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Marching In The Sun - An Unanswered Prayer So Far
 
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03-Mar-2017  
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With every attention focussed on her, she makes her characteristic grand entrance. With an exquisitely well-tailored apparel brocaded with expensive jewels and luminous stones, she takes her seat at the well festooned podium.
 
 The ribbons are in red, gold and green colours with occasional black streaks to draw attention to the national flag. This is a national event and at least patriotism must be projected even though one does not have to look hard to identify party colours littered all over.Her glinting eyes, fitting perfectly into their sockets, dart frantically to size up the crowd. Her beautifully, evenly made-up face contorts with a grimace meant to be an acknowledgement of the thousands of eyes fixed on her. Oh! That exhilarating suffusion feels good. She is undoubtedly powerful. And never mind that she is three hours late! There is no lateness once you have power. Even time itself must wait for you. 

Political animal 

I know her story. Not too long ago she had been a civil servant struggling to make ends meet like all other civil servants. She had been affable but principled, notorious for her elaborate courtesy and an impeccable sense of punctuality.  Although she had always been a political animal, she had never been at the forefront of the political amphitheatre. 

To be noticed though, she had to make her “bones”-  to develop a thick skin. That involved somewhat unconventional methods, not to mention putting aside her own personal principles. With frightening deliberation, she learned the art of targeting and taking to the cleaners anybody who shared a contrary political view irrespective of their stature or achievements in life. No! There can never be any truth in whatever an opponent says. So thorough was her transformation that she could successfully argue that black was white and vice versa with an appreciable measure of success. She once retorted “I am not a woman” because she had been described as such by her opponent, even though it was obvious even to the blind. It came as no surprise when she was appointed to head the district assembly after her party’s electoral victory. 

Amassing wealth 

If she has attempted to hide her opulent lifestyle upon assumption of office, then she has done a very bad job at that. The hurried looks and whispers that greeted her appearance served as a reminder of her tyrannical status. Her foppery had not escaped the eyes of the public she serves. With a stroke of her pen, one can be suspended. If she makes a call, a dismissal letter will be greeting your arrival. It was also public knowledge that she could neither recite the Pledge nor sing the National Anthem. But she just doesn’t care! Has she not been able to build mansions and acquire several properties within the short time she has been in office? Never mind that the documents are registered in fictitious names. Same applies to the two filling stations she has clandestinely opened. Alas! She has also arrived!

 

With a silky voice, sounding almost angelic, she delivers a well -rehearsed speech, tracing back the struggles for and the benefits of Independence, the sacrifices made by our forefathers and the need for us to uphold those principles that heralded independence. She does well to remind all assembled that we are born Ghanaians for a reason, a reason that must awaken the patriotic spirit deeply buried in all. But for that wry smile, she would have done a good job convincing the masses of her conviction in what she was saying. There is no telling that she does not epitomise patriotism. 

Patriotism? 

As I shift onto my left leg standing in the scorching sun, I begin to contemplate the usefulness of all the morals and discipline that have characterised my few years of education -  a good name is better than riches, think before you leap, time is money, hasten slowly, be respectful to our elders in society, honesty is the best policy and all those others that reverberate even in my dreams. Then my mind fleets onto the reasons why I have been made to take to heart the National Anthem, the Pledge and ‘Yen ara asaase ni”-  ostensibly to make me a patriot. 

Prayers 

In my disappointed state, I find myself praying to God; My Heavenly Father,
1. Can you please help abolish the countless number of hours we were made to rehearse in the sun for this “patriotic” day?
2. Can you please ensure that we are exempted, not only from the upcoming independence celebrations but the countless ones to follow?
3. Can you please touch the heart of the organisers to make this celebration opened only to organised bodies and unions?
4. Can you please help institute sanctions for all public officials who equate lateness with importance?
5. Can you please find a way of telling our leaders that the best way to teach us patriotism is by exemplary leadership?
6. Can you please....
 

I can hear them now, initially sounded so distant but clearer now. The shouts of my name, vigorous rubbing of water onto my face. I can feel my clothes completely soaked as I come around. I had collapsed before I could complete my last petition to God. As I struggled to recollect what I was going to pray for, it suddenly dawns on me that this prayer, like those of the preceding years, may never be answered because the Ghanaian leadership believes that by going through these rituals, my patriotic spirit is automatically rekindled. Sadly, my opinions on how to make me a patriot will never be sought, after all, am I not just one of those numerous sun-beaten schoolchildren fainting at a parade to mark independence? Needless to say, I won’t be the last.

 

The author is a Paediatrician and a member of the Paediatric Society of Ghana
 
 
 
Source: Dr. Frank Owusu-Sekyere/Daily Graphic
 
 

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