What will tomorrow say about our today?
…Restructuring our thoughts and leaving a lasting legacy for the next generation
On Sunday, 5th March, 2023, I received an invitation to speak to the students of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) in the city of Ho, the capital of Volta Region. The university, with three different campuses in Ho, is one of the most serene locations for academic work, especially for science courses such as medicine, nursing, physician assistantship, biochemistry, medical laboratory, etc.
I was glad to have responded to this great invitation, particularly as it was a preliminary occasion to the celebration of our country’s 66th Independence Day. The university’s hall was full to capacity, with the prognosis indicating that the students were hungry for the long-awaited answers to most of their questions. After my speech, a thought ran through my mind: ‘What will tomorrow say about our present lives?’ I reasoned as such. Life should be lived with a purpose, calculated by time, and our impact, suitably executed by wisdom. The question on heritage must be on our minds as we journey through the length and breadth of our world. Life without any meaningful legacy is worthless living. This question – What will tomorrow say about our present lives? – properly fits into the celebration of Ghana’s 66th Independence Day on the theme ‘Our Unity, Our Strength, Our Purpose’. As a nationalist, I’m of the opinion that in order to make our country better, a holistic commitment to a national discourse should be examined in fast-forwarding our heritage. Here are two areas for our concentration:
Raising more quick-witted entrepreneurs
In a capitalistic system, everybody’s skills, creativity and ingenuity should be of higher concern to the government. Our financial system must be more flexible for credible entrepreneurs to easily access loans for the expansion of their productions. The Bank of Ghana should evaluate the impact of higher interest rate on the economy and devise means of bringing interest rates on loans to the barest minimum. In certain jurisdictions, interest on loans is very negligible, making it possible for reliable entrepreneurs to access loan facilities from the banks. Countries, like China, have raised millionaires within a shorter time. This is made possible because the economic system is quite flexible to business men.
Malaysia, our contemporary in terms of independence from colonial rule, has a more vibrant economy than ours. Rwanda, which only became a stronger economy a few years ago, is a force to reckon with in terms of socio-economic development. The time has come for Ghana to be set on a higher plinth or base of socio-economic development. In a country where a sizeable number of citizens are millionaires, their investments in manufacturing of goods and services create more jobs for the local people whose commitment to tax payment helps increase the Gross Domestic Product of the country. When money is in the hands of a select few, it creates jealousy and wariness. On the contrary, where the system is more flexible for an average person to make it, the rate of crime, misconduct or corrupt practices dwindles.
Building a comprehensive legacy at our workplace
A few years ago, I attended the end-of-service formality of an excellent corporate executive, whose impact has been so phenomenal. At the ceremony, I met a lot of people from different persuasions. From academia, corporate body, security service, chiefs, institutional heads, politicians, among others. While on my seat, I quietly asked myself a simple question: ‘Why are all these people here?’
‘Why should people travel, far and near to witness the send-off service of such an investment banker? Why should people willingly offer so much in cash and in kind to such a person?’ I reasoned as such. What even intrigued me was the synchronisation of all the fraternity messages given by politicians, chiefs, staff of the bank, and other stakeholders. Almost everyone’s testimony about the person looked properly-interwoven, pointing to the person’s dedication to human development, sense of love, commitment to task accomplishment, care and respect for people and finally, her sense of patriotism. That is what legacy is all about. What will you be remembered for at your workplace, long after your departure? Give it a contemplative thought.
‘People are people,’ says an old proverb. The seed you sow in the hearts of people is what you shall be remembered for. One day, if you are going on a transfer, or switching to a different profession or, possibly, going on superannuation or retirement, what shall you be remembered for? Selah – pause and think about this!
What would your colleagues, friends, line-managers and your fellow workers say about you? A kind or an unkind person? A selfless or selfish person? A person who divided his friends and workers through selective justice? Will you be remembered as a man of justice and fairness? What shall people remember you for? A focused person, a visionary person, a kind-hearted person, a ‘neutraliser’ or an indecisive person whose thoughts were coerced by other self-centred people with their self-opinionated agenda?
One day, one politician said: “When you lose elections, it sounds like a heartache”. He continued to say: “Upon inner reflection, the decisions you took while in office shall stare at you right in the face – whether good or bad”. He continued to say: “How you handled issues at the constituency and national levels will knock at your door? How you mismanaged the feelings of your people will be your ‘pillow’, and how you rejected professional advice from well-meaning people shall be ringing in your ears while in opposition”. These have always been my thoughts – to peaceably dwell with people, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or culture. No one knows of tomorrow’s event.
Additionally, one senior citizen said: “Life after retirement isn’t the same as in-service engagement. The people you mistreated will become greater, and at that time, you shall be calling for their services but they shall be out of coverage area. Those you vilified, denigrated, and maligned for your egotistic gains shall expose you to the microcosm or miniature copy of life”.
Wittily enough, life has a hysterical turn. What goes around comes around. Life has a way of changing hands. We should, therefore, weigh the mode we use in handling people. Of course, you cannot please everyone in life, no matter how hard you try. However, there are basic elements of brotherliness that bind people together. The elements of respect through our choice of words, staying truthful, and enthusiastically loving humanity should guide our steps.
Every hidden agenda under the carpet which is against the total will of the masses is under the lens of sight – highly observed by all. Do you know why people leave a specific jurisdiction and still manoeuvre to get back to socialise with others? It is called the law of brotherliness of cohesion. Every sociologist understands that the law of bonding that brings the low class and upper class together is the prerequisite tool for a progressive society.
Add a few years to your present age, if you are a public servant, you can determine when you shall be going on pension. That wise addition alone shall make you sit up to properly reason with people.
One retired person once said: “The retirement phase is a flash of either happiness or sadness”. In addition, she said: “It is the period of regret. On the other hand, it is a period of joy”. She continued by saying that “the period of happiness is achieved by the constant comradeship with the right people you engaged with in the course of your duty. It is also a moment of regret because of the numerous mistakes and the pride one exhibited during his or her tenure of office. This thought alone will continue to hunt you till you enter the graveyard”. Wow. I took a great lesson from her advice.
Another wise man also said: “Others are enjoying the fruit of their labour at their retirement stage while others are restricted to the walls of their apartment as the sound from the early rising birds reminds them of their poor choices while in active service”. Today, let’s a make positive impact. Let’s make a few changes in our lives. The year 2023 is still in its embryonic stage and we can make a few changes.
Legacy? It is more important than money and pride! One’s footprint in the sand of destiny is the magnetic force that drives a person closer to make intelligent choices today. One day, we shall not be remembered for the school we attended, or the grades or ratings we had or the money we accumulated while working. Conversely, our words and total deeds shall be the footprints in the sand of destiny. Thus, make quick changes. Be truthful. Avoid that lifestyle that coils like a serpent – deceitful gains and duplicitous appearance. Take away hatred from your heart and live in peace, but not in pieces. Life is relevant. Love life and treat people like yourself.
The development of this country depends on every citizen. It does not depend on any foreigner but ourselves. Let’s do the little we can to make our nation stronger and stronger. Let’s be patriotic enough. The massive development of all emerging economies, like Rwanda, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, China, among others, started from a change of mindset from their own people. The cleanliness of this country largely depends on us, and not necessarily the sitting president. We should stop littering around and direct refuse to the right wastebaskets. Obeying traffic regulations depends on us. We should train ourselves to avoid urinating at public places. The decision to make our lives better rests on us.
Permit me to whittle a section of the president’s inaugural speech at his swearing-in on Thursday, 7th January, 2021: “I invite all of you to join in the exciting business of developing our country. There are endless opportunities if we remain united. What our forebears dreamt of, we will achieve! If we inherited dreams and visions from our founding fathers, we should leave a legacy of achievements and realities to our children and their children. For, I believe in the limitless prospects of Ghana and of us, her people”. Drawing from the president’s speech in 2021, the ball is now in our court. We have a duty to soar higher in making Ghana the beacon of hope for Africa and across the nations of the world. Thus, do what you can to make yourself a proud Ghanaian.
The writer is an Academic, Visiting Lecturer, Leadership Consultant and a Reverend Minister with the WordSprings City Church, Kumasi-Ghana.