The best decision I have ever made in my life is picking St. Peter’s Secondary School (PERSCO) as my first choice Secondary School in 2005. My greatest achievement in life is getting admission into my dream school. There’s nothing I can do in life that will make me prouder than I was when I first donned the Cream and Army Green uniform.
The US is currently dealing with a huge bribery scandal in school admission which gives me cause to be grateful to then President Kuffour and Hon. Osafo-Maafo (then Minister of Education, Youth and Sports). The Computerised School Selection and Placement System (a.k.a Computer System) was a major reason why I was able to get admission to PERSCO stress. That’s another story for another day, let me stay on topic.
I used to spend all my time at the St. Peter’s School Library. Those times were the most important times of my formative years. The books I read there, I mostly read books about writing and creativity, shaped my understanding of the world and the craft I love to practice.
In PERSCO, the school day started at 5am. The siren chimes for us to wake up and prepare for class. At 6am, the Morning Mass is held for Catholic students and anyone interested. At 6:30am, we have the Morning Assembly for all students. At the Assembly, we recited the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary. The Headmaster addresses us and we go to class. At 12noon, classes break for us to recite the Angelus. The Angelus involves at least three recitations of Hail Mary. We attend Evening Assembly at 9pm. There, we recite the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary again. There was a structured effort to impact students with the spirit of Catholicism. I still enjoy Catholic Masses till date because of that.
One thing was missing in a PERSCO student’s day and that is anything about Ghana. No time in the day do we sing the National Anthem or recite the National Pledge. I remember the National Anthem being sang in my beloved school only once and it was during the Ghana@50 celebration. So the most important times of my formative years, nothing was done to impact the spirit of patriotism and nationalism into me. How was I supposed to grow caring about Ghana?
Loving Ghana was not part of my socialisation. Socialisation is a deliberate act. Teaching people to be patriotic should be a deliberate act. The lack of deliberateness in our national socialisation process is why we have children who never learn enough about Ghana. They grow up to become adults who don’t care about the Republic. The adults’ lack of care is illustrated in their policies and decisions when they become leaders.
I studied Ghana Legal System in the first year of my law study. The first thing I was taught in Ghana Legal System class is the History of Ghana Legal System. Okay, the first thing is IRAC, which I never understood till the semester ended. History was second. We were taught that Ghana Legal System started with the Norman Conquest in England. We were taught how the English Common Law started and the how it was introduced to Ghana in 1844 with the signing of the Bond of 1844. The entire 100 years of the history of Ghana Legal System history is based on what the British wrote when they colonized us. Every single history lecture in my law class traces back to England. So you will study law for 5-7 years in Ghana and go away with the knowledge that the British were so great, they gave us every law we have. The English Common Law system followed the model of earlier civilisations but that is not mentioned in their history books. Why? Because the British had to teach your people to believe in themselves by teaching them what their ancestors created. The whitewashing of our history is another reason why Ghanaians are not patriotic. The stories of Ghanaians we created anything is erased from our history.
In Class 6, I had a teacher called Mr. Assiedu. He was one of the Ghanaians who traveled to Nigeria in the 70s. He remembered his time in Nigeria fondly. He shared stories about Nigeria with love and warmth, even the stories of “Ghana Must Go”. It was an adventure for him. Guess what my second favorite country in Africa is.
Mr Assiedu was also a poet. He made me love poetry. I was a story writer before I got into his class but I become a poet after I left. I started reciting poems on radio because he recommended me to the station. Mr. Assiedu was my idol. A Pan-African in his own way, he believed Christmas was not a Christian festival but a European one and European churches like the Catholic Church and Anglican Church are wrong in how they propagated Christianity to Africans. He was nevertheless a very stout Christian. My Christianity and idea of God is modelled after him. I was in his class for just a year but he had a lifelong impact on me.
The problem with Mr. Assiedu is, he loved his tribe above all else. He was from Ahafo Ano and spoke about his tribe with fondness. He was an Ahafo man first, Ghanaian second. I believe I would have been more patriotic if there was anything in our school curriculum to compel Mr. Assiedu to make me love Ghana.
Role models are important. People connect with people. People love people. People’s understanding of the world is through people. The most impactful marketing campaigns have been campaigns that sold people, not ideas. Steve Jobs is Apple and that was how Apple was sold to the world. South Africa has done a great job in selling their country to the world by selling Mandela. People from around the world go to South Africa, just because it is Mandela’s country. Drake had a highlife song, a music genre that originated from West Africa, on his More Life album called Madiba Riddim. He sang about voodoo on that song, something associated with West Africa, and he didn’t know any West African icon to honour with the title. I don’t blame him.
When I was in Class 5, me and my friends used to role play the United Nations in our Class. One of us, Ansere Afriyie, was the UN Secretary General and I was the President of a troublesome country, war-loving country. We will have mock UN meetings which will end in fights. We got those ideas from watching a Ghanaian, Kofi Annan, run the UN. We saw people a world leader as possibility because we had a Ghanaian role model who was running the world at the time. Another reason Ghanaians are not patriotic is a lack of role models.
Ghanaians are not patriotic because we don’t have a reason to. We don’t see other Ghanaians get celebrated for doing great things. We see our government trying to pass laws to erase our history instead of adding to it. We can celebrate the Big Six and the founding of the UGCC without government operatives going on radio to denigrate Dr. Nkrumah. We can make up simple one-liner titles for everybody who has ever done great things in his country to celebrate them. We can call J.B Danquah the Father of Democracy, call Dr. Busia, the Father of Fuck Courts (just kidding). Having Ghanaians to look up to is what we need, not tearing down Ghanaians.
I remember when Ghana won court case against Ivory Coast, the way the slay queens were jubilating on social media, over something we all didn’t understand (I understood it last week in my Law of the Sea class) tells me Ghanaians love Ghana. Every 6th March, social media is flooded with images of people in kente and the colours of the Ghanaian flag. It tells you our people love our country. It is up to us to harness that love into patriotism that affects every aspect of our lives.