Freedom is Corruption?

Every week in Ghana, the headlines spew out new incredulous accusations of corruption. It is millions of Ghana cedis disappearing, or millions of Ghana cedis disappearing BUT found out and STILL NOT being payed back, inflated contracts being awarded, and after the painful truth about the Ghanaian justice system, this week we got it black on white even educational institutions are not following procedure. On top of this mess – that on some level also is positive as the rot is being reported on – I find it shocking that with each new topic, people around me say “but of course, this is how it has been since when I was a young…”

How does one cope on a personal level with all of this?

I have to say: I don’t know. I think do not cope very well! I get so angry and disturbed I cannot focus on much else on many days. I tweet, blog, and rant. I make plans to leave, I take deep breaths, and I laugh about it all. I try to balance the impressions.

I say to myself: Ghana is a country that does not meddle so much with citizens lives, I can more or less build what ever I want anywhere, drive at whatever speed I prefer on whatever side of the road, do whatever I like whether a street party or a business venture. But then again, this freedom is not as fun as it sounds. Even to a Swede coming from a cold, almost excessively state controlled environment. Mostly, this freedom seems it is just a freedom to be corrupt? To walk on others to get ahead? To overcharge and connive? To say “but madam, who will catch you?”* To destroy and walk off?

In the Ghanaian blogging community we have discussed when a tipping point will come for Ghana, if at all. Is it more likely with each big reveal? Or is it less? I get royally annoyed with those around me who say things like “well, this is Ghana” or “lets pray over it” or  “It will never change” or “getting annoyed doesn’t solve anything”. But sometimes, I also understand. It all seems so big and nebulous, like a monster we have to learn to live with.

Ghana’s leading investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, recently urged journalists to do more with the freedom we have here in Ghana:

“I think that when you look at the press freedom index Ghana scores very high. Ghana is not a place where you speak and somebody will clamp down on your rights. But now the issue is not about the rights but rather what we the journalists ought to do with that right.”

It is somehow so ironic that we all admire Anas, troop in our thousands to watch his reveals, but then that is it. People are not inspired to join the lone man’s struggle with the dragon?

Recently, someone told me a story of how a relative was in trouble with the law and payed something to a person at the municipal court to walk free. The twist to the story was that person in power accepting a bribe to drop the case now holds a higher position in the national government. We all look on, we all know, but who acts?


*Migration officer in uniform told me this when I was not given a three-year residence permit without the right to work.

This post is part of my new series of more personal posts to be posted on Fridays, Personal Friday



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What I learned from the WACSI Social Media Conference

Wednesday and Thursday, West Africa Civil Society Institute, WACSI, had invited me and some of my fellow blogging colleagues to an international conference on the opportunities of social media.

Present were among others Nigerian online campaigners like Enough Is Enough, Ivorian sister organization to BloggingGhana, CIVBLOG, Buddy Media/Marketing Cloud a Ghanaian (branch of a?) company managing social media and especially Facebook pages around the world and Source Fabric, an interesting social media software organization, as well. Some prominent Tweeps like @spectraspeaks (Nigeria/US), @ZawadiN (Kenya), @mashanubian (Gambia/Senegal) @MacJordaN were also attending and of course GhanaDecides.

Out of the two days of conferencing, I could only attend one due to other obligations, but still walked away with plenty of inspiration and a few insights that I would like to share with you:

  1. The simplest way of starting a movement and getting people to connect is starting a hashtag – some relevant examples: for African feminists, #Afrifem, possibly #Afriblog for African bloggers and for Tema folk wanting to promote our city in the center of the world #Tema00. This method requires zero overhead, no funding and can have great impact.
  2. Crowd funding is the future. With webapplications connected to local banks, people can make donations using the Internet directly to organizations. EIENigeria uses 234give for instance and encourage people to pledge to contribute monthly to their activities.
  3. We are not alone. Sometimes, Ghana feels like an island, but with Internet (and a IRL conference once in a while), clearly it is not. Great things are happening in our neighbor countries – and in Ghana! –  and we just need to learn from eachother, adapt solutions to our environment and the inspire them right back! I have a feeling that especially EIE Nigeria and CIVBLOG will be great partners for BloggingGhana!

Thanks to the organizers for putting this fruitful meeting together. Next time, Adventurers in the Diaspora and Accra Dot Alt  should also be invited – Ghanaian social movements using social media!


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