By Michael Owusu O’Grantson – ‘Agya-pong’
I hope this letter finds you in the best of health just as I am perfect on this side of the aisle. Things here are changing rapidly and definitely. Your life overseas is one that makes me exceptionally, proud each time I hear of new feats you have chalked.
I am at this moment seated at my dining table in my home. It’s six minutes to 11:00pm. The kids are tucked away and the wife is in bed too. She has little time for me these days. Well, she’s barely had time for her own self since the birth of our fourth child, third son. He’s got two amazing big brothers, a tender loving big sister and definitely, couldn’t have found a better mother; lucky cub.
It is honestly quite a mess in here from the dining area to the living room with toys scattered all over the place. I should be up in my home office where there is a better sense of order, but I don’t feel like it. It smells incredibly heavenly in here, I’d rather have it no other way as I will not function in any environment outside of heaven.
It has been quite a while since we spoke and it feels like you may have missed hearing from me since I have heard several calls for me to come to you and address some growing concerns. Your emotions towards my absence is mutual, we should speak more often however, the harvest is plentiful and the labourers are few. The task ahead of us is one that requires all our attention and diligence to accomplish if we intend to in this lifetime.
Speaking of tasks, duties and responsibilities here on this earth, I find none more honourable than building and preserving one’s own home. Making sure that all the members of our families are well-catered for in all things and lack none of life’s necessities. To do this, you have unfortunately had to leave home in search of greener pastures. In some cases, had to build a home in a faraway land, and also, have and raise your children there; all because it was difficult for you back here at home. Trust these words I write, when I say I understand your plight more than you know. It is a fact, that not everyone is capable of being in the frontlines of this kind of buildup.
The beginning is undoubtedly, difficult and we are still at the foundational level of this building process. The ground is hard and digging the trenches for the foundation is no small feat as this skyscraper requires foundations with deep depths almost reaching hell so we can shoot up to the heavens when it’s time to build up. The concrete is still wet so the opportunity to write your name is unmistakable but the slightest mistake, and you could slip and be injured or worse. Generally, it is far from easy, but difficult isn’t impossible.
As you already know, being an active player in the real estate industry in Ghana, my company, SuCasa happens to deal with a lot of Ghanaians living abroad (borgas) looking to purchase our homes in Ghana. Through your interactions with us and a small study conducted by SuCasa, it came to light, that there is a lot of preconceived notions and mindsets, that as long as a business is being ran by Ghanaians it must be inferior; and eventually devaluing the product Ghanaian companies have on the market.
I recently had a conversation with an amazingly beautiful and an accomplished female doctor friend of mine (I know; I hardly do female friends, it never ends well, but she’s married, lol). In her field, by all standards and at her age, she still has a lot more to offer our dear nation. In the course of our conversation, she hinted, that she had been dealing with a similar problem as Ghanaian entrepreneurs and business owners.
My initial reaction as you might expect was one of a surprise. I did not understand what product or service she rendered, that had her to professionally have to deal with continental diasporans and your sometimes unkind approach. She explained, she has a lot of colleagues who had left the country to be doctors in the Western World.
These colleagues who could honestly, earn a decent living in Ghana, unlike the below average Ghanaian would have their relatives fall ill and as expected, having a colleague with her pedigree in Ghana, they ask for her to assist handle the case.
In the course of her executing her sworn duty to mankind, God and country, they would almost be instructing her on what to do and how to do it. Many a time making statements like “That’s not how we do things here in America” (or whichever western country they reside). At one point I could sense the frustration and she blurted out, “This is jungle medicine, that’s not how you do things there (referring to the common statement a lot of her colleagues make) well this is how we do things here because we don’t have what you have there, many of you have left leaving the hospitals largely overwhelmed, that’s not how you do things there, (again referring to that same statement by her colleagues).
How were you doing things when you were here, how were you doing and what kind of impact were you able to make when you were here and what kind of doctor were you?” Posing the question to her colleagues currently in first world countries. “Sometimes, they forget they were right here with us and we saw them.” This is what inspired me to write this letter to you today.
I must say, however, difficult, that great strides in the right direction have been made. Ghana is no longer what it used to be, it is tough, but we are not relenting and the march forward is still on. In the case of SuCasa for instance, it is only one company in the midst of all these great things happening in this great nation.
What we have accomplished in such a short period of time, my God; even I who’s always unsatisfied looks at it and I must acknowledge to myself, (even though I never let my employees see), that the good work that has been realized is commendable.
The future for us is enormously greater than anyone could possibly imagine. As we say, only God knows. These wins, are for Ghanaians, home and abroad. For us all, and not for a section of the population. There has been in some cases financial support that has come from you to relatives back home and made some of these possible.
More importantly, nevertheless, financial support, is the emotional, mental and physical support with a positive mindset. The negative attitude towards what is Ghanaian helps no one. Degrading your home and its systems in derogatory statements, thinking most Ghanaian companies and products are inferior, thus, asking other Ghanaians living abroad not to patronise these services or products, comparing our political and economic status to western countries that have been democratically independent for centuries and making a joke of Ghanaian systems.
We are up against more than meets the eye. Your living abroad should not birth an attitude of condescendence toward your own, this is unwise. I understand some of these come from a place of emotion but we both know what emotions do to our reasoning.
The acts I speak about hugely, dampens the spirits of Ghanaians living in Ghana trying to make a difference as not everyone has the strength to ignore the ridicule. This eventually, leads to more and more Ghanaians wanting to leave the country and live outside Ghana as well. In recent time we have had a huge number of healthcare workers and other professionals leave the country creating a brain drain as has become a common phenomenon.
This also, impacts second generation Ghanaians, born in the West develop an extremely low sense of pride for their home country as compared to what they feel about the countries they were born in as you could even hear Ghanaian parents in the diaspora threaten to bring their children back home to Ghana when they do something wrong as children.
This creates the impression to these young ones as Ghana being a place of no hope and a doomed one. My dear Borga, you and I know, that this, for whatever purpose it serves, is not right. For this mere fact, I know that many of you are presently in a state of cognitive dissonance just like a smoker is, when he reads the warning on a pack of cigarettes but still goes ahead to light one, I understand that you may feel guilty about leaving Ghana and not doing enough to help build the nation.
I truly, hope that in due time, we can attain the Ghana we dream of and you can start to heal. In the meantime, however, we have a lot of work to do together to raise the flag of our nation high. I agree there is some truth to your claim. Ghanaians back home defrauding relatives abroad, squandering money meant for investments, not giving the best service in the world and in some cases selling sub-par products.
You are not living an extravagant and luxurious life. Yours is one that involves a lot of struggles, yet, you have brothers and sisters back home looking to milk you dry at every opportunity they can get. “People, do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving.” – Proverbs 6:30
If not family, then who my fellow Ghanaian?
Let us have a more positive mindset when we think of home.
If not for Ghana, then for what?
Let us return home, those of us with the required skills in the building of this nation.
If not you, then who?
Promote Ghana globally. You are our real ambassadors. Speak good, YES speak Great of Ghana, share Ghana, give the world the Ghanaian experience no matter where you are.
I want to reiterate the fact, that this letter is not written to you to criticise or condemn but to call you to action. Let us work together to build a stronger Ghana, one that we can all be proud of. I hope that you will take my words to heart and join me in this noble and necessary cause as patriots. For the benefit of our children, and their children’s children, that those generations eon from now may refer to our generation as the generation of their building fathers.
Abrewa Maame Efua is calling from up top. She doesn’t like me working late but I think she sometimes forgets what she signed up for. There she goes again…I guess it’s past my bedtime
>>>The writer is CEO of SuCasa, a real estate company