It’s Tuesday the 19th of April 2016 and there was a program gnawing at my mind. It’s the first of its kind I’ve ever come across . It’s called AHA’ SPORA vs. DIASPORA DISCUSSIONS which was scheduled to take place at the British Council and the theme for the program was “From Perception to Reality”. I got to know about this program through “threesixtyGh”. To those of you who don’t know about threesixtygh let me give you a brief bio on them. threesixtygh is an online story-telling and information portal showcasing innovative ventures and the people behind them. They highlight people, places, startups, industries and events helping shape the country for the better. They do this via their website, social media platforms( Facebook,Twitter and Instagram) and YouTube Vlog Channel. For more info you can check out their website www.threesixtygh.com .
Let me do a little flashback and tell you how I got to know about threesixtygh. Some few weeks back, my creative writing lecturer organized a creative writing workshop for students of the Ghana Institute of Journalism. A wrong time was communicated to me for the commencement of the workshop so I came in late and couldn’t get a seat in the lecture hall. I stood outside observing and I saw a young lady giving a talk. From the way she was giving her presentation she looked like someone who knows what she was doing and passionate about it. She made mention about starting a blog which caught my attention because I’m a rookie blogger trying to improve upon my blogging skills. I couldn’t hear what she was actually saying so I decided to ferret out some info about her and that is how I got to know she was part of threesixtygh. It was through this same platform that I got to know about the Tedx Accra event and other wonderful events.
panelists at the AHA’SPORA vs DIASPORA forum.
Now back to the main topic AHA’SPORA vs DIASPORA. It is an event organized by Ahaspora Young Professionals (Ahaspora). They are a group of young Ghanaian professionals who have lived or been educated outside Ghana and have returned home to make a difference. To find out more about them, you can visit their website www.ahaspora.com. It was an open forum steered by Miss Solace- Rose Quartey who is a News Anchor/Presenter/Broadcast Journalist for News on tv3 Ltd and 3fm 92.7 in Accra-Ghana. Some panelists who graced the program are Mr. Kobina Aidoo, the brain behind “Red Means GO” a short documentary, and “ The Dumsor Report”, the first quantitative analysis of Ghana’s load-shedding patterns from the consumers perspective, Mr. Benjamin Anyan who is the brain behind Goldinwords.com and Madam Freda Ampofo, a Global Public Policy Professional with a regional focus on Africa. She also runs a lifestyle blog www.fabfitfine.com .
Notable amongst the issues discussed was MIGRATION. The MC made an interesting revelation that, 96% of Africans migrate out of necessity and not by choice which I think is true. The question that popped up in my mind was Why is that the case? Some people would say it’s because people want to seek for greener pastures in developed countries. I want to ask; Is the grass really greener on the other side? What makes the grass greener on the other side?
In trying to answer these questions I’d like to use a grass as a case study. if one is planting a grass to make a lawn, one of the pre conditions is planting it in good soil. After that, one has to water it regularly. When it’s not flourishing well, one has to add manure or till the land to allow the free free flow of air and when it’s overgrown one has to prune it. One of the reasons why the grass on the outside looks greener which many people don’t realize until they arrive there is the existence of efficient systems. They operate a system where the tax of the ordinary citizen is put into good use to the extent that, most of the citizens pay their taxes willingly. They operate this system efficiently to the extent that, when you are a foreigner and you come to meet the system, nobody has to chase you to pay your taxes because you wouldn’t want to face the full rigors of the law if you don’t oblige. They operate a system where governments see the provision of basic necessities of life as their prerogative and not as doing the citizenry a favor.They run a system where their nation has a dream or goal they want to reach by a certain year and the policies of any government has to be in sync with those goals to enable them achieve them. These developed countries have a system where the basis for employment is based on your competence and skills and not based on who you know or how fat your bribe is. They have a system which won’t give a mayor of a town the temerity to say that, they would pray about the menace of a fire outbreak that has occurred at a place twice but rather think of a solution that would be a panacea to the problem. They have a system that doesn’t allow you to come to work late or take unnecessary hiatus and expect to be paid your full salary for work you have not done.They have a system that doesn’t embrace mediocrity, a system that doesn’t give one the laxity to litter the environment, a system that doesn’t give someone who has embezzled public funds the effrontery to be liaising with government on how to pay the monies back after a court of law has ordered him to pay the money, a system where accountability on the part of government doesn’t only mean telling the nation the projects they’ve accomplished but giving the true reflection of how money has been dispensed in undertaking those projects and whether it’s value for money. They have an educational system that enables majority of students to unearth their potentials.
I could go on and on but all I’m trying to say is that, the reason why the grass looks greener on the other side is because they have an efficient system that runs the country and everybody makes it work. This is what we are lacking in Ghana and Africa as a whole.
I was glad when the panelists said they do their best to dispel the notion of people thinking that you can only be successful if you move outside Ghana but they rather encourage them to stay in Ghana and make their dreams come to reality. The bitter truth is, it’s not that easy. How can one survive in a system where if you don’t want to pay bribe you cannot virtually get anything done. How can one survive in a system that doesn’t value ones talent? No wonder one of the panelists, Kobina Aidoo said that, you have three choices in every transaction. You either leverage the system, go with the system, or change the system and I was impressed when he revealed he resolved not to pay bribe to anyone to get things done for him which I think is a laudable move. The question is, How may Ghanaians would take this bold decision? How many of us are willing to change the system?
During the discussion, another issue that came up was ‘The Power of the accent’. Basically what they touched on was how people who have a British or American accent are given preferential treatment especially when seeking for jobs because they are seen as superior to people who have a Ghanaian accent. I think it’s very unfortunate but let’s face it. Precedents have been set by the owners of these accents and even by people who have adopted it. They have good work ethics. They respect time when it comes to their work, they are very hardworking, they approach their work with diligence and dexterity. In fact to put it succinctly, they are problem solvers.Even if you are a someone who doesn’t have these qualities and you travel abroad and work there for a period of time, most of these qualities would be imbibed in you because without them, you can’t survive. From my opinion, the only way to fight this stereotype is to Show people what you’ve got. One has to aggressively showcase his/her capabilities.
After all is said and done, what is the way forward? Basically I think in order to make the grass greener here, we have to change the system. We have to stop embracing mediocrity and do the right thing. Systems are not just there but it’s people who create them and make it work. Secondly there has to be some sort of mental liberation especially amongst the younger generation . We have to break out from the boxes we have placed ourselves in. Just like how a participant at the forum said it “BURN THE BOXES”. It’s time we drum the “ Yes We Can” mantra by Barrack Obama in the younger generation. We have to incessantly let the younger generation know that, they are being brought up to make positive impact in society. Our educational system has to be restructured in a way that it would churn out problem solvers and not unemployed graduates. The younger generation should know that they are the ones to change the status quo, they are the panacea to the ills and injustices in society, they have to change the system, they are the hope of Ghana and Africa as a whole. If they fail to do this, they have failed God and country.
Someone asked a question during the concluding part of the program which I think every Ghanaian should be asking him or herself. Who is a Ghanaian? or What is Ghanaian?
I don’t have a direct answer to that but if you ask me who a Ghanaian is I have some four people to make reference to,the Late Komla Dumor, Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Mr. Ben Dotsei Malor and Bernard koku Avle of City FM. I don’t see them as Ghanaians by nationality but rather what they stand for. They stand for Excellence and positive impact. If you ask me what is Ghanaian, I’d say Ahaspora Young Professionals is Ghanaian.
God Bless Our Home land Ghana.