Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ghanaians are suicidal.

I came to this staggering and shocking realization a few months ago whilst on vacation in the motherland.

First off, you have to know I’m very paranoid. Living in Europe for several years has made me so paranoid and afraid of a lot of things. I’m scared of heights, water, worms and even cockroaches which I grew up with back home in Ghana. Coming to Ghana however, I developed new scarier phobias. I became so afraid of being out on the road. It’s scary being in any sort of vehicle at all in Ghana; be it private or commercial. The way drivers maneuver the roads, one just wonders how in heaven’s name those drivers ever got driving licenses. As for the trotro drivers…gosh! They leave me speechless n hanging on a prayer. I have to admit I have sworn myself off trotros for obvious reasons. Well, the only time I was on one this year, I was traveling with my mother from Achimota to Madina and mama mia! Holy God! I think I must have died a thousand times before that journey was over. The driver was in a league of his own swerving and weaving in and out of traffic as if he were driving a two-seater sports car. I honestly wasn’t sure we were gonna make it till we reached our final destination. Thank God! So I jokingly told a friend that I would buy myself a big jeep so no driver could intimidate me on the road. He simply answered, “oh my sister, those trotro drivers will kill you oo”.

Of course, one has to be fair. Saying that the roads in Ghana aren’t the best is a gross understatement. Most of the roads in Ghana are terrible. They are in dire need of repairs and maintenance works. In most places, the needed road signs are not even in place. In Europe, maintenance works are carried out on all the roads in summer. And while I’m perfectly aware of the fact that our government just doesn’t have the necessary revenue to indulge in such high cost developmental projects, I do not think it would be too much to expect that a decent percentage of the nation’s budget could be devoted to upgrading our country’s roads to acceptable international standards so as to save precious human lives.

That aside, one has to question the procedures involved before drivers get their licenses. Can it be proven that every single driver in Ghana went to driving school, passed the required tests and graduated qualified and certified road worthy? When I mentioned wanting to learn how to drive, a friend quickly offered to teach me to drive in a matter of days at a football park not far from his house. Granted I do learn how to handle a vehicle in a week, what about the other absolutely important things I need to know before I even start up my car’s engine? What about road signs, emergency situations that could occur whilst one is on the road, first aid? The proper education has to be given to drivers and would- be drivers as well. Being in possession of the “thing” (the vehicle in this case) doesn’t make one an automatic professional. Thinking otherwise amounts to the same very erroneous assumption that men with huge manhoods are great lovers in bed. Time has to be taken, as with any other profession, to learn and perfect the art of not only transporting oneself but making sure that others both on the road and in the vehicle get to their destinations safe and sound.

I never watch the news whilst I’m in Ghana for one very simple reason. Every time I put on the television set, I’m sure to see and hear another news item about yet another road accident that has claimed a few more lives. There’s carnage on our roads and it’s got to stop! The statistics are there for all to see. We might be living in one of Africa’s most peaceful countries and yet thousands of lives are claimed every year in our Motherland through road accidents. The situation is horrifying to say the least: bus overturns killing 18 SHS students; truck swerves off road and kills waakye seller; timber logs rolled off truck killing 3 passersby, these are but a few of the deadly headlines we wake up to daily in our country.

Whilst I understand that the title of this article might sound a bit too harsh and controversial or bold as someone put it, I believe it so aptly captures the state of mind of Ghanaians. We seem to have become so accustomed to seeing blood and hearing about death that the loss of life has become so commonplace to most people. Most these days spend the greater part of their time attending funerals. Someone somewhere is always dead and that sad event becomes an occasion to gather, eat, drink and try to guess whose funeral they will be attending next. It is horrifying and so sad and pathetic we have become a nation of grievers- a nation that has given in to death and accepted all its gruesome terms. Who will deny that Ghana is a nation blessed by the Lord Himself? Ghana is a country rich in natural resources, with a beautiful climate and peace loving people. Whilst the rest of the world is afflicted by war, tsunami, earthquakes and all kinds of natural disasters, we enjoy a relatively stable environment. Why then are our people so bent on killing and destroying themselves? Is it a pact made with the devil to destroy what tsunami can’t touch?

I cannot help but become emotional when I think of the thousands of unnecessary deaths caused by preventable diseases like malaria and typhoid; road accidents; ritual killings. It is time to change the way we think and perceive the order of things. It is time to give up slogans like, “3ye Nyame nae ye3 ye3”- meaning it’s God’s doing. I believe it’s time to always remember that ours is a prophecy of LIFE, GOOD HEALTH & PROSPERITY. The Lord has blessed us with it all but it is up to us ourselves to live our lives correct and most importantly, we must live our lives giving the highest regard to human life and welfare. Then shall we truly prosper.

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