Yen Ara Asase Ni (This is our native land)

I was at the University for Development Studies over the weekend for a graduation ceremony of which I was a guest, as the programme came to a close, the military band present treated congregants and guests to the very popular Ghanaian patriotic song, “yen ara asase ni”, the inspiring song composed by Ephraim Amu in 1929 duly confers on us the duty to contribute our quota in whichever dimension towards national development; in the English parlance the first stanza translates “This is our native land; what a priceless heritage, acquired with the blood our ancestors shed for us; It is now our turn to continue what our ancestors started; know it all behavior, cheating, selfishness, has scarred our character and diminished our affection for our land.”

It tells of the blood and toils of our fore fathers in the struggle for independence and diffusing western dominance, the fact that those who came before us put in patriotic efforts devoid of monetary influence and political bias with the sole aim of making life better for the masses.

Patriotism or national pride is the feeling of love, devotion and sense of attachment and duty to a homeland, and a sense of alliance with other citizens who share the same sentiments.

There is no better foundation for building a strong fountain of development than patriotism and love for our fellow countrymen; if I do anything I do not for myself only, but for the interest of my fellow man, the various cultures and religions in this country underscores the need for its adherents to work at all times with selflessness and unflinching commitment to the cause of humanity.

Songs such as arise Ghana youth for your country, ma oman yi ho nhia wo, oman yi y3 wo man, and more prominently our national anthem and pledge, requires us to work in the interest of our nation for it is through that we can make Ghana a haven for ourselves and the unborn generations.

It saddens me however, that the patriotic foundation upon which our forefathers built this nation is gradually being eroded by the persistent wave of selfishness among a lot of our people; the system is now disloyal to the masses. Our country is now saddled with heaps of developmental problems which seems unburnable because no one is willing to light that patriotic flame to burn these problems to ashes; take a cursory look around our country, unemployment, filth, health challenges, poor road networks, excessive imports, housing challenges resulting in excessive cost of rent, these are a few of the sea of challenges facing our country.

We appoint leaders every four years ,yet, it appears governments are patriotic to their parties and not the people of Ghana, the government is not alone in this, the public sector machinery has almost grown unpatriotic to the very people whose taxes pay them every month; late arrival and early closure to and from work has now become a norm, and to make them execute a service for you, you have to part with the white or brown envelope before you will be served appropriately;, you will agree with me that to get appointed into any public institution the “who you know” mantra applies or your application goes down the drain.

I recall a story my father ASP retired Edward Odei, gave about how his appointment letter to join the police service back in the 70’s was delivered directly to his village Abamkrom in the Eastern Region of Ghana; they had no post office back then. In his words “the system was loyal to the masses”. He added,” I did no pay a dime to be enlisted unto the police service in those days”.They were selected based purely on merit.

I witnessed “magic” when streets in my vicinity within the capital city were renovated within days prior to the 2008 general elections, less than a year after, the “magic” disappeared and the roads developed pot-holes again, as I write, the streets are virtually unmotorable; shoddy work was done back then and it would cost tax payers’ money again to renovate the roads.

I believe this is part of countless cases of poor roads constructed to the detriment of the state. The analogy in the preceding statement is the sheer display of disloyalty towards the people of Ghana, the awarding of contracts to contractors whose only interest is the profits they will gain at the expense of the ordinary Ghanaian, the failure of the responsible authority in ensuring that roads constructed conform to standards and would last for a considerable period of time.

Cast your mind back to the cases of corruption, bribery and mismanagement of state funds that has cost us billions of Ghana cedis over the years, these monies would have been utilized in other pressing areas of development.

Systems are designed by humans and humans are responsible for its implementation, I do not see the reason why a footbridge will be left uncompleted for years only for innocent citizens to lose their lives trying to access the roads; another clear manifestation of the systemic failure of our public service; In Kwame Nkrumah words “ experience has shown that when change is denied or too long delayed, violence will break out here and there, not that men planned or willed it, but that the accumulated grievances of the past erupt with volcanic fury.”The actions of the people living around the Madina-Adenta highway even though harsh is justifiable.

Development is not an outcome of chance, but willing efforts by a people to work in path of planning and commitment to executing plans; no government has all the solutions to our problem, citizens are partakers in growth, if we learn to keep our streets off filth, serve our fellow citizen wholeheartedly, vote not based on tribal and political affiliation but works and proven records, and giving your best in whichever corner you find yourself, we can create a haven for ourselves and the generations to come.

I end with the second stanza of the song (yen ara asase ni) translated in English as follows;

“Obedience and respect; caring for the welfare of one another every day, selflessness in the traditional way; ensures each person’s welfare, that is what will bring peace and prosperity to our nation. Whether or not this nation prospers! Whether or not this nation prospers! Clearly depends on the character of the citizens of the nation.”

God bless our homeland Ghana.

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