The local Hi-life song entitled WORK AND HAPPINESS was quite a hit at the onset of the Independence era some three score years or so ago. Its popularity was enhanced when it was adopted as a signature tune on the official Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) programme for mass mobilization. Thus, it assumed some political significance alongside its normal use at social functions.
At the weekends, most Dance Halls and Drinking Spots were filled to capacity. They put up musical programmes meant to help people relax after a week’s work commitments. The then only GBC/TV produced a show that featured its house Dance Band, for fans to enjoy live performances in its studios. A lot of people found jobs to do in both the public and private sectors and public morale was quite high. The refrain to the song began with the words ‘Work and Happiness’ and called on people (Ghanaians and other Africans) to do or contribute their best towards the building of a Beautiful Ghana.
The song seemed to tie in with the establishment of a chain of industries or factories, State Farms, shops, and the erstwhile Builders/Workers Brigade. A sizeable number of people imbibed the idea, directlyor indirectly, that whatever they did at their workplaces, on the farms and the markets, was important and counted in national growth. The song upheld the dignity of labour.
‘Work and Happiness’ remains evergreen because it hammers on an aspiration or issue that has relevance for all time, just as nation-building is an on-going process. The phrase ‘beautiful Ghana’ is a loaded concept but, sadly, it has hardly been taken beyond the surface.
WORK is an integral part of life. It involves what people usually do to earn some form of reward, wages, and salary, in cash or kind. It is an opportunity to use one’s skills and talents for some gains. Work comprises various activities in different domains at diverse locations, in the markets, workshops, farms and offices, educational institutions, hospitals, on the land, sea, rivers, lakes and in the air space. Where people work at occupations and disciplines they know best, and of their own choice, they derive a lot of happiness. That calls for serene environment, safe practices and, of course, satisfactory remunerations as well as security of tenure.
Whereas all entrepreneurs expect to make profits, the welfare of the workforce can sometimes be compromised. Even then, money, per se, may not be the ultimate or definitive objective to work. Where certain factors are taken into consideration, such as non-fiscal perquisites or incentives, workers are known to put in their maximum performance and respond positively to the institutional objectives, as their individual concerns are met.
When farmers and fishermen ‘do their best’, there is bound to be plenty of food on the market. So also do all other workers who diligently do their share of the tasks in their factories and offices, etc., contribute to the cash in-flows, where their motivation is high.
HAPPINESS is an evasive or slippery phenomenon. The condition of feeling or expressing pleasure, contentment and joy may vary from person to person. Serenity and feeling satisfied with one’s conditions are usually premised on diverse factors. A happy workforce will exhibit positive attributes including the tendency to work without grumbling, and with very little supervision. In a nutshell, a well-motivated worker is a conscientious, well-organized and dependable person who avoids waste.
Happiness derived from one’s work is usually consequent upon the assurance of money in the pocket at a given time, to be able to satisfy basic needs, namely, accommodation, food and clothing. For some, there is also the obligation of children’s education and care of other dependents.
BEAUTY, on the other hand, is a quality or an attribute of an object or action to be very attractive and pleasant to look at, or listen to. It implies responsibility, goodness, in thought, word and action. Thus, “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” who assesses what the other does. Just as a song may have two important elements, lyrics or words, and melody or tune, so also Beauty has a dual perspective, physical and non-physical or intangible dimensions.
Physical beauty or aesthetics is a fleeting phenomenon on account of change and deterioration. The beauty of a new building deteriorates with time when no steps are taken to maintain the structure. Inner beauty involves strength of character and willpower. Decent behaviour is as commendable as diligence in assigned tasks, integrity or honesty in dealing with others or assigned tasks. Doing what is right at the right time, and in the right place depicts a disciplined personality which attracts appreciation and commendation. Apostle Paul, in his Letter to the Philippians (chapter 4) gives a whole catalogue of admirable, acceptable behavioral patterns that enhance peaceful and harmonious relationships.
GHANA has recently turned 60 years as an independent Nation-State. Previously known as the Gold Coast, the country is endowed with numerous natural resources, assorted minerals, forest products and water bodies. The name is reminiscent of an ancient Empire in the sub-region which was very prosperous some centuries earlier. It is observed that our forebears migrated southwards from that vicinity. The characteristics of that historic Empire can be associated with our heritage in terms of rich natural resources, cultural endowments including traces of language patterns.
A nostalgic look back on the past 60 years exposes some painful observations. Numerical statistics may not necessarily be reliable indices of advancement in certain aspects. The population has multiplied several folds, from about five million at Independence to approximately twenty-five million currently. It has been a generally checkered history and the plusses, unfortunately, seem to be few.
As a nation we have wiped away, and continue to waste, some of the essential resources we inherited at independence. We need to accept the fact that we have been bad managers, custodians or stewards of our environment. The plush forests are virtually gone and the rivers polluted by inconsiderate gold diggers. The lands in some areas have been rendered unusable for growing the basic staple food items we need for survival. People in various places have to cope with supplies from beyond their jurisdictions and the resultant exorbitant prices and hardships.
The notion of ‘Independence’ seems to have been misinterpreted for ‘Indiscipline’, such that lawlessness has gained an upper hand in many of our attitudes and activities. As a result, filth has engulfed us which brings in its train diseases and flooding at the least incidence of rains.
Sometimes one wonders why there is so much chaos in many respects and that the laws seem not to work as they should, in some cases. People have remarked that Ghanaians are ungovernable, in situations where the system is apparently not on top of situations, as desired.
The catalogue of objectionable behaviours is quite vast, including and not limited to the following:
- Total disregard for Motor Traffic Regulations by motorcyclists who jump the red light at intersections;
- Driving or riding against the traffic flow or direction, and driving on the aprons on main roads;
- Selling anywhere and everywhere, including pavements for pedestrians and cyclists;
- Drains are used as refuse dump sites; and breeding grounds for pests and pestilence;
- Noisy surroundings, unnecessary hooting of vehicle horns, loudspeaker use all over the place for diverse purposes;
- Willfully building in waterways;
- Assault on innocent people and use of brutal f
- Uncollected refuse made to become mountains orce;
- Poor culture of maintenance;
- Misuse of public property and funds;
- Taking the law into own hands, resulting in mob injustice, forced entry into Security areas including Police Stations and even Courts;
- Disregard for human dignity and blood-thirstiness (murdering others at the least provocation, if any, and for rituals);
- Get-rich-quick mentality leading to fraud and related malpractices;
- Disrespect for seniority, authority and elderly; etc., etc.
Our markets are flooded with smuggled goods, and our cocoa ends up in Côte d’Ivoire, due in part, to porous land borders and despite the operations of the Preventive Division of the Customs and Immigration Services at the Ports and other entry points. Items supposed to be banned, or listed as high risk goods or dangerous, sell conspicuously almost everywhere. Foreigners freely indulge in economic activities inconsistent with the status of their residence.
One of the things that remain beautiful for Ghana is our survival as a unified State, despite numerous internal squabbles over various issues, some trivial and insignificant. The relative peace notwithstanding, the trend has regrettably been downhill in many respects. The indebtedness of Ghana keeps escalating and over-reliance on external support to run our economy is enormous. We clamour for Self-Reliance while we import so indiscriminately, for instance, rice and bamboo tooth-picks from the Far East.
The popular cry for change is generally welcome. It should be made to be considered as a mere political gimmick or slogan. Rather, it should be deemed very relevant for all intents and purposes, starting from personal approaches to daily situations. We should demonstrate that there is genuine awareness of the abysmal scarified state of affairs that must be put right. Change cannot be imposed from above; it should start at personal or individual levels. Taking a leaf from the lead singer in the song, ‘Work and Happiness’. “…I will do my best, you will do your best...for beautiful Ghana…” we need to guarantee a healthy environment for our homes, workplaces, institutions and surroundings.
Beautiful Ghana is a ‘work-in-progress’. All facets of our National life are at stake. We need to tackle the task holistically, on all fronts, to restore Mother Ghana to its glorious past and aspire after a desirable future. Bad habits are difficult to break, much like restoring the landscape destroyed by illegal small-scale mining and deforestation. However, if our focus and persistence prevail, we can make reasonable headway. Our isolated commitments and contributions will add up to positively impact on the overall outlook of our common good and heritage, a Beautiful Ghana.