Kobina Ansah

“We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.”― President Donald Trump, Inaugural Speech (January 20, 2017)

Freedom is such a big deal to humanity. Everyone wants to be free. Back in the day, we could not wait to get into high school where our parents would have almost no influence on our movement anymore. We wanted to be on our own and definitely we were. As though that wasn’t enough, we were even in greater haste to enter university for one major reason― freedom to be us!

Freedom is expensive. It comes with responsibility. Independence comes not only with privileges but a sense of duty, too. After all, of what essence is independence to us when we still are in absolute dependence!

Sixty (60) years of Ghana’s independence is supposed to be no mean achievement. At a retirement age of 60, however, can we really boast of sustainable development and resources which have been accrued over the years?

A diamond anniversary of little or no achievement is not worth celebration, tell you what. It’s like a retiree who blames his woes on how harsh his father (who died many decades ago) was. As though that’s not enough, the little he has on him, he decides to blow it up on a lavish retirement party!

At 60, we are still grappling with the basic needs of our people. At 60, we produce little or nothing on own yet spend a chunk of our wealth on imports. At 60, we are still depending on foreign coaches― we are just allergic to hiring our own Ghanaians to be at the helm of affairs. At 60, we can’t buy and eat Ghanaian. At 60, we still have the colonized mind of a teen!

Can the Ghanaian ever rule his own affairs? Can we ever develop our own systems and tailor them to suit our environment without any foreign influence? Can the government ever create a serene environment to favor Ghanaian businesses instead of others’? Can we ever be really dependent on ourselves and independent of others? These are million dollar questions we still can’t find an answer to.

Our independence remains only a tag. In reality, we are still under colonialism. We just refuse to call it what it is. Our minds are colonized. Our media is. Nothing ever really belongs to us― our clothes, shoes and even our minds. We would rather go buy the rights of foreign soaps at exorbitant rates while we give local content providers peanuts. We would rather go buy Chinese chairs for parliament instead of giving our own Ghanaian the opportunity. The Ghanaian is his own enemy!

Our minds are still at slave. We think everything foreign is awesome and everything local… awkward. We would rather give every available support to the foreigner when the Ghanaian is unfairly denied that same support. And… we pride ourselves in something they call independence? We must get serious!

America is what it is because it’s always “America first!” They’ll empower their entrepreneurs. They’ll produce what they want to eat and eat what they produce, no matter how tasteless it may be. They’ll cut down on imports as much as they can to avoid undue competition with local content as they do all they can to export. They’ll brand and promote anything from America as though it was the standard. They’ll tell their own story… and tell it sumptuously, of course.

Listen. The greatness and wealth of a nation always lies within… not without. If Ghana will ever be great, it behooves on the common Ghanaian. It doesn’t depend on anyone anywhere. For Ghana to ever be as independent as we want it to be, we need to buy and hire Ghana. We need to empower the local industry to produce what we need! It’s that simple.

If you need cars, empower the locals to produce them and possibly, export the rest. If you need a booming arts industry, support it and possibly, export the content. A nation that consumes what it doesn’t produce soon cripples to poverty. Sellers rule. Buyers are ruled. If you care not about production but only consumption, poverty will be your legacy. The more you sell, the richer you become. The more you buy, the poorer you become.

The independence of this nation will start with our mindset and that’s what we can’t seem to come to terms with. Until we change our mindset that local content can’t be as good as foreign content, I’m pretty sorry independence is very far away from us. Until we make that conscious effort to pay for quality local content, independence will only be a myth.

It is very possible to consume what we produce. Support Ghana made. That’s how independence starts. Local content doesn’t mean inferiority. Made-in-Ghana is not another name for substandard goods. Ghana can be better only as much as we will invest in it; only as much as we will want to patronize what is produced here. The America you admire is an investment of Americans. The Ghana you will someday admire will only be an investment of Ghanaians.

What is change? Change is when we change what we used to do and how we used to do it. I hope to see the change we voted for. It starts with you and me. Buy Ghanaian. Hire Ghanaian. Quality accompanies opportunity. It takes an opportunity for quality to be improved. If there’s no opportunity after all, there won’t be quality improvement.

Happy Dependence Day! I pray we become independent soon.

The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), a writing company based in Accra. Get interactive with him on his Facebook page, Kobina Ansah.