I Hope Duncan Williams Heard Mensa Otabil

I usually don’t like to take people on for expressing their opinions but when the opinions are ideas that affect my country, I am forced to comment on them.

Pastor Mensa Otabil is reported to have said in church that all-night vigil and prayer or anointing will not save the economy of Ghana. That our only salvation will be through proper and long term planning (Ghanaweb, March 16, 2014).

I don’t know why he was not bold enough to tell “Arch-Bishop” Duncan Williams that praying for the cedi will not increase its value relative to the currencies of other countries but through hard work of the government and people of Ghana. The value of a country’s currency is based on productivity and not on the will of God. The God that I know does not work that way.

I also know that all religions say that God created us in his image. That means we have the general image or attitude of a creator so we can create things we need. We have all the things in our body and on earth to make us fulfill our vision of being creators. We have brains, we have the environment, we have precedence (history) and we have each other to learn from. At the present time in the history of mankind we have the resources to be able to create or build comfortable life for ourselves and future generation. The whites in the West have done that and the Asians in the East are rapidly following suit. What is left is the Blackman in Africa.
I believe that the main reason why we are so far behind is because we have not even started to follow the rest of the world, because following means going the same or similar developmental path that has been so successful to them.

That path is planning – good old proper and long term planning. That is our bane – planning and seeing through our plans. There can never be food without sowing and reaping at the right season neither will there be education without many years in school, yet we seem to think that everything will be okay with us with ad hoc measures. All we do is sit down and do nothing and when we are hungry, go with a bowl in our hands to beg for food and everything including used clothing. WHY?

I have come to the realization that two main developments in Ghana have led to our present situation. The first is our churches and mode of worshipping God. They don’t bring out our creative spirit. Here in Ghana, we turn to think that the only way to succeed is to ask God for manna. It is not faith in action through hard work and planning. Fasting and persistent prayers will get us the answer we need. If the answer does not come, it is because “demons” have blocked it. In Ghana, prayer is warfare.

The churches imagine a world swarming with evil forces that attack your body, your family, your means of earning a living and your prosperity. So after many years of poverty and the manna not pouring down directly from heaven, we have resulted to exorcism and anointing to clear us of demons who are blocking our blessings. In America and Europe, evangelical Christianity emphasizes God’s mercy while in Ghana it emphasizes God’s judgment.

Unfortunately for us in Africa, our demons are other people. The witch or wizard in my family or my competitor at work or in the game. It is and has always been because somebody else is working against our success. I have read that Jesus cast away many demons but nowhere have I read about Jesus telling a sick person that the demon oppressing him is from somebody else. Our failure is and has never been from us – our attitude, and lack of perseverance, our work ethics and most importantly our lack of planning and following through our plans no matter how difficult it is but by evil machination of somebody else.

In the West, they exorcise their demons in their New Year resolutions. Resolving to be a better person, doing better planning and changing the way I do things – clearing the evil that is in me. Not in Ghana. Here it is not my fault, somebody is “doing” me. How do we change and be better when we don’t realize that the change we seek should start from us.

The real demons that need exorcism in our churches are our lack of education, laziness, lack of opportunities, our get rich quick attitude, our sense of entitlement, our drunkenness, our lazy work ethics, our irresponsibility as wives and husband and parents, our tribalism and wickedness and the greatest of all our lack of ambition, dreams and planning. In other words, our demons are not in other people but in our minds and behaviour.
This mentality is not only limited to the illiterate church goers but pervades every façade of our society including our political and governing systems. Every bad thing that happens in the country now is considered by the NPP as caused by President Mahama and his NDC government and the NDC thinks it was the result of NPP’s bad rule under former President Kuffour. Nobody wants to own up and we have made every day in the life of Ghana, a political campaign day to tear opponents down and to win votes.

It is and has all been about getting power but not developing Ghana. As a result, the two parties and their parliamentarians are engaged in political warfare of tearing each other down instead of planning together. Akuffo Addo has already started tearing down Mahama since he returned to Ghana all in preparation to gain power, and the President and his government want to go alone. The presidential campaign has begun. The season of the toilet has begun so we should all talk shit. No time to reason together.

Can you imagine that both the NPP and NDC want free universal education for Ghanaians but they cannot sit down to plan its implementation but fighting over who muted the idea first? All they need to compete for is not an idea acceptable to both sides but the ability to implement it well. Unfortunately for us, our church leaders have taken sides and deeply involved in the warfare directly or by insinuations and parliament is impotent and dysfunctional.
The last and most important part of our lack of planning is our electoral campaign system. What is the motivation for an ordinary parliamentarian to come up with or support bills and laws that will lead to long term planning of our economy and society? Nothing. Our political campaign system demands that they have to find the means to satisfy the daily needs of the electorates and foot soldiers at the expensive of good legislative process. It has become a burden and daily endeavour for most of them.

The system is such that the moment a politician is elected into parliament, he has to prepare for his/her re-election. There is the mentality that has been fueled by the behavior of some of our “Honourables” that parliament is the Kingdom of God that come with all good things, so naturally the electorates demand their share. Unfortunately, most of the development projects are done at the District Assembly level leaving the parliamentarians in desperate need to gain standing in the eyes of voters. If they fail, there is a long list of challengers to their throne and backbiting from opponents. Life as honourable has become a nightmare.

What we need is concerted effort through mobilization of all human and material resources to plan for our future. The criteria is not what political party or tribal group you belong to but what you bring to the table and every citizen has something to offer. Secondly, our leaders should be made to known that we expect them to lead not for today but towards our future so we will hold them individually and collectively responsible for our failure.

And thirdly, our Church and national leaders should not be selective in their criticism and advice. The church should serve as the center for mobilization of the will of the people and the blessing of God. It is time they left homosexuals and miniskirts alone and concentrate on the total welfare of the people both materially and spiritually.

Church leaders should lead the country in consistently holding the President, the government and parliament accountable for their stewardship in a proper and fair manner. The electorate should call for a revolution in how we do things and in our political system.

No society has prospered on “saraka” and aid from the rich. Development has been due to long term planning and good leadership. In the 15th century, Europe began long voyages of discovery. This voyages lead to the acquisition of lands and resource that has made the West what it is now.

The journeys were not done by only politicians but often times by missionaries who came to exchange the bible for our minds and resources.

The East has also embarked on a long journey of developmental programs and world partnership. They are all coming together. Already, the leadership of China has toured the world not to beg for aid but to seek partnership for their long term development. Check rich Europe, they have come together in partnership to form the European Union.

Africa’s development lies in cooperation and long term planning. Unfortunately our selfishness, lack of progressive consciousness and sheer stupidity on the part of some of our leaders are making things difficult for us. If Europe is coming together as a European Union, then the poor individual countries of Africa cannot go alone. We are poor and divided and waging war with each other and on our people. Such wretched small tribal groupings we call countries are individually not attractive for foreign investment. We need to heed the advice of Nkrumah and come together.

The last but not the least is the mental situation we find ourselves as a people. The people are in mental bondage and see nothing good about ourselves and our abilities. We only think that we can prosper only in association with the white man or when everybody in a household becomes born-again Christian. One great man once said that mental bondage is invisible violent and whatever controls our mind controls our actions. Until we get our minds in proper place, our plans will be based on foolish ideas and planning will be in vain. What we need is not the second coming of Jesus but that of Kwame Nkrumah.