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Monrovia, Montserrado County, Liberia

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ghana Sleeps in Darkness



I walked up to a nearby Electricity Joint to reload my prepaid card which has no value but a piece of rubber. I met a throng of crowd gathered with the same fate. I quietly joined the queue. A woman playful pat the back of her little daughter and turned to face a different direction. The little girl turns and sees no one looking at her direction. “Aahh…wana?” she sighs. The mother tried this for another time but she was not successful as the girl quickly turned to catch her before she could tuck in her right hand. They giggled. She embraced her daughter. The laughter gained momentum.

Three men close by are talking about the recent energy crisis that Ghana has been thrown into. The younger among them blames Government for looking on while the facilities deteriorate bringing about “dum s)r” as he said. The older man who is in his forties lashed out at the young man for “your reckless comment. Why do you people like accusing this government as if it invented the crisis? The president met crises and he’s doing his best to resolve them.” The young man took two back steps slapped the air with his left hand. “Mahama is incompetent.” The old man draws closer impatiently. “I’ll slap you if you don’t take care. Stupid people! You’re always blaming the Government for no fault.” The veins on his face begin to gather. Sensing danger, the third man steps in to separate them. He holds the right hand of the old man which was swirling in the air only waiting to cut in on its prey. Other customers witnessing the scene draw closer to extinguish the flicker of anger among them.

Turn off the Light on Ghana
The young man tried unsuccessfully to shove off the middle man. “What will you do? You people are always defending this corrupt and useless government. We’ll vote them out in 2016”. This time, the old man’s eye balls get reddened. He is too strong to be stopped. He’s heavier and taller than the young man. It took the operator of the Electricity Joint to bring about peace. He restored peace after he threatens locking up the shop. Now the rest in the queue begin to plead for peace as no one wants to leave without now a rarer commodity in Ghana. As I stood in the queue, I remember what Ghana – once the pride of Africa, has been reduced to as a result of avid political rivalries and sycophancy among its very power players. The nation today represent the good and the ugly side of a nation on the precipice of self-destruction. The last time when the light came on after three days of lights out, I overheard occupants of the nearby house broke out into excitement shouting and thanking God. This is what one does when s/he gets light at least for a day in Ghana. You will find yourself thanking God and the president for being generous to you.

In the midst of the energy crisis in the country, it begs asking; if the citizens of Ghana are losing their rights and inheritance. And again, if democracy is a once off word or a daily practiced word in Ghana. Today, it’s a privilege to enjoy electricity for three days continuously. Many manufacturing companies have had to shut down and workers laid off due to the non-guaranteed nature of power supply in Ghana. The once buoyant and one of the fastest growing economies in the world is today in slivers.   

As the nation prepares for a general election in 2016, what will be the things Ghanaians will look out for in the occupant of the Flagstaff House? Will the mismanagement of the energy sector takes a center stage in their decision making? A guaranteed energy supply is a right, not a privilege as has become the case in the nation.