Is Ghana treating her hopefuls unfairly?

Bernard Kwofie
‘‘Don’t think I’m unpatriotic, partisan, biased and a nation-wrecker; Ghana is no longer a dream but an obstacle…..’’

When Ghana was about to celebrate her 54th year as a Republic, some of us thought we had the grounds to be hopeful even with the declining economic conditions. After all it’s our Ghana and we are obligated to be optimistic about her progress. 

Then suddenly, the bizarre news that took some of us aback! Much more concerning than the disgraceful airlifting of the $3 million to Brazil, the 200 ‘party foot soldiers transformed Black Stars supporters’ who were reported to be seeking asylum in Brazil for reasons known only to themselves. Of course, there are hardships back home I guess, although they tried hiding it under religious conflicts. 

Then on Friday I read the worst news ever: Scores of Ghanaians are renouncing their citizenship! They can no longer find their feet and comfort in their own motherland. According to the report ‘‘about 817 Ghanaians renounced their Citizenship in the year 2013 as against 39 foreigners who applied to be Ghanaians; 450 being females and 367 males’’ ( 

George and Jabee

I wondered if Ghana today has become the ‘family witch who never wants any of her relatives home and will pleasurably pounce on the flesh and inflict pains on those who dared, till they became weary, and hopeless’!

As if I have encountered my day of sober reflections, a very disparaging remark about Ghana also popped-up in my chat bar. It came from a friend who for the want of this piece I will refer to as Mike. 

I met Mike about five years ago at the ‘death-threatening’ Sekondi Youth Center (even more threatening now), where the regional branch of the then Federation of Youth Associations of Ghana (FEDYAG) have been meeting. As co-founders in various capacities we were all representing our youth organizations. At the time we had all completed university and were awaiting national service, along with the hope of a better life afterwards.

Then our friendship grew at the National Youth Camp in 2009. Mike is a brilliant chap and an ambitious youth. He is a hopeful and it’s easy for you to identify with his noble personality. With his background in economics and his interest in politics, you do not need a sorcerer to tell he is an emerging policy maker, diplomat and political figure. In the next decade I know Mike will be consulting on a number of agricultural and youth issues.

Today he is working as an Economist with an agency of the UN and from all indication Mike will not want ‘to meet Ghana in the face again’. The last time we met was mid-2013. So it dawned on me to search for Mike after this long absence. As of him he was the first to start with the accustomed ‘‘bro, long time’’ stuff. As anxious as I was, I asked if he has given up on youth activism. Mike sighed and said he was out of the country. Then he continued, ‘‘Ghana didn’t treat me fairly’’.

Mike’s comment is not in isolation. It is also not strange, biased and unpatriotic, unless you are a politician. It’s much more like those Ghanaian professionals who have renounced their citizenship. I knew Mike had given his all to make it better in Ghana and feel at home. I know he has ‘gone the length and breadth’ to not only get a job but also secure support for his non-profit and other initiatives. But Ghana will not let him. Like ‘Abiku’ in JP Clarks poem (only that this time it’s a mother tormenting her children) Ghana seems ‘‘coming and going’’; tormenting my friend. 

The challenges of today’s young graduates are widely known. A degree is not enough for a decent job. It is even more frustrating to fit into the economy even with your own initiative. It can take you forever, if not it is impossible to not only find an opportunity here in Ghana to contribute but also create one for yourself. I remember a young female chemical engineer trying to make a difference with her non-profit out of frustration wondered why she needed to be justified.

Ghana today has become uninhabitable, doing everything to make her children become strangers even at home. The state even feels threatened by her talented and high potential graduates. Now most of them like Mike, after their sweat and struggles, (unable to have the opportunity a country is obligated to offer its ambitious growing generation) have given up on Ghana. They have either left the country, hoping not to return or renounced their citizenship. 

But the thing is, for which I asked my friend, was if he thinks it is Ghana that treated him unfairly? Which mother will not want to give her children the very best of life and make them feel at home?

I know your guess is as good as mine.

Clearly it’s not Ghana. It’s her children, those fortunate and privileged ones. Those who are still sucking her breast even with their full grown teeth, those children who should have been paying back what Ghana gave them; the elderly whose responsibility now should have been in the takeover of Ghana’s love, affection, hope, opportunities and  hospitality to her children. It’s the politicians, those government officials and appointees who are adding nothing yet taking all. They are the ones treating her hopefuls unfairly! Then they make us all believe it is Ghana. 

For us young people it just about time we topple the old structures and processes that govern our world and are making it unsafe to inhabit.

And so, should you meet someone like my friend Mike, tell him or her, it’s not about the country. It’s not about motherhood. It’s the people. That Ghana is still an African mother with deep compassion who cannot afford to give her children away to some strangers. Ghana like any mother is still overprotective of her children even those far away home.

This piece is dedicated to my friend Mike who is now in Italy. He gave me the inspiration for this piece when he said and I quote…’’Ghana treated him unfairly’’. Mike until his departure for Italy was a young Ghanaian hopeful and a youth activist in good standing.

Then to these two friends and University mates, George and Jabee who allowed me to use this gorgeous photo for my piece. Just as you can see from their smiles they are another two hopefuls. George is supposed to have been a ‘witch-doctor’ in his hometown but chose instead to pursue a profession in accounting and help build a nation. Jabee is now a researcher instead of a vocation in fishing. They are both old students of St Louis Senior High.

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