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Message from the Morning Man: Bamboo – Myjoyonline

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Have you ever been to Nzulezu? You really should check it out. They call it The Village on Stilts, and it is exactly that. A whole township of houses, property and people held up by skinny bamboo stalks, and totally surrounded by miles and miles of water. At first sight, your brain rebels against what your eyes are telling you. This whole thing is standing on bamboo? Nothing more? Bamboo that has been soaking in water since the days of the ancient Ghanaian empire? Everything you know about science and logic will tell you that it’s impossible for those skinny stalks to be holding up entire houses filled with people and goodness knows what. But there they stand. Proud, strong and effective.
The science is actually pretty simple. there are lots and lots of them, and they work together to spread the weight of the houses and keep them steady for years and years. That’s it, really. Loads of them work to achieve the same purpose. Not massively complex, if you think about it.
The people of Nzulezu themselves operate on pretty much the same principle. Their community is small and isolated, and so they tend to do a lot together. They fish together, farm together, operate the community’s only transport canoe together, provide health and education for their children, and generally watch each other’s backs, because they really don’t expect anyone to come and do it for them.
It occurs to me that as a nation, there’s a lot we can learn from the people of Nzulezu. Their lives are far from perfect, but they are responsible for each other. They accomplish things by working together and don’t sit around blaming outsiders for their circumstances. Most importantly, they don’t turn on each other. They work together towards the same goal, just like the many skinny bamboo stilts holding up their community.
In our society, every single thing is turned into partisan politics. You wake up in the morning, your lights are off, and this is somehow a reason to start insulting a political party, either for causing the problem or for not solving it. You don’t have water, and some political party is to blame for this, not the pipelines that are over 100 years old, not the people who have built on waterways, making maintenance impossible. No. Why blame them when you can blame a party?
Your children are fighting for the right to cheat in WASSCE, and it’s not because they didn’t learn. it’s not even because the teachers didn’t teach them well. No, it’s because the wrong party is in power, or the previous administration didn’t do enough about education. The road to your house is costing you a fortune in shock absorbers, but you can’t have a constructive conversation about it without it turning into a “we built more roads than you” competition. Seriously, who cares? Will any of that point-scoring fill those potholes for you?
“Oh, in our time, we’ve recorded the lowest number of armed robberies” How is that supposed to make the poor mother who was robbed and raped at gunpoint in front of her children feel any better?
Everything that happens to us – from corruption to coronavirus, is blamed on politics, just so that politicians can use them as excuses to insult and incite violence against each other.
We so easily forget that we are all Ghanaians. We so easily forget that we all want the same thing: a better life. We all want our children to inherit a better nation. We all want better health, better education, better jobs, cheaper fuel, stable energy, a stronger currency, safer roads, better security, and perhaps, fewer boot-for-booting, all-die-be-die-ing, journalist-threatening, parliamentarian-slapping, private-militia-owning, female-supreme-court-judge-threatening, gunshot-at-registration-centre-firing politicians.
We all want the same things. So when will we start working together to achieve our common goals?
My people, we are all bamboo stalks, soaking in the water. The more of us there are standing side by side, shoulder to shoulder, the longer we can hold up our society. We don’t have to agree on everything all the time, but we have already agreed on one thing: that we all want Ghana to work. So let’s stand together, spread the weight, and hold our beloved country above the water.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and no matter who you are, if you love Ghana, then I’m on your side.
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