Business in Ghana

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Letter To My Father. Critical News, 3rd August 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on August 3, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

Hi Dad. Twenty-five years and 1989 seem like such a long time ago. Yet it feels so close. Losing you was a big blow and I speak for my brothers and our mother, but I think we have adjusted well. We miss you and talk about you all the time, so we kind of have you close, closer and really surreal.

But Victor’s death. You remember, Chocolate Kid’s son? We buried him over the weekend, surrounded by family, cousins, uncles, and now I have nephews and nieces and a namesake for me, Sydney spelt exactly as mine, brought tear ducts into play and I shed a few. Death rocked the foundations this weekend.

The service was too long, the Charismatics grabbed a license and yelled at all sinners, berated them for not being holy. I thanked my stars that I veered away from Christianity a while back.

I never became a Bahai either, despite all your efforts and wishes, and after I foraged into Buddhism, I am still left with the practical life of a Buddhist but without religious overtures. I am content as a free thinker and well anchored in my desire to achieve a better life wherever I find myself.

But there is good news wherever there is bad. Isn’t that what you always said about silver linings? Leo’s Natasha got married in Connecticut. She is all grown up and settled and such a beautiful person. Hmm, she is also a dancer. Seems like the women in the family all have that bent. My Ayesha is also into stage and theater, and very good too. And she is still practicing law.

Ghana has changed. More than you can imagine. We have a new highway to McCarthy Hill, blessings to the Yankees as you liked to label them and we also have trash on the hill, plenty of it, supported by bad roads and noisy road side Kioskenomics. The road to Cape Coast is new and very good, we can make it there in two hours, but I can’t bring myself to go to Moree.

Our home village is degraded, trashed and looks unhealthy. It smells poor, looks poor and sounds deathly poor. Virtually no trading apart from the tollbooth a few yards away, which seems to be the best post for a buck or two for the officers.

That part hasn’t changed despite all the other good work they do.

We are still scared of the military. At least I still am. Deep scars of days past, when a marauding soldier could take your life for a bucket of petrol.

The avenues and lanes are eroded from many rains and we have no money to restore and maintain them. The road leading up the hill is pothole drilled, you would think someone woke up one morning and took a hammer drill to the bitumen surface.

Water? We are lucky if we have a tap that flows everyday in a week, but thanks to your engineering and ingenuity, we have increased storage capacity and at least only occasionally these days do we have to get a tanker load of water, and yes, Indians called Polytank, still here dominating the landscape.

There’s a new kid on the block; John Mahama. You remember Hilla Limann of course, after JJ did his sleight of hand and maneuvered into power, we had so much nonsense during his time. Now this new kid; just seems lost and losing.

As for Jerry Rawlings, we finally put him out to pasture together with Nana Konadu. You won’t feel sorry for them, they have done well for themselves, made money from revolutionary rhetoric and fear mongering. JJ is fat now eh, you won’t recognize him.

GBC is still nothing to write about, no progress since you left there. They now have digital channels with the same content. You are not missing anything.

And we are broke. Worse than when Nkrumah took us to the cleaners and worse than Acheampong and even Rawlings. This version of broke is dark and bleak, capsulated deep in a bosom of helplessness, deceit and corruption.

I have never in my adult life had such difficulty suggesting solutions to the crisis we face. Since I understood finance and economics, I have always seen my way clearer in explaining financial matters.

But it is difficult to come to grips with the problems, which the Government prefers to label “temporary challenges”. Our economy has never been complex; it is agrarian, now mixed with a little oil, yet still, we are scrambling for answers.

There’s this Bishop called Duncan Williams who “tongued” the cedi to levitate. Since then the value of the currency has dropped even more sharply. But we haven’t arrested him. Shouldn’t we arrest priests and clerics for giving false hope? I have so many questions for you.

And Anita D’sosoo, you would love her. She says that dwarfs came to the Central Bank and depreciated the cedi. And she was a Deputy Minister, now at NADMO. Should there be such things in our world?

We flew three million dollars in cash to the Black Stars in Brazil, so they could exit the World Cup disgracefully and we are looking forward to the Africa Cup where we usually don’t do very well. Ah, yes, even as the Commonwealth Games rage on this week and next, we have managed a couple of bronze medals. Remember when we used to sprint and box the medals home? Nada, these days. Our athletes get so cash starved they run for other countries.

I was interviewed on BBC this past Friday. The world is so focused on Ghana, I wonder whether it is because expectations are so high or maybe we have boasted about how great a nation we are for so long, with very little substance to back it up, we are now the butt-end of jokes.

We have the worst performing currency in the world. Have you guys heard about it in the nether world? Such a disaster. Do you discuss fiscal policy there? Like, does whoever is in charge hold regular press briefings for all countries and inform you spirits of what you left behind? Because no one has come back to share with us despite all the praying.

I speak about the economy and finance a lot, I figure it is the least I can do. You spent enough money on that education, so I give it back in my own small way.

We are classified “middle-income” now. Can you imagine it? We make middle-income trash, middle-income floods, middle-income expenditures, middle-income air pollution, which we support with “lower-income” income and “high-income” corruption.

Yesterday, JDM (that’s John Dramani Mahama, the President) announced we are once more turning to the IMF to bail us out of the mess he and his NDC team created in 2012. All last week they kept denying they would do so. Even had his Economic Advisor on Citifm (ah yes! they are new. You would only remember Joyfm) shying away from admitting they were heading for Bretton Woods. I am not sure whether he was lying or not paying attention when they discussed that part of the solutions at Peduase.

You remember how Granddaddy used to pick us up in the old Vanguard and rush to cross the Korle Lagoon before high tide so we could make it to Link road? There is a reef between the sea and the lagoon now, but boy, the stink. Still there, and no end to smell. More chop-chop as you used to say, and more contracts awarded, no delivery and we still keep praying.

I won’t talk about Mum, she must be in touch in her own belief ways than I can fathom. But she is well and upset with politicians. I think she has seen too much come and go.

But we are fighting back in a very civilised way. A young group of “middle-income” youth have started a “#Red Friday” movement and are protesting hardship around the country. You know it is catching on when the TUC wades in and Government itself starts talking about sitting up to “a call to action”.

I think a lot more pressure is needed, and it must come from the student front. Hopefully they will rise to the event and make a nation of freedom and justice for a future generation.

You used to say our generation would be the better for all the change after revolutions, now I am passing the mantle on already. I feel my time has passed and others should cue up to fight what JE battened down to us.

Is the world of spirits calmer and easier? Do you have Twitter, Face Book or Skype? Can you Yammer? It would help communication. This dreaming connection is now overcrowded.

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa. Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

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One Response to “Letter To My Father. Critical News, 3rd August 2014”

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