any entity under an organ of a nation-state, which spends over 60 percent of total government revenue to pay its employees, can ever hold Ghanaians to ransom, by embarking on strike action under any circumstances – without automatically being dismissed from their job. Firstly, a little minor thing but Ghana is not a nation state. Secondly, see above. Kofi's argument implies that the state is an incorrigible, always correct employer. We all know that's lies.
There can be no justification for state employees inconveniencing Ghanaian citizens by embarking on strike action.
After all, it is precisely because of the dedicated service they are required to render the people of Ghana and their nation, during their working lives, that the Ghanaian nation-state guarantees public-sector employees a pension for the rest of their lives: when they finally go on retirement. So Kofi argues that they should remain silent when they are upset in their under paid jobs because at least they will get paid some money (probably also less than it should be) when they leave the job they hated.
President Mahama’s administration ought to draw up a suitable bill to be presented to Parliament, and passed into law, which will outlaw strikes by all categories of public-sector employees. It is long overdue – in a nation that has to be globally competitive and disciplined in order to prosper. Let's try getting the Bill of Information and ROPA through first eh? One logologo line!
President Mahama and his administration, must learn valuable lessons from the extraordinary number of actual strikes – and threats of strikes – by public-sector employees, since their regime came to power in January 2013.
He moves onto GOIL and state owned transportation, however keeping GOIL and others in inadequate hands just because it's government hands and the government can "legitimately" bully people is wrong.
The funny bit and it DOES get hilarious is when Kofi Thompson argues:
Instead of the short-sighted decision to find a so-called strategic investor to hand it over to, the present government would be wise to give the Intercity STC bus company to the commercial wing of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) to run as a business.
It is just the sort of business that will thrive in the efficient and disciplined hands of the GAF – which is peerless when it comes to logistics. And whilst you're at it get rid of this thing democracy, roll back 25 years to when we were under the disciplined hands of the military. Disciplined, Ghana may have been, but poor, in fear, and an embarrassment it was also! Does everyone remember what the GAF did to the industries it confiscated. Really, you've got to be either stupid, crazy or on drugs to suggest handing over the STC to the GAF who are supposed to be focused on defending the land and supporting international task forces. This point just makes me laugh-cry in pity for people who think like this. If the GAF were so very good at business... - well I could go on with this point but I think you and I can list the countless reasons why this point was bull****.
What is going on now, is only a dress rehearsal for the 2015-2016 campaign season, when Ghana will definitely become ungovernable – if laws outlawing strikes by public-sector employees are not in place by then – as its main political opponent seeks to make the Mahama administration unpopular. If the Mahama administration sows the seeds now, they will not give justification to strikes later but if they continue to insult people who frankly have a bigger daily impact on the country than themselves then they should expect problems later. And how popular do you think the country's largest employer will be if it stops all its employees from complaining and striking when the time calls. How many of you, when given the chance to choose your CEO would choose the guy who abolished the office christmas party or the employee feedback system and whose HR department added insult to injury by slagging you off to the customers. Come on guys, let's be real.
I do hope Kofi Thompson sees this. Maybe he could revise his argument. My twitter handle is @thebellower
If you agree with him tell me why? I initially thought, that making Ghana immune to strikes meant constantly reviewing the productivity and performance so that these things don't occur to begin with. I then also thought immunity was meant that the government could negotiate the appearance of strikes and official protests so that the doctors and others don't feel ignored, but clearly for some becoming immune to strikes means gagging people and tying them up so they can't resist. It means holding their families ransom when you've failed them... wasn't there a dictator with the same plan somewhere?
Saturday, 20 April 2013
This week I had to write my Yoruba essay. I decided to talk about language and identity. One thing that upset me when reading for the essay was the opinion of Onoge (I don't know the first name) that even if African writers adopted African languages today, they would still be unable to communicate with the majority of Africans.
My high school friend once read Harry Potter in German. Was there a need to write Harry Potter in German if it had originally been written in English? Why yes of course! Why? Because Germans love their language and will not roll over to English just because lots more people speak it. That's the reason why I spent 5 years learning French, because there are languages and the owners of those languages believe in their importance. Can we not train and hire translators to write Chimamanda Adichie's recent book 'Americanah' into Igbo and Yoruba, and Twi, and Swahili, and Zulu, and Hausa, and Wollof and must I go on. All of the languages listed have speakers who speak English, some even speak multiple African languages. If all goes well by my 25th birthday I would be able to speak Twi, Ga, Yoruba, French and English and by 30 I hope to add Swahili and either Zulu or Xhosa to those. I would be more than happy to translate a book written in an African language into another African language.
That is not to say I have anything against African literature currently written in English, I'll be honest English is the only language I can read fluently BUT what I won't accept is people telling us that we must wake up to the "inescapable fact that our literary culture is part of the colonial legacy, not part of indigenous African experience" and thus we cannot change the structures with which we were left, or at least negotiate them better.
Tuesday, 9 April 2013
This week we've had many announcements of strikes in Ghana. So much so that people are now calling for all the striking associations to come together and just have a day of public action for Ghana. The government is working hard to convince the Ghanaian public that the striking associations are not being fair and are not being honest. Yet again imagery of blood money is conjured when politicians refer to the doctors strike but they won't fail to mention that the ex-Gratia and the MPs wages are "constitutional". More than anything it is necessary that all of us speak for our fellow Ghanaians and defend them in their struggle with the government. The boy in the following video is speaking to the betrayal that we British students have suffered over the past 3 years at the hands of our Student Union representatives. I will spoil it for you - he withdrew his application at the end - and that's perhaps the best part of the vid because he recognised that he wont benefit directly from his speech but nevertheless it was important that he used his speech to speak for others who have been frustrated with the status quo. Could someone in Ghana do similar?