A teacher was explaining the barter trade system during the slave trade era to her pupils in a history class, she told them how foreigners gave us cloth, sweets etc. in exchange for our gold and people.
One of the students in amazement shouted in Ga, “No miin eee wo lu eee, woke gold chake) mama”, meaning, “then we were fools, we were exchanging gold for cloth”. We all burst into laughter when the headmistress narrated the story and described the disappointment on the student’s face.
Though funny, the system of barter trade that reduced our humanity hasn’t ended and it’s practiced today. The sad reality is that, it is the black man in power who subjects the fellow countryman to the barter trade. We get angry at the deceit that robbed us our freedom in the past but hail the politician for doing the same thing. We are no different just worst.
The tragedy today is that the same system we abhorred, which forced us to fight for independence is being used by the black man against his people- the politician will give you the same cloth, money, and sometimes as little as sweets, just as the slave master gave in the days of old in exchange for your vote and power, and will never improve the condition of your life, and you cannot hold him accountable.
The same lies we believed that made us give our wealth and power to the slave master, are being told now and we believe them. When you accept any offer from a politician or leader in exchange for your vote and power, which compromises your ability to make right judgments, you have re-enacted the barter trade of the slave trade era. Even worse, you have exchanged value for nothing.
We fought for independence to be free from the white man’s barter trade but submitted ourselves to our fellow black man’s. We have driven the white man out to dominate the trade among ourselves. The chains that keep us bound today are not on our hands and legs but on our minds with the keys in our pockets.
What makes our story today extremely sad and unacceptable is that, the barter trade of old triumphed on ignorance- out of what our ancestors did not know, the white man robbed them, but in our time, where knowledge abounds and everyone seems to be enlightened, we will still accept a token from the politician in exchange for vote and power and never hold him accountable for his actions. Even if the uneducated do this, the “literates” of our country should not fail us. We can’t repeat the mistakes of the past and hope something better for future generations.
You will see a well educated Ghanaian with impressive academic laurels defend falsehood and rot, because he exchanged his conscience for a token from a political party, a politician, or leader. We defend the “undefendable” and feel proud. Sometimes our attitude makes the education we hail as a solution look meaningless. “Strength of character has become a rare commodity in today’s world with fewer contemporary models of integrity.”
I am convinced that our ancestors will look at us today and weep because if they had the education, exposure, and enlightenment we have, they would have done better. We have sold our consciences so cheap, it’s beyond redemption.
We are confusing the generation that is rising – this student from the history class with his disappointment and anger would want to make a difference- do something to ensure such things never happen again, only to come home to the real world to see his heroes and role models engaged in the modern day barter trade of politics. They cannot reconcile what they are learning in school with what’s happening in the real world so they get confused and assume it’s a norm they have to follow.
No matter the blame we put on the attitude of Ghanaians, poverty, and mindset, we owe it to our country as our responsibility to contribute to make it great and we can only be intentional and selfless to achieve this. It begins with how we choose who leads us. If his/her message, attitude, and records or achievements can not convince you, his/her token shouldn’t.
It is about time we question the integrity of the leader and politician who promise true change but will have to bribe you to give them the opportunity. Your value as a citizen should be so high a politician or leader cannot afford it with a bribe. To the leader and politician seeking power, a generation is rising that look beyond eloquence, campaign promises, and political party loyalty, to result driven agenda and evidence of promises and achievements, you will have a lot to prove for our vote than a bribe.
To the young and elite Ghanaians, I cannot force you to think and behave in a particular way or even accept what I’m saying. I know sometimes you have to fight for yourself, hence some decisions are selfish, but I’m appealing to you as a fellow human being and Ghanaian to reconsider your ways and give your conscience a chance. A single vote can change the history of a country, it can be yours, don’t trade it. Thank you.