I love Ghana. I love it so much, I can't wait for these old heads to die off. They stifle growth. I know many young people who love it just as much if not more. There is a silently brewing undercurrent of young vibrant and ambitious kids who grew up under this heavy cloud of mediocrity fighting for their moment in the sun. The stars are aligning and the time is fast approaching when we are in charge of our own destinies, using the talents bestowed on us through grace. I know there is a force out there that is controlling our steps and almighty as He is, we will see this through.
Forgive the melodrama of my first paragraph, I have a knack for being excessively philosophical when "I woke up like this, flawless!" There is a permanence to a certain phenomena in Ghana. The rich man. The same names have remained in the conversation of "cha this guy get money o" for so long that their names are synonymous with the perception of success to the majority of our youth. I'm feeling abrasive enough to name these figureheads but that will be almost uncouth. However, we can still have this conversation in a broader context without doing any direct name-calling. The topic of legacy is what is on my mind primarily. For the sake of full disclosure, I am a third generation descendant of one such rich man who amassed colossal wealth and spread it across his hometown like paint on a wall so this is by no means a hypocritical assessment of what I argue in this conversation.
I find it intriguing that most of these rich men die with their wealth. Let me rephrase that; when they die, their wealth ends. Their legacies? A fractured family at each others throats for a piece of the pie. The dry and tasteless pie of metal and cement -- Cars and Houses. Some paid off, others being held as collateral by a bank for a loan taken in the latter stages of their lives to sustain a dying business or lifestyle etc. This is pathetic, I say this with the deepest sincerity I can muster. These old heads are killing our future with their lack of vision. How is a sprawling mansion at Kwahu, the one they visit once a year for the festivities and leave empty for the remaining 350days in the year considered a good thing? Or the numerous cars patrolling the potholed city they permanently reside in? Their solution to bad roads; buy SUV's. How is this a legacy? HOW?
Build a hospital in partnership with one of your wealthy friends. Build a library in your hometown and be its patron. Build a school in the village you've adopted because it churns out a portion of the wealth you've acquired.Adopt a faculty in one of the Universities that specializes in your industry so there is a continued supply of young talent who are burning with desire to join your company after graduation. Use the clout of your wealth to demand better roads for the progress of commerce, go to the extent of funding it if need be, negotiate some subsidies or tax incentives from your ingenuous contribution to the progress of the country. Pay your employees a much higher wage than the market dictates so they can also turn around and be meaningful contributors to the economy and society as a whole. Make it your challenge to revolutionarize the national favorite pastime; the GPL to be competitive when stacked against the best leagues in the world. Just a millionth of the possibilities are named in this paragraph but you get the picture I'm painting, I hope.
Competition is a great virtue. It is essential to growth. Most people who are great at what they do yearn for that competitiveness in their various fields. There is no real improvement if competition is nonexistent. I am a capitalist at heart and I believe in the invisible hand preached by Adam Smith in the bible of progress; The Wealth of Nations. That book changed my life and I read it when I was 17(make of it what you will but I consider it essential reading for all humans). You can not expect real progress if all these wealthy people invest in meaningless acquisitions. Our generation has to shun these wasteful habits passed down by our short-sighted predecessors or we are bound to do worse than they have. Look, I love luxury more than the next man, it is part of my DNA but the true test of our mettle is not going to be who drives the flashiest cars or has the biggest empty homes. It will be those who sacrifice their talents for the betterment of the country, our people. There will come a time when our toys will be a means of competitive sport amongst friends but let us aspire for higher. I want to compete against my best friend(brilliant guy by the way -- if you need a thorough business plan, holla @ Roni Laryea) or partner with him to say we have the best paid workers in our chosen field of business. I want to compete with my other friend about who has the best record label with the most successful artists on the continent. I want to own a soccer team that produces world class talent and generates a billion dollars a quarter from fans who can actually afford tickets to attend regular scheduled games. I say I but mean you.
What is a legacy? Leaving behind a bitter wife, disoriented kids who despise their siblings you created from years of infidelity is no legacy. Leaving behind a slew of houses that cannot be maintained after your death is no legacy. A fleet of cars to fill half a soccer field is not a legacy. Unless you prescribe to the direct definition of the word, the material acquisitions of your lifetime gets you the "that guy was rich o" memorial. That school, hospital, stadium, library, road, highway, company etc with your name on it; Legacy. The people will remember your name and that of your family in the history books. The people you touch positively, lives you improved, opportunities you gave, cause you fought for; Legacy. I love a Ghana that is owned and run by Ghanaians. I love a Ghana where anyone, regardless of their ethnicity or upbringing can find their way to a world-class education, decent paying job, a decent home, basic amenities like water and electricity and even toilets are not considered niceties. I have loved my experience in the US because my destiny is not tied to who I know. My Resume/CV is my only needed meal ticket. I can change my income by just improving my skill set, no ass-kissing needed. I can't move back home just yet because of this phobia, if I don't know somebody in a position of power or influence, I will be reduced to a petty conman looking for his next paycheck in the dark doldrums of corruption. This is a vision I share with many young and capable Ghanaians who are ready to take over. I write these things so it is on record that we are aware of what preceded us and we should never repeat those mistakes. I often hear certain idioms or proverbs that are inherently detrimental to our progress. One of them being; "okoto enwu anomaa" --- Crabs do not birth birds. Well, in our unique circumstances in Ghana, let us be the lions that were birthed by crabs, the birds that were birthed by worms or the giraffes that came from the wombs of vultures. That will be our legacy.