I promise on my honour.
Honour? If my honour were a tree from which a ladder would be fashioned to carry my country out of the recess of third-worldness, how many rungs would it produce? Would my tree be so hollow, its wood so brittle, its sap so stale, its roots so unsteady that it wouldn’t be tree enough to provide wood for the ladder?
If my honour were the collateral on which my promise would rest as a guarantee for its realisation, would my honour have enough tensility, to bear the weight of my promise?
Is my honour only honourable in its spelling? Worn as a title, demanded as a right, upheld only in words, but its significance forgotten as everyday air.
Is my honour as black as the shining star in the flag, or is it the colour of the chameleon, changing to suit the demands of my environment?
Can I trust my honour to make me faithful and loyal to Ghana, my motherland?
When I pledge myself to the service of Ghana, how much of my heart do I reserve? Sitting on stools, offering a calabash of my strength to mother Ghana, when she visited my home within herself, looking inward at her proud son, was my strength offering half full or half empty? Or did I deceive myself that it was both half-full and half-empty, two halves coming together to make a whole…an all.
With all my strength and with all my heart.
I winced when Mother Ghana made me say it, like the back tire of a trotro had passed over my foot resting its weight a while to remind me of the worth of those words. That was a one-time feeling. Since then I have never winced saying it because anytime I repeat it, I pledge myself without remembering that I myself am the offering of my pledge, without remembering that it’s not my money, nor my first-born son, nor my farm I am offering. That rather, the pledge is of my whole being presented in a wrapper of integrity. It seems the repetition chisels away significance and renders the sacred pledge, mundane.
Our heritage was won for you and me through the blood and toil of our fathers, but when it was given to me as an heirloom to keep it safe and sheltered, I received it in hands wetted by the slime of corruption, avarice and selfishness so that even though I tried to hold it in high esteem like I promised, it slipped out of my hands crashing to pieces.
There was an H lying there, an E over here, an R-I-T far away and an A-G-E lying 60 years away, weeping, detached from progress and resting on the shoulders of lazy men, saying naked prayers to God. Prayers that were so unclothed that they were too shy to come out in the open to ascend to the Creator. Only if those sloths would back prayers with action, hard work, honesty, devotion, would their prayers not cower under leaves like Adam and Eve with the fruit in their stomachs.
So the good name of Ghana is left undefended and exposed. The good name of Ghana is 60 years buried, one year for each foot in layers of filth, poverty and disease. The good name of Ghana is far down, too far below, that it is melting at the core of the earth’s crust into something deformed, indistinguishable, distorted.
Confused by its own reflection, forgotten by its own memory and misplaced by its own right hand, our dear country needs a new naming ceremony. Not to give it a new name but to remind us of our identity. To remind us that within the very fabric of our culture are the treasures of dedication and devotion, sacrifice and selflessness, courage and commitment which we are to hold dear. To remind us that our songs, our stories, our lore are summed up in one word – love.
Then and only then will the Almighty possibly listen when we put our right hands on our hearts and pray: So help me God!
WRITER: Kwasi ‘Sei (firstname.lastname@example.org) – threesixtygh contributor