When South Africa's Alan Paton wrote Cry The Beloved Country in 1948, it was to protest against the injustices that pervaded South African society at the time. Paton's book sought to highlight fear, sabotage, racial segregation and looming entropy infiltrating South Africa in those days, in order to force the world's attention to his country's direction. Paton aptly demonstrated that the restrictive governance system, in which South Africa was operating in yester years, was inimical to both whites and blacks and when left unchecked, could ultimately lead to the destruction of the country. The book however ended on a positive note, indicating that all was not lost for South Africa, and that after all there was light at the end of the dark tunnel. That dark tunnel turned out to be the oppressive system of apartheid. Cry The Beloved Country has been rightly adjudged to be one of South Africa's greatest literary successes, attracting in its wake rave reviews, movies, plays and other inspired work.
The current Ghanaian situation is no where near what pertained in the South Africa of those days. On the political level, Ghana has just emerged out of a very close elections, scoring full marks (or nearly full marks) in the process. Never mind the hegemony and cross-party accusations that characterised the days leading to the final declaration of results. Socially, there is relative peace in the country with largely equal opportunity for all irrespective of ethnic, religious, gender or political leaning.
However, the critical hurdle that the country has to climb comes in the form of development and social progress. Fifty-two years into the post-independence period, Ghana is still struggling to come to terms with basic developmental landmarks such as education, health, agriculture and now ICT. Poverty still stares the masses closely in the face. It is as if the life of chronic deprivation, want and squalor have hugged our people so tightly, the way super glue sticks to stuff, that they cannot disentangle themselves. Here in lies our shortfall as a nation.
In a related development, the World Bank has waved red flags at the current state of the Ghanaian macro economy. Recently, the World Bank country director warned in a January report that despite recent growth, both the fiscal and balance of payments deficits of the country were "unsustainable." Additionally, we are currently enjoying a respite due to the rapid decline of the price of crude oil on the international market. But I ask myself the question: "if this trend should continue, what are the implications for the country in mid 2010 when we start exporting oil?" I am no economist, so i leave this to those who are more qualified to answer. But my lay mind tells me that things are going to be quite tough within the next couple of years and we must brace ourselves for it. Also we should lower our expectations with regards to the potential revenue we would get from crude oil sales.
But all is not lost. The resilient Ghanaian personality has been through some pretty rough times and come out strong. We have been through colonialism, many coup d'etats, famine and we are still moving on. What is required now is a concerted broad-based social initiative to lift the country out of the quagmire of poverty and underdevelopment, and to pull the chestnut out of the raging flames. That positive Ghanaian attitude that refuses to waver in the face of the storm, the tendency to smile calmly, irrespective of the situation at hand, must be called into action.
To wind up, struggle, politically, socially and economically, threaten the development efforts of many countries. Ghana's current situation should not be a disincentive to the country's known hallmarks of hardwork and excellence. I therefore exort every Ghanaian to put their hand to the wheel and do service to the motherland. Yes we can! Smile the beloved country, smile at the storm!