“Happy Father’s day my son” – “Thanks ma’am”: “Happy potential father’s day to you” – “emojis Thank youuuuu”. These are the first two messages that greeted my WhatsApp DM this morning. A mother figure calling me a “Father” and a “Potential Father” title from a good friend who can pass to be a junior sister should be a good e-breakfast in today’s Ghana on Fathers’ Day right? The thoughtfulness alone. Well, as much as the former message is one, I usually read with a lot of contempt on days like this because I’m not one yet, the latter is of course stating the obvious in a couple of years to come. A “potential father” I have the prospects of becoming someday and a very good one I always pray to God to be.
Their messages, despite their thoughtful and occasioned manner, have got me thinking. “Father” or “Potential Father”, for which country inside and under which circumstances. Yes, I may be taking the bite and juice out of their messages but do you blame a young Ghanaian man in his mid-twenties, living in a country at a time where all hope seems to be lost and being told by Mr Paul Adom-Otchere to fix his gaze on a none existent, soon to be flooded if it’s built National Cathedral – the coming saviour of all our woes, for thinking this way? I may not be far from right to link Fathers’ Day to the economy, will I?
After all who would want to be a father in our country at this time? I know they won’t tell us nor will some of them accept but the responsible ones are suffering! School fees alone are a wahala not to talk of rent, food, clothing, bills etc. Most of them are struggling to meet the most basic needs of their families due to no fault of theirs but an all-time high economic hardship. Ghana is one of the most difficult countries to live in now in the whole wide world and the evidence supports it. I doubt any man yet to be a father will be enviable of his fellow who is being celebrated in all his splendour today as “Kofi Papa”. I dare say some of them are not even happy to be celebrated today because Ghana ay3 shi unless you are in the league of the “Papanos” or the “Nananos” who only know inflation by what it means in the dictionary but don’t feel the pinch of it in their pockets.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my country Ghana. I have always been the most patriotic of Ghanaians growing up. My love for Ghana has always seen no bounds and it reflects mostly in the things I do. I have always believed that it will work out. Maybe I didn’t understand the basics of life back then but I’d never seen myself living anywhere but Ghana until recently. I love the life here. I love our people. Our peace is not something I take for granted. Oh our music, my Kofi Kinaata and TyCuun, our food, Blackstars, Thomas Partey, not forgetting my favourite and witty journalist, Mr Bernardinho Koku Avle, everything surrounding us makes me not want to consider leaving Ghana. It had been my dream to be married after my 20-something birthday next year, give birth and give all my children Ghanaian names and force them to speak my local dialect because they are Ghanaians first before anything. That is how much I adore this country.
“I would love to travel outside for school if the opportunity presents itself, but I don’t want to live there. I will return to Ghana once I’m done. I don’t like the life there. I love it here”, this was in a conversation with my grandfather a few years ago. Now read this advice I gave a friend just about a year ago when she shared the idea of travelling with me, “Are you that desperate? Don’t let me think you’re one, from the way you are acting. This proposal does not sound right in my ears. Don’t rush to travel. Just wait for the opportunity to present itself. Remember the Whiteman’s land is not the same as living here. Don’t do something that will get you into trouble when you get there. Ghana is not that bad as you people make it look”,
I’m sure you may be asking, what then has changed? I may struggle to answer this question but what I can boldly say is that every ounce of patriotism has been drained out of me. The hopes I harboured, the dreams I had and the realities of the day seem to have combined their gravitational forces to pull me down from my high patriotic mountain and I have fallen flat, not in love like Kelvyn Boy, but in despair like the average Ghanaian youth out there. Be like the Ghana I so much wanted to live in left my eye top and should there be an opportunity to board the next available free flight out of Ghana, I may just for a minute borrow the magical whims of Merlin or Harry Porter and meander my way in, not on a journey of no return, but on a journey of once a while I will come and visit family.
Let’s get this straight for starters, my situation is not that dire compared to some of my contemporaries. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a gentleman in my mid-twenties, working in one of the premier government institutions and earning quite a decent salary per the normal Ghanaian standard. I’ve learnt to live life within my means and on my terms so I can say I’m comfortable. This is even backed by the fact that I live with my parents and that is a great cushion for my finances – This is an option I’ll advise most of my mates to choose, if possible, don’t be in a rush to leave your parents’ house if the situation and circumstances will permit.
But despite this supposed comfort, I still feel the heat. I am bearing the full brunt of the economy. Living in Accra makes it even worse. Every hope and most dreams of mine, and many others have been aborted right after conception. With brute force from our leaders, innovative-idea-pregnant youths have miscarried within weeks. Those who force to carry through with these pregnancies are shocked by the sheer opposition they face at various trimester stages. They are mostly forced into premature labour even if their ideas survive the full gestational period. It keeps getting scary anytime most Ghanaian youths wake up with the kind of gloom they dread meeting. Our politicians have proven to be liars of different shades. The system has taught us that it is a mirage of efficiency but therein lies a real image of nepotism, corruption, deceit, and wickedness with no promise of a better tomorrow.
The same people who speak the most eloquent English, issue the most grammatically correct statements and read the most patriotic speeches are the same people who receive the fattest brown envelopes, make the dumbest policies and still raise the middle figure in secrecy to the mess they have created. Who would have thought that a Forestry Commission CEO who was campaigning to get people sacked from a supposed endangered area, was the same person who owned a portion of land in that same area? Ironic? No! you’re being too lenient. Hypocrisy at its wicked height. Everyone, I repeat everyone is bidding his/her time to create, loot and share. I think this is what has changed. This is what has tinted my innocence. This is what has wiped out every Red, Gold, Green and Blackstar patriotism from my system. This is what has shifted my mind away from this land that is rich with every natural resource yet poor and saddled with debts all around us.
And, this is my tale as a young Ghanaian man. My hopes may have been very high, I may have dreamed as big as the ocean as Ryan Shupe sang, maybe reality has set in now, but the system is my greatest enemy now. So, whenever you see me and my colleagues, just sympathize with us and offer some encouragement because we’re doing our best but the system has decided to show its ugly teeth at us. Anyway, thanks ma’am and sis for remembering me on this special day for men, but pray for me, so the next one does not meet me here in Ghana but on land, they may promise me something better than 1-0-0 or 0-0-1 or 0-1-0 eating formula or formation. Happy Fathers’ Day to all RESPONSIBLE Fathers.
N A B I L A