Chop box, coffin: Reflection on our innovative inclinations

The chop box is a sizeable wooden box that serves as a travelling case for boarding school students in Ghana. For decades, this wooden box has been of immense benefit to students in boarding schools across the country.

The coffin, on the other hand, is well known by everyone. The moment one sees it, what comes to mind is death.

Between these two wooden boxes, we can look at ourselves squarely and see where our priority lies when it comes to innovation, and also which areas of our society we expect to see improvement.

The chop box that our students carry along to boarding school has been with us for decades, even preceding independence. It is popular with secondary school students and their parents, and its general association with education in Ghana is never in doubt. No student who has ever attended a secondary school in Ghana has been without a chop box before.


Surprisingly, however, looking at its long association with education in Ghana, chop box has remained as it is for that long period of time without any change in its mode of manufacturing, outward looks, inner compartment, its security locker and usability.

The educated class in Ghana who have passed through secondary school, both young and old, will attest to the fact that the chop box has remained chop box as it is from time immemorial without any touch of innovation, style and comfort.

Another wooden box that stands in stark contrast to chop box is the coffin. Just like its counterpart, it is also a wooden box manufactured by carpenters.

Interestingly, the level of innovation and value addition the construction of coffins have seen over the years is so impressive and progressive.

How possible could it be that a product meant for helping in the feeding of the youth in educational institutions has remained as it is over a long period of time, while the one meant for the dead has impressive innovations with time?

Are there any parallels with the Ghanaian society?


Comparing ourselves with other countries, it is obvious that our society seems to lack a touch of innovation for progress and improved standards of living for all.

It shows in several aspects of our lives as Ghanaians. From schoolchildren seeking education, to working adults seeking livelihood, it is just a portrayal of people who face discomfort and hardship on a daily basis. Because of lack of innovation, we have denied ourselves the comfort and beauty our society deserves.

One area where our innovative instincts are more active is when it comes to the celebration of the dead and everything that has to do with funerals.

Funerals in Ghana have evolved from mourning events into joyous and comfortable events over the years.

That is because of the constant injection of innovation in the organisation of funerals. After all, what drives innovation, if it is not to bring comfort to people?

Living or dead

There is nothing wrong feeling comfortable at a funeral ground by enjoying the best of food and drinks and good entertainment, provided we give the respect and solemnity due the departed.

However, there is everything wrong if we neglect innovation in the areas of our life that matter most.

Areas like how innovative we are as ordinary Ghanaians in communities; how government officials come up with policies that address daily challenges, and how town and country planners come up with plans that address the aesthetic and sanitation difficulties of communities.

If we focus on ourselves as living people, more of our innovative inclinations will be directed towards areas that will ensure our progress and improved standards of living.

A condition that is necessary before we all die when our time is due.

The writer is the Director of Programmes, Institute of Current Affairs and Diplomacy (ICAD). E-mail: Lawmat2014@gmail.com

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