Give Me Water, Not A Holiday – By Akua Djanie
As I sit down to write my reflections, I have not had a bath for three days. Not because I am a dirty person, but because water has not flowed out of my pipe for three days. And tomorrow, 21st September the Government of Ghana has decided I should take a holiday. Why? To mark the birthday of Ghana’s first President and key figure in Pan-Africanism, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Umm, something does not gel here.
Seriously, I see ironies in this situation. As far as I know and please I stand to be corrected Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was about hard work. He was about Africans learning to take care of our own affairs. Under his tenureship, Ghana had water. Ghana had factories. We know his achievements. So to celebrate him is laudable. However how can we justify celebrating such a visionary in such a way? Really. Think about it. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was about getting things done, so how then do we take a holiday on his birthday. The whole African continent will be taking a holiday on that day. How does this benefit any of us? How can we call ourselves true Nkrumahists if we are going to sleep, drink or dance at the beach to celebrate his birthday?
Should not the birthday of such a great man be celebrated in a way that would make him proud whilst benefitting Africans? Initially, I used to be one of those people who attended every Pan-African and emancipation event, but over the last five or so years, I have been against celebrating anything to do with African emancipation, liberation and the likes simply because I have come to accept that no African country is Independent of our former colonial masters. Not a single country out of the fifty three. Well, maybe Zimbabwe. And we all know once President Robert Mugabe crosses over to join the ancestors; his successor will go and hand Zimbabwe back to the British! Oh how sad that day will be.
And by the way why did the Leaders of Francophone Africa think it was okay to send their troops to France to march for their (France’s) Bastille Day parade? Even worse, why did the Heads of State from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo actually go to France? The whole thing stunk of colonialism. When asked on France Info Radio why these African Heads of States had been invited, the French Defense Minister Herve Morin actually said “these are countries with whom we have relations, partnerships.” Partnerships indeed. Well I guess even an unequal partnership is still a partnership of sorts! I have said it loudly in the past and say it loudly once more; Africa is not Independent of our (former?) colonial masters. And that is that.
So here I sit, no water flowing through my taps. And I am supposed to be excited that tomorrow is a holiday in honour of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Everyday when I venture out, I am bombarded by young men and women hassling by hawking all sorts of useless products from China on the streets of Africa. Those who are not hassling are begging me for money. Young children who should be in school are not because there are no schools for them to attend. Fathers are neglecting their responsibilities because they do not have an income, leaving mothers frustrated, trying to figure out how best to feed their families. Indeed, things are not good all around.
Yet, my Government tells me to take a holiday to celebrate Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. So I ask myself, what am I supposed to do with this day? For I sure do not have money for enjoyment. So going out is out! Personally, I will not take a holiday. I will not mark the life and works of the man who lead us out of colonialism, the man under whom Ghana and eventually the whole of Africa would have been a world power, the man who has been described as the “African of the 20th Century” by taking a holiday. I refuse and reject that.
For most Ghanaians, holidays are a time to go to the beach. Some hang out at other places. But generally, holidays are about getting drunk, eating, dancing and basically having a good time. Now, I have no problems with taking a holiday as a result of hard work. We all need to rest occasionally. As they say, all work and no play makes Kofi a dull boy (okay, they actually do not say Kofi, but I prefer Kofi to Jack!). But have we as Africans worked hard enough to justify taking a holiday on Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday?
Currently as I write my reflections, the President of Ghana, President Atta Mill is in China where he has just signed a deal which will see China lending Ghana three billion dollars towards the development of our energy sector. And that is not all. In addition, China will also give Ghana preferential buyers credit of two hundred and sixty million dollars for the expansion of the Kpong Water Works and a one hundred and fifty million loan for Ghana’s e governance project. Fair enough, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah also sourced funds and worked with foreign partners.
But the difference is under Dr. Nkrumah, the monies were actually spent on projects that would benefit the whole of society. With our current crop of African Heads of States, not a day passes that they do not go, begging bowl in hand, for a loan for sorts. Be it the Malawian President or his Kenyan counterpart, from North to South from East to West, all our African Leaders run to Japan, Denmark, United Kingdom and the likes for loans and aid. Yet we do not see how the monies are used back home. Our leaders continually fail us. They are clueless as to how to move their people forward in terms of providing basic immunities like water and infrastructure such as roads and streetlights.
So rather than take a holiday on Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday, we must use this day as a day for African inventors to showcase their craft. I have said it in the past and I will keep saying it. We need to find out who and where our inventors are. We need to invest in these people. Just imagine every year on September 21st, Africans from all over the Continent organizing an inventors fair. Every inventor will be encouraged to exhibit at the fair. And the most important aspect of the fair would be the linking up of inventors with Africans (either at home or in the Diaspora) investors. Because I really believe in the existence of our inventors. They are there.
We either do not know, believe in, encourage or nurture them. To give an example, Apostle Kwadwo Safo is inventing and manufacturing goods in Ghana – from musical instruments to televisions to cars, the man is producing it. Apostle Kwadwo Safo is a proud and patriotic man who believes Africans have to create our own wealth, from within our own individual countries without any foreign assistance. He preaches and practices self empowerment through his belief that the way to success is in identifying, improving and nurturing talents. Apostle Safo is currently constructing facilities which will be the epicenter of Research and Development of his real mission ‘the Redemption of Africa’. He also plans to build the African University of Technology.
A fitting way to celebrate a legend like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah would be to see people such as Apostle Kwadwo Safo getting together to figure out how best they can turn their inventions into everyday useable products. Because I sincerely believe there are more Apostle Safos in Ghana and across our African Continent. But a holiday? In remembrance of Osagyefo Dr, Kwame Nkrumah. No no no. we have got it all wrong.
Come September 21st, businesses will be shut. Monies will be lost. And although the holiday is in remembrance of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, I can bet the little I have that most people will not even spare a thought for the man. Seriously. It is so sad and pathetic that school children have been given a holiday without knowing why. My eight year old son came home, told me he would not attend school tomorrow. “Why?” I asked. “The teacher said we should not come.” Again I probed.
“Why?” His response pretty much sums up what I think most people will say when asked why September 21st is a holiday across Africa “ahhh…” And believe me when I tell you my son is not the only young boy who did not know why he is to take a holiday on this particular date (I say did not because now he knows. I even went as far as to explain to him why it was an unnecessary and useless holiday.) People just hear holiday and they get excited. Which is why the true Nkrumahists amongst us must ensure this holiday does not become like all other African emancipation / liberation events. In fact, we should abolish the holiday all together.
I applaud the current Government of Ghana in realizing, accepting and being pro-active in the fact that Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
must be remembered and celebrated. However, persuading the entire African Continent to take a holiday is really not the best way to move forward as we go back in time to honour the “greatest African of the 20th century”.But hey, these are just the reflections of an ordinary African woman.
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