Verbs are louder than nouns

Towards a Better Educational System: Are we All Involved?

 

Originally published on 26 May, 2016. 

Crucial to the realization of inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all (SDG 4) is decentralized participation involving community members and other important stakeholders.

Education is among the top priorities by governments across the world. In the United States, both Policy reform advocates and Politicians are concerned about how to revive and enrich public education to maintain economic competitiveness and world influence. In china, efforts to consolidate status as the world’s manufacturing hub has received considerable support through significant education reform and investment. In Ghana, the discussion is gradually migrating from getting more people into school to improving the quality of the learning experience.

The task to ensure quality outcomes and quality investment into critical areas at the basic, secondary, technical, vocational and tertiary educational levels is however beyond the government; hence the need for community ownership and participation in facilitating a successful educational reform in the country.

VIAM Africa Center for Education and Social Policy undertook a consultation exercise on behalf of the Education Commission, a global initiative under the chairmanship of Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education. VIAM organize sessions in selected communities in Accra, the capital city of Ghana to gather input of key education stakeholders, including technocrats, policy makers, relevant stakeholders and consumers of education, around stipulated research questions to support the Commission’s development of a strong and comprehensive final report. This falls in line with VIAM’s commitment to serve as a resource for government departments and agencies, education institutions, philanthropic foundations and others committed to improving access, quality and management issues in education.

Over 50 people participated in this exercise. Consultation sessions were held at three different locations; first two sessions in the afternoon and the last session in the evening. These locations were of close proximity to the settlement of participants. Each session began with an overview of the Commission’s work as required, after which discussions around key questions began. Owing to differences in literacy among participants, some of the discussion questions had to be rephrased in a language semi-literate and illiterate participants can understand. Questions were also translated into the main local dialects for some participants to understand (Ga, Twi, and Ewe).

From my interactions with participants, I observed that parents and guardians are very much interested in the education of their children. For some, it is an issue of giving their children a privilege they never had. For others, it is about preparing their children for future demands and opportunities. Their interest is however constrained by socio-cultural and economic factors.

Unemployment, poor family planning, broken homes as a result of divorce, among others are some reasons parents find it difficult to educate their children. A more dangerous constraint is skepticism at the importance of education due to the prevailing condition of graduate unemployment; “what is the point of spending millions of cedis educating my child, only for her to graduate and sit at home because there is no job”, a parent lamented. This however is an expression of frustration, than an outright devaluation of education.

According to participants, poor community involvement, backward socio-cultural norms, outdated curriculum, bad economy, poor parental supervision, to mention a few, are obstacles to raising educational quality in Ghana.

14 years from now, participants project school fees will skyrocket beyond the reach of parents, confidence in public schools will plummet, private schools would outnumber public ones, technical and vocational education will gain momentum, and wholesale education finance for both the rich and the poor will cease.

Education finance remains a vexed and contentious matter. The discussion on the extent to which government, the private sector and parents should be financially involved is useful for building consensus and deploying much needed reforms. Just as important is the involvement of those at the bottom of the pyramid which comprises consumers of public education, mostly the poor, in the discussion. Also, the skepticism and negativity can be put to rest if requisite reforms and financially viable alternatives for the funding of public schools are developed and implemented.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ghana’s Social Sector: Any Dividends on Investments?

Originally published in January 2016.

Over 10 billion Ghana Cedis has been allocated to the social sector to “consolidate progress” on pro-poor initiatives in 2016. The effectiveness of this planned spending, however, hinges on two things. Firstly, proper targeting and capability of initiatives to shield poor segments of the population from the harsh repercussions of fiscal interventions and economically transition them to productive employment. Secondly, the sustainability of these initiatives. [1]

The main driver for the leap in the 2016 budgetary allocation for the social sector is compensation which went up by 4.7% (close to GHS 300m) compared to the 2015 allocation. Further, goods and services from government funds decreased by 74% (about GHS 78m) partly because government expended more in the previous budget. Capital expenditure in the sector is to be funded through retained internally generated funds (IGF) and grants. In a nutshell, the 2016 budget is not different from previous budgets except noticeable reduction in government spending on goods and services and significant retention in IGFs.

But what is the state of key programs and projects that the budget seeks to fund?

The LEAP (Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty) program, which seeks to provide a safety net for the poorest and most marginalized groups comprising 3.7 million of the country’s population[2],, is having challenges with implementation yet government plans to scale it up to “250,000 beneficiary households in 2016 and strengthen the institutional arrangements for social protection” afterwards.[3] This is a classic case of putting the wagon before the wheel. The program, launched in 2008 with a coverage of over 71,000 households as of June 2013, is facing unsteady flow of cash transfers to beneficiaries, poor household consumption and utilization of health services. These have to be fixed before expansionary measures are taken and also, for the program to truly deliver on its outcomes.[4]

A recent study by the African Development Program revealed that 80% of LEAP beneficiaries do not know the amount due them whilst 85% are not aware of the number of times they should receive transfer. The study further showed that some “beneficiaries were not aware that being on LEAP grants them the opportunity to be automatic members of the NHIS”, hence these beneficiaries use their transfers to access healthcare leaving little for consumption on other necessities. [5]

Though government increased cash grants from GHS 36 to GHS 44, the health of the economy also matters for it has a bearing on the impact of LEAP. Further worsening of economic conditions will trigger a spurt in cost of living reducing the purchasing power of LEAP beneficiaries. This will eventually defeat the goal of the program, which is, poverty reduction. Besides these challenges, the extension of the program to cover over 400 lepers and 751 persons in witch camps is worth commending.

Government is also investing heavily in infrastructure in the health sector. The University of Ghana Teaching, Ridge and Upper West Regional Hospitals are beyond 50 percent complete whilst district hospitals in Takoradi, Fomena, Kumawu and Abetifi are still at their initial stages.[6] An allocation of GHS 33m from the annual budget funding amount (ABFA), derived from oil proceeds, was also made to the sector.

Investment in primary healthcare interventions is also important. The country loses GHS 2.7b to malaria (US$735m)[7], GHS 420m (US$110m) to poor sanitation[8], and 1.6% of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to vehicular accidents.[9] It will cost less to reduce these gruesome statistics by simply promoting community hygiene and sanitation, enforcing road regulations and reengineering our cities especially drainage and waste systems.

In the Education sector, government has started the progressively free secondary education programme at Ekumfi Otuam in the Central region. Three of the 200 community day senior high schools have been completed at Otuam, Bamianko and Nkwanta. Government also awarded capitation grant to 438,000 candidates who wrote their Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) exams this year.

The sad reality is that we are putting so many children into school but we are not educating them. It is frustrating to see all these outputs not translating into the desired outcome of quality education delivery to accelerate the socio-economic development of the country. The Northern Regional Director of Eucation, Paul Apanga described Ghana’s educational system as “quantity producing”, not quality. The basis for his description is that “when about 80 to 120 pupils were assigned to a teacher in a classroom, there would be no quality education…”[10]

In a reaction to OECD’s (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) global rankings on Maths and Science education in which Ghana ranked 76th out of 76 countries, Anis Haffar, an Educationist, said, “I’ve taught outside the country and I can tell to the quality of teaching in Ghana; even the environment in which learning takes place; I mean look at our schools here, we don’t even have toilets; we don’t have water flush toilets; we don’t even have facilities for girls”.

In other words, what these gentlemen are saying is that an educational system built on a weak foundation saturated with teacher absenteeism, inadequate textbooks and writing tools, poor student motivation, congested classrooms and of course, absence of toilet facilities, is indeed a terrible system.

In conclusion, there are too many loose ends in the social sector for the 2016 budget to tie. To dissuade public thinking that the attempt to scale up the numerical coverage of programs such as LEAP is to boost electoral fortunes and garner slush funds, government has to fix the gaps inherent in the implementation of said programs. On LEAP, we have ensure timely release of funds to beneficiaries, monitor and evaluate spending of grants to identify areas of high expenditure and examine if it is on the path to poverty reduction.

On Education and Health, we have to sustain spending on the basics. The foundations of these sectors are quite weak. Lip service at the crèche and kindergarten levels explains the disaster at the subsequent levels of Education. We can spend less to achieve more in our educational system. We have a lot to learn from Finland, a country that spends around 30 percent less per student than the United States[11] and still rank tops in OECD’s global ranking in math and science.

How much does it cost to enforce bye laws on community sanitation compared to morbidity, mortality and treatment of filth induced diseases such as cholera and malaria? Far less. We have to strictly enforce existing laws on community health and continue investing on public sensitization workshops.

Finally, we have to pay attention to the countless monitoring and evaluation reports highlighting bottlenecks in the implementation of pro-poor initiatives. The stability of these interventions guarantees their sustainability and lasting impact on lives. We should not allow politics to get in the way of pro-poor policies.

 

References

Abbey, C.O., Odonkor, E. and Boateng, D. (2014). A Beneficiary Assessment of Ghana’s Cash Transfer Programme (LEAP) in May 2014. Accra – Ghana.

Citifmonline. (2015). Accident cost Ghana 1.6% of GDP – Road Safety Commission. Retrieved from http://citifmonline.com/2015/08/31/accidents-cost-ghana-1-6-of-gdp-road-safety-commission/

Essabra-Mensah, E. (2015). Malaria costs economy over US$735m annually. B&FT Online. Retrieved from http://thebftonline.com/business/economy/16236/malaria-costs-economy-over-us735m-annually.html

Hancock L. (2011). Why are Finland’s schools successful? Smithsonian magazine. Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/?c=y%3Fno-ist

IMANI. Ghana’s education producing ‘quantity,’ not ‘quality’ – Education Director. Retrieved from http://imanighana.com/must-read-ghanas-education-producing-quantity-not-quality-education-director/

Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. (2015). National Budget Statement 2016. Accra

Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. The Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) Program – Reducing Poverty and Promoting Growth in Ghana. Accra

Myjoyonline. (2015). We don’t take education seriously in Ghana – Anis Haffar laments. Retrieved from http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/We-don-t-take-education-seriously-in-Ghana-Anis-Haffar-laments-358022

Park M, Handa S, Osei-Akoto I, Osei Darko R, Diadone S & Davis B. (2013). Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty Program Impact Evaluation. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina

Price Waterhouse Coopers. (2014). 2015 Budget Highlights. Accra

Water and Sanitation Program. (2012). Economic Impacts of Poor Sanitation in Africa. Accra.

 

 

[1] PWC. 2015 Budget Highlights – Commentary.

[2] LEAP Briefing Paper. http://www.unicef.org/ghana/gh_resources_LEAP_briefing_paper.pdf

[3] Key Highlights of the 2016 Budget

[4] LEAP Impact Evaluation. October 2013

[5] LEAP-Monitoring-Beneficiary-Assessment_May-2014.pdf

[6] National Budget Statement 2016

[7]Malaria Costs to Economy http://thebftonline.com/business/economy/16236/malaria-costs-economy-over-us735m-annually.html

[8]Economic Impacts of Poor Sanitation in Africa.  http://www.zaragoza.es/contenidos/medioambiente/onu/825-eng-v5.pdf

[9] Accident cost Ghana 1.6% of GDP – RSC. http://citifmonline.com/2015/08/31/accidents-cost-ghana-1-6-of-gdp-road-safety-commission/

[10]

[11]Why Are Finland’s schools successful? http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/?c=y%3Fno-ist

Poverty Reduction Efforts in Ghana: There’s Still More Work To Be Done

Originally published in March 2016.

Storytelling is a powerful tool. We have inspiring stories to tell the world – about how we crushed the six childhood killer diseases, how we kept Ebola away, and gave more girls access to education. These narratives have the potential to erase Western stereotypes and revive the faith of Ghanaians in the country. But we also have to take a step back to reexamine the transformation happening to our story. Because there is a troubling remnant – widening poverty.

The milestones we made in the attainment of the millennium development goals can result in complacency which can trigger inertia and neutralize genuine commitment to the fight against deep, rooted poverty. Notable social protection schemes to tackle poverty in the fourth republic include the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), School Feeding Programme, Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty, capitation grants, Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development, microfinance schemes and emergency management schemes.

Before the 2015 deadline, Ghana eradicated extreme poverty by half in 2006 when the population of the extremely poor dropped from 36.5 percent in 1991 to 18.2 percent. This is insufficient to overshadow the harsh realities of 7.5m Ghanaians who live on GHS 3 daily. And worse still, the 2m Ghanaians still trapped in extreme poverty. Even if we imagine the lives of the poor by virtue of monetary deprivation alone, we will miss out on other crucial aspects of their deprivation.

 

According to the Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA), poverty can take the form of the following states of deprivation:
• Material deprivation – lack of income, resources and assets
• Physical weakness – malnutrition, sickness, disability, lack of strength
• Isolation – illiteracy, lack of access to education and resources, peripheral locations, marginalization and discrimination
• Vulnerability – to contingencies which increase poverty (eg. War, climactic changes, seasonal fluctuations, disability)
• Powerlessness – the inability to avoid poverty or change the situation
The ramifications of material deprivation is clear. Poor parents cannot afford fees of their wards. Poor farmers cannot attract loans to acquire sophisticated farm implements to increase yield. Powerlessness coupled with vulnerability to all manner of risks conflates into a state of helplessness. Eventually, these people have to fall on government for the desired leg up. But then they end up becoming the needed capital for white elephant projects. And often benefit less from programs which seek to ameliorate their plight and offer the necessary springboard to a better life. Despite several poverty mitigation measures, poverty still remains a sweeping phenomenon in the three Northern regions where the incidence of poverty is quite acute.

 

But it might be argued that the poor are also to blame. They are scattered under Ghana’s informal sector which comprises 85 percent of the country’s workforce. This sector is invisible to the government and difficult to tax. The downside of this invisibility is forfeiture of social protection benefits. So should it remain like this?
Of course not. Though not captured in the formal, government-led social protection schemes, these poor people rely on a certain form of protection largely traditional such as family and church safety nets. The Ministry of Children, Gender and Social Protection has to take steps to collaborate with theses informal groups at the grassroot level especially in the rural communities and build the capacity of staff at these places to coordinate programs. This is essential for data gathering and proper targeting purposes.

Also what is the connection between the various social protection programs? In a paper to research the linkages between social protection and children’s care in Ghana , the Center for Social Policy observed that “non-biological children in particular are likely to be disadvantaged in comparison to their biological peers and household members. Although LEAP is not a cause for the creation of such inequities, the additional resources made available within the household can reinstate and compound existing differential treatments”.

The poor shall always be with us. But the poverty in our part of the world is an insult to the intellect of our leadership and suggests institutional paralysis or perhaps indifference. The sustainable development goals prioritizes poverty elimination in all its forms. This is clearly a global effort we can take advantage of to boost and intensify the fight against poverty in the country. In so doing, we should be more conscious about bringing dignity and better living standards to the millions of Ghanaians in abject deprivation than meeting indicators that will make us look good in the eyes of the international community.

References
Roelen, K. & Chettri, H. (2014). Researching the Linkages between social protection and children’s care in Ghana – LEAP and its effects on child well-being, care and family cohesion. Center for Social Protection: UK. Retrieved from http://challengingheights.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Ghana-social-protection-report-1.pdf

Abebrese, J. Social Protection in Ghana: An overview of existing programmes and their prospects and challenges. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung: Accra. Retrieved from http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/ghana/10497.pdf
NDPC & UN Ghana. (2015). Ghana Millennium Development Goals (2015 Report). Accra: Ghana

Klutse, F. D. (2015). 7.5m Ghanaians live on GHS 3 daily. Published on myjoyonline.com. Retrieved from http://www.myjoyonline.com/business/2015/march-16th/75m-ghanaians-live-on-gh3-daily.php

Sowa, N. K. An overview of the poverty situation in Ghana. Retrieved from http://www.cepa.org.gh/researchpapers/An%20Overview%20of%20the%20Poverty%20Situation%20in%20Ghana11.pdf

Boateng, C. (2014). Between 50 and 90% of Ghanaian workers in informal sector. Published on graphic.com.gh.
Retrieved from http://graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/17860-between-50-and-90-of-ghanaian-workers-in-informal-sector.html

When a Calling becomes an Art

Many so-called Elijahs are being called in this era of Ahabs, Jezebels and idolatry. What used to be an intense spiritual appeal to mind and soul to reclaim people from the shackles of sin to righteousness has become a contest of the gabs. And most of us have fallen for this innovation of God’s calling.

The number of churches in Ghana grew to over 7,000 in 2010. The mushrooming of churches in our neighborhoods makes the statistics more real. For instance, chop bars, movie centers and pubs in my neighborhood has been turned into churches. One-man churches, to be specific. The man of God is not only a man of God. He is also a counsellor, intercessor, financial advisor, accountant, prophet, pastor, bishop, doctor and so on. Everything in the church revolves around him. And he has answers to everything.

What is also interesting is how this men of God confer all manner of titles upon themselves without any trace of affiliation to a theological institute or ecclesiastical council. Besides, most of them are not under the Christian Council of Ghana.
They have quite a following owing to their impeccable delivery of signs and wonders. Their ability to influence their congregants to move to their drumbeats underscore the power they wield. But these have come with casualties. People have been deceived and homes have been torn apart by the ‘activities of charlatans parading as pastors’. Calls by the Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council for the regulation of independent pastors and churches have fallen on deaf ears.

In a highly religious country like Ghana, it is not farfetched to expect religious values and beliefs to affect conduct. This is not so, unfortunately. Perhaps Ghanaians are Christians by virtue of their socio-economic status. They are drawn to God by what they can get. They are not looking for a relationship but a transaction. And these self-called men of God are the perfect middlemen. But these transactions have become quite expensive for each one of us and society as a whole.

We see this in the greedy urge to steal and be corrupt. The costliness of this transaction even finds expression in how people can clothe acts of darkness with the ever fruitful grace of God. We don’t sin anymore. We make mistakes. For the reason that we are humans. Accountable to humans. Genuine remorse has become a thing of the past.

Christianity has become a business for humans, not God. It has become an innovative way of surviving in a country with a rising unemployment rate and rising cost of living. We have reduced it to chewing and pouring of God’s word on the plights and trials of our lives without any commitment to making responsible interpretations and positive impact. It is one of the social innovations of the 21st century. The fallibility in this transaction is beyond a negligible margin of error.

We have commercial TV programs which actually rewards children who can articulate God’s word flawlessly. We are subjected to a noise pollution of reckless interpretations of God’s word on a daily basis.

I can understand that God’s calling of persons doesn’t always make sense. But when a man of God claims God called him with a female name, you don’t need to be told twice that we’ve got issues in the Christian faith.

Why Homosexuals would Win

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50 years from now, same-sex relationships would be acceptable. And faecal incontinence would just be like any other physical illness such as headache. Our children would have a choice (irrespective of their psycho-biological blueprint) to be either straight, bisexual or gay. The church would eventually lose its grip on morality and would protect its reputation with the politically correct credo “That shall not judge”.

Those protesting against the mainstreaming of homosexuality are fighting a losing battle. Same-sex lobbyists are capitalizing on what most of us identify with. Talk about Martin Luther King clamoring for the civil rights of marginalized blacks; Nelson Mandela pulling down the divisive walls of apartheid; Jesus Christ preaching unconditional love. The homosexual campaign is definitely led by sharp minds. They have shut the mouths of their naysayers with what they (naysayers) could speak with. Can you be tolerant, unconditionally loving, inclusiveness-postured without being anti-homo?

This is a game of wits, power and influence. Our media is getting saturated with homosexual content. Children including adults who resist the act are subtly getting indoctrinated. Learning and unlearning are taking place. Though a person’s conscious mind would resist the act, his or her unconscious mind is accumulating lots of material through constant exposure to homosexual content.

These guys are too smart to know that you won’t watch a movie titled “Say YES to homo”. They mostly operate on the principle of classical conditioning. Do you have a favorite musician, actor, politician, movie series (like Game of Thrones), etc.? They know you’ve come to like these persons and programmes so much that you would easily assimilate anything associated with them. So they pair what you like (your personalities and TV programs) to what you don’t like (homosexuality). It is just like a lady who wants to abstain from sex till marriage but she is always on her boyfriend’s bed half-naked. One day, she would be broken. Watching a movie series with homo content (even a content that spans less than 30 secconds) strips your mind half-naked, splitting your conscious and unconscious minds which would ultimately weaken your resolve. One day, your defense would be broken.

The media, music, movies, novels and educational content are the weapons of mass instruction homo lobbyists are using to neutralize resolve to resist their agenda. You can’t beat them by throwing temper tantrums.

Why You’re Unhappy Though You’re Achieving Your Goals

Now ever since this money came

Been nothing but stress

Sometimes I wish I could trade in my success

Y’all look at me and say boy you’ve been blessed

But y’all don’t see the inside of my unhappiness

                                                            Robert Kelly, I wish

At the center of human industry is happiness. In the words of Aristotle, “happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”. In our pursuit of happiness, we often set certain goals (the attainment of which would make us happy). However, the mere setting and achievement of goals won’t make you happy in the long haul.

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Eleventh edition) defines the word goal, as an aim or desired result. The importance of goal setting cannot be exaggerated. Brian Tracy was right in saying,

“your ability to set goals is the master skill of success. Goals unlock your positive mind and release ideas and energy for goal attainment. Without goals, you simply drift, and flow in the currents of life. With goals, you fly like an arrow straight and true to your target”.

And nothing is more exciting than the attainment of a goal.

At the tail end of The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris Gardner (Will Smith) has to fight back tears when his Manager informed him that he has won the coveted full-time broker position. He descended the staircase on the fringes of the firm, twitching his fingers followed by a clutching of his hands in awe. Most of us have experienced a similar state before.

But such states, of happiness, are short-lived unless it is tied to something beyond material gratification. Psychologist Philip Brickman and his colleagues did a study on the levels of happiness people had after winning the lottery. They observed that after a short time (a month), “lottery winners return to their base levels of well-being – if they were unhappy before winning, they will remain so…”.

An even more compelling observation is that most of us are yet to have a clear sense of what makes us happy. According to Psychologist Daniel Gilbert, we often err in predicting our future emotional states. He states,

we think that a new house, a promotion, or a publication would make us happy, when in fact these achievements only lead to a temporary spike in our levels of well-being. The same applies to negative experiences. The emotional pain that comes with the end of a romantic relationship, losing a job, or the failure of our political candidate does not last long – we soon return to being as happy or as unhappy as we were prior to the experience”.

So, as you can see, the pursuit of happiness doesn’t end with the achievement of goals per se. The path to a truer, long-lasting state of happiness requires us to first and foremost, understand the proper role of goals (dreams, ambitions, aims, desires) in our lives. So what is the proper role of goals?

In his book, Happier – Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment (2007), Tal Ben-Shahar makes the case that the proper role of goals is to liberate us. That is, goals should release us from feelings of incapability, helplessness, doubt, fear, disappointment, and failure. Having a proper understanding of goals helps us to set goals that would make us happy. So then, the question follows. What goals are key to our happiness?

Goals that promote growth, connection and contribution rather than goals involving money, beauty and popularity. Your personal development is crucial to fulfillment. You never know what you are capable of until you challenge yourself with something unfamiliar or beyond your comfort zone. In respect of connection and contribution, your talent and abilities should be directed toward something larger than yourself. We were not born for work; we were born for meaning. Your efforts should not only elicit currency notes.

Other goals key to our wellbeing and happiness are those that are interesting and personally important to us rather than goals we feel forced or pressured to pursue. There is a saying that you can force the horse to a river, but you can’t force it to drink. Imposed goals produce grief and dissatisfaction in life. And people tend to be machines rather than humans in the pursuit of happiness for others, other than themselves.

Twentieth-century scholar of mythology Joseph Campbell was asked whether he ever had the sense of “being helped by hidden hands”. His response was this;

All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time—namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be”.

So it follows that “wealth, fame, admiration, and all other goals are subordinate and secondary to happiness; whether our desires are material or social, they are means toward one end: happiness”.

 

REFERENCE

Ben-Shahar, T. (2007). Happier – Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment. New York, NY: Mc-Graw Hill.

The Ghanaian Mind

The story of the journey of about 25 million people from poverty, despair and chaos to stability and prosperity is akin to the Passover narrative of the Israelites. Enslavement in the land of Egypt for 430 years made the Israelites acculturate to the conditions their Slave masters reduced them to. Even after liberation from the bond of slavery to a land flowing with milk and honey, Canaan, the beliefs and traditions of Egypt still lingered. On their minds.

Mind is the set of cognitive faculties that enables consciousness, perception, thinking, judgment and memory – a characteristic of humans, but which also may apply to other life forms (Wikipedia, 2015). Our consciousness (awareness) influences our perception and reflection of events, and our eventual response to them. What goes on in our minds often manifests in our behaviour.

In Ghana, confronting our realities makes you appear like an angel of doom. But considering the weight of our natural and human gifts, we have every right to demand more from ourselves; every right to be dissatisfied with our present state.

The Ghanaian mind is distorted and wanders outside its home in search of a nirvana. It works to meet the basic necessities of life. It admires the achievements of other races and is enthralled by their rich history whilst downplaying that of his/her home. It believes in the competency of anyone other than his/her own. It is conditioned to work better in a master-slave fashion rather than an environment of freedom. The Ghanaian mind is lazy at home and hardworking abroad.

Compared to its tragic past, Ghana may be doing well presently but its people, Ghanaians, are losing the battle in the mind. What is lacking is an inspiration to explore pathways of making our home a better place, the commitment to make our home better and the tenacity to sustain the focus of making our home better. If in the face of racism, we could still strive and make it in Europe and elsewhere, then in the face of our present political and economic difficulties, we could do same here.

The Ghanaian mind has to go beyond ideologies. Religion, politics and tribalism are the satanic trinity to our development. They rise against the things that bond us and divert our attention away from what need to be done. They should be tamed.

Change begins in the mind. It is necessary for us to make conscious efforts to unlearn the lingering traces of slavery and poverty (of the mind). Our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up to the total liberation of our minds.