How can we cultivate a culture of ‘concern’?

A very well-re­spected contrib­utor to an online discussion group recently wondered whether we have “a thinking culture” in Ghana.

The contributor wrote, QUOTE: “I read a book recently by Nancy Kline titled, “Time to think. … This [“thinking”] is now almost dead in Ghana and Nigeria, where a return to constitutional democ­racy seems to have… throttled a once-vibrant civil society. ….

“Intellectual subservience to Neo-liberalism is at its apogee…. Nancy Kline predicts ominous outcomes for people and societies that do not make time to think.

“A part of the Asian rise … is just how seriously and deeply they thought about society and the models needed to get to the future first….When I lived in South Africa, there were book charts, just like is done for music hits. The media would talk regularly about the top 20 books….

“Many of my friends belonged to book clubs, which made vo­racious reading cool. Or hot. ….I stand to be corrected, but in Ghana and Nigeria, I do not see this. In what way do the media encourage reading and the sale of books? And learning in general? I did encoun­ter many book clubs for young people in Nigeria. Incidentally, that country retains a positive hunger for cultural sophistication…. But these efforts had no support from the media.

“Ghana [for its part] has col­lapsed into a hunt for mammon. Boorish and Philistine in the extreme. Noisy, unfocused partisan politics fill the airwaves…. Even ac­tivists in Ghana say, “We have done enough thinking!” Shocking! No wonder they achieve so little that endures … The way we are living now, is not working”. UNQUOTE

I wonder what this sharp-eyed social critic would say when I tell him that a Ghanaian, comment­ing on one of my many articles on how lunatic it is for us to sit down unconcerned and allow the destruction, by galamseyers, of the water-bodies we inherited from our ancestors, tried to discourage me from writing so much on the sub­ject. In his wisdom, “No amount of articles will end galamsey.”

In other words, although the only weapon I have in my posses­sion with which to fight galamsey is my brain and my pen, I should throw those weapons away. Be­cause “no amount of articles” I use them to write “will end galamsey.” And this from someone who prob­ably got “educated” in schools built with your taxes and mine”!

I must say it puzzles me beyond comprehension that so many of our “educated” people seem uncon­cerned about anything, except what will bring food to their mouths. (I was going to say “and drink”, but guessing from their attitude to the wanton destruction of our water-bodies, the “drink” element of what they need to survive is not that crucial to them! Why, “THERE WILL ALWAYS BE WATER!” (Their Lilliputian brains tell them).

One would have thought that such an obvious thing as the need for water, not only for ourselves but for the succeeding genera­tions we are breeding with total abandon, would fill our heads and hearts with trepidation. But watch/ listen to the daily “reviews” of the issues discussed by our electronic media. The other day, one of their reviewers was kind enough to mention that, “There is an article by Cameron Duodu in The Ghanaian Times.” That was it!

Now, the article cited contained an unorthodox proposal that our chiefs should revive their “Asafo” groups and send them into the river banks to frighten away the ruthless gangs, made up of both locals and foreigners, who do not scruple to churn our sacred riverbeds upside down and inside out, in search of gold-bearing sand, pebbles and soil.

Our war-drums had, in the past, so frightened even a contingent of the British army, then encamped in the fort of Kumase, that they had been besieged in the fort (afraid to step outside!) Until reinforce­ments marched in from Lagos! (I’d written).

Was I invited to join the pan­el talking about the events of the day on the TV programme? No. At the very worst, my sug­gestions were put to the panel for discussion? No.

The programme had its own “agenda”! Galamsey was not on it.

Yes, unless you are “in” the “media communities” in Gha­na, you can go and bring all the wisdom stolen from Onyame by Kwaku Ananse to Ghana — it won’t be communicated to your fellow citizens by your country’s media. It is beyond belief, but if you complain, I dare say they would think you are jealous and only want publicity!

Actually, what pains one most is the lack of curiosity and thereby, the lack of concern, about import­ant national issues that our nation faces, without adequate coverage by our media. Unless it is informed by the sterile NPP/NDC contestation.

I have personally drawn the attention of the media again and again, to (for instance) the inexpli­cable failure of the Ghana police to complete the prosecution of those responsible for the brutal murder, in broad daylight, of a 70-year-old woman accused of being a witch, Madam Ama Hemma, at Tema in 2010. I haven’t seen a single editorial regarding that issue in any newspaper. Elsewhere, the matter would even make an excellent TV programme. But not here.

I have also suggested, in many an article, that if the media were to follow up and find out WHO are the people that BAIL galamsey offenders taken to court, we would discover the rich men and wom­en hiding behind the brutes who are destroying our water-bodies and farms. AND NAME AND SHAME THEM! But again, no-one in the media has taken up the idea.

Nor do we know those in whose names the numerous excavators and bulldozers, seized by various Task Forces (Operation Vanguard; Oper­ation Halt” etc.) are registered!

I have willy-nilly, come to the conclusion that Ghanaian society generally suffers from what might be termed a “short-interest-span syndrome”! It is made up as follows: (a) when we are born, we aspire to grow up quickly and go to school. (Because our envied siblings and their friends who are older than us, go to school!); (b) do well in examinations that are set at the end of each short term of a mere 4 months; (c) pass the end-of-year exam that enables us to be promoted to the next class; (d) pass the entrance examination” into a secondary school and repeat the same short-term concerns that we had experienced in earlier years; (f) qualify for entry into a tertiary in­stitution where we “ditto” our life­long concerns regarding successful competition; and (g) finally, obtain jobs and mark time in our posts, until we are promoted periodically and then – possibly reach the top.

So, at every stage of our forma­tive years, we AND OUR FAMI­LIES are only concerned with Our PERSONAL SUCCESS. Tweaa – what have society’s concerns got to do with us?

Only rare diamonds of humanity shine through this society-created darkness that surrounds us. And these diamonds are often crushed by the social machinery in which they are, only too often, obliged to pass, in order to continue to exist.

By Cameron Duodu

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