One day this year, as I was walking by my perpetually empty locker, I was struck by your memory.
I cannot identify what sparked its conception, but as your thoughts started to grow, thinking of possible solutions and analyzing and assessing feasibility issues began to consume me. My late father called this “ripe manifestation” and it was very familiar to me.
I’ve experienced it often while collaborating with my team of workers, and in the hours I’ve spent with them on design concepts of a prefabricated work on the relevance of morality to social development, still, nothing I had worked on before was similar to the feeling this “out of the box” thought had triggered.
Growing up in the early 90’s, your vaunted personality as Head of State inured to our triumphs and failures as a nation.
Your factor in Ghana’s politics is remarkable to attest to your influence and importance which could never be ignored: a man whose intense energy, among both opponents and admirers, is pivotal to project the political landscape of Ghana.
But it was not until the end of your tenure as First President of the 4th Republic, on 7th January 2001 that your then successor, in his inaugural speech made a revealing statement:
“The only legacy that [Rawlings] bequeathed to Ghana was poverty, misery and fear.” That was astonishing and repulsive!
However, over the years, out of the contradictions that had emerged, some Ghanaians, if not all, have recognized your ordeal for moralism. Your Excellency, do you know what a legacy is? Of course you do, but bear with me. Some people see a legacy as a garden where you plant seeds you may never see grow, but still contains the potentiality to grow in your lifetime.
I like that expression quite a lot actually. There is a lot of fear out there in the world right now.
The peaceful transition of powers and stability that have occurred in Ghana since 1992, were executed by your bated breath, as a reward for our continuous struggle for freedom and justice.
You have continued to campaign for social justice for your wont of “probity and accountability” to be knitted into the moral fiber of our society. I live out of that aspiration also.
Unfortunately, of late, your zest for morality in Ghana seems to be in comatose, amid all the unseemly behaviour that have emanated from the beginning of this year. Several fronts of immorality and lawlessness appear to be opening each and every month.
Morality and law are co-efficient of each other. As morality is a set of guided principles or behaviors of individuals, it is brought forth under coercion by social laws. Right and wrong, in the context of morality, are derivative of the lapse of time and space, with the dialectics of materialism, not scientific discovery or cosmic order.
It is important we all know that the moral fiber of a society breaks down when the structures of a society breakdown.
There is a breakdown of institutions in Ghana as a result of the breakdown of old structures. We can’t change a society for good with these same old institution or structures.
What this means is that it is not enough for a person to continue to be good when he is not given the social support to continue – he will inadvertently lose his moral uprightness due to system weakness.
Moreover, it is not enough to say a president is not corrupt when the system in which he is operating is a “lame horse”.
Corruption is a product of our social raw-materials; more so, it is not a cause but an effect of structural or system weakness.
Furthermore, I believe the recent churlish behavior by “Delta Force” in the courtroom has somehow brought dismay to you. Obviously you should be.
However, to quote Amilcar Cabral: “It is only in a fairy tale that one can cross a river on the back of a crocodile friend”. That is, no matter how bad your child does, you should try not to ignore him for someone’s child.
On top of that, it was Friedrich Engels who also said that the only lesson man learns from history is that man does not learn from history. This is not the first time, and probably not the last, that such an uncouth incidence would occur.
Going back to memory lane, in 1966, Ghana recorded the worst form of hooliganism in history from a batch of service men, who in their loose cannons, went on rampage to cause mayhem after their unfortunate February 24 counter-revolution.
And coming down 50 years after, we have once again been predisposed to a similar maraud.
Your Excellency, to progressively move beyond these menaces, there is a need for a fundamental social change – which must affect the structures of society – not the change of political Party which constitutes change of presidential power without necessarily changing the paradigm.
The moral support that we need to ensure our social development can only come from the structures of society.
For example, there are young men and women who are frustrated and cannot provide their ends meet from society and because of that they display their aggressions on their peers.
Some become criminals because of dictums of the society. And some by sheer stupidity and bravado may stow away across the Mediterranean to get drown in droves. All these are traceable to violence entailed in not organizing society in such a way to support their well-being.
Unfortunately, lack of understanding of the victims does not permit to trace it to the structure. The young men and women are victims of violence but not violent. The violent is attached to the system.
While each interest group in a society may have different ideologies, the ideal of a social revolution is to continually introduce new social systems to replace old systems to adapt to the dynamics of society – necessary to promote social development.
In essence, social mobility is indispensable to social justice. In the area of socioeconomic, once we begin to initiate policy decisions or permanent decision that will nationalize, organize and regulate our mining operations, we would be able to end illegal mining operations in Ghana.
And when communalism and cooperation are re-introduced into our African social order to replace the western pathology of individualism and isolationism, issues of looming suicide among the youth would be obsolete with.
Your Excellency, your strive to implant morality as an institutional memory, in the minds of people, as your bequeathed legacy to our nation, is sustainable when there are system changes to buttress the structures of our society.
Moving forward, the lapse of time determines the potent of every harvesting season – where good harvests are taken and bad harvest are destroyed. Take hark; know that an ordeal which becomes an ideal can never be destroyed.
By Michael Sumaila Nlasia
The author is a Research Fellow at Center for Data Processing and Geo-Spatial Analysis (CEDPA).
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