Five years ago when US President Barack Obama visited Ghana, a caller into a talk show discussing the visit had a contribution to make. This gentleman wanted to know what the US President would do about the choked gutters in his community because they breed mosquitoes.
Since the caller spoke in a local language, it is assumed that perhaps this person is uneducated.
Incidentally, last week, this call was repeated by political activist, Dr. Sekou Nkrumah when he suggested that President John Mahama must start leading the way in cleaning the drains in the country because the deplorable sanitation in the capital and across the country has become a crises.
The son of Ghana’s first President averred that he was not asking for a symbolic move by the President in cleaning the filth but rather a pragmatic move to demonstrate that he is ready to lead by example.
Sekou Nkrumah’s call is not only trite but illogical because even people living in countries where law and order is completely broken down and where leadership is none existent, they still know keeping their environment clean is their responsibility.
Should it take a photograph of President Mahama holding a broom and pick fork and standing in a filthy choked gutter for Ghanaians to realize sanitation is a personal and collective responsibility?
Clearly, Sekou Nkrumah is one of such Ghanaians who believe it is not incumbent on them to do anything to keep their environs clean unless the President participates in a cleanup exercise.
How much of the trash composed of pure water sachets, polythene bags, leftover of wide varieties of food among others that have filled the drains in one community or the other were generated from the home of the President? How many of the materials that have left the country so filthy arrived from another planet?
All the filth we complain about is generated in homes but end up in the gutters simply because people fail to be responsible.
Does it require the President to be seen sweeping or disilting choked gutters before Ghanaians live up to their responsibilities?
It is such irresponsibility and the tendency to believe that the filthy gutters running in front of our homes are the responsibilities of others that has gotten us to this situation in the first place.
Instead of calling on President Mahama to show leadership by taking a lead in the cleaning of the filth, Sekou Nkrumah should have simply urged Ghanaians to live up to their responsibilities by keeping their environments clean, after all cleaning houses and choked gutters in-front of our homes is a private matter.
And long before people started voting for individuals to be their leaders, they still kept their houses and neighborhoods clean, so what has changed?
It is amazing how some have such very short memories, Didn’t ex-President Jerry Rawlings used to initiate cleanup exercises and followed these exercises with action by entering the drains to clean them personally?
How were his efforts recognized? Was he not accused of taking the Presidency of the country into the gutters?
President Mahama does not need to direct Ghanaians to dedicate certain weekends to cleaning their houses because our homes should be kept clean every day anyway and not only on dedicated weekends.
People who wish want to keep their houses and neighborhoods filthy simply to make the president unpopular must remember John Mahama will serve hie term and go but the filth they accumulate would continue to exist and serve as breeding places for germs and bacteria.