The leader can never close the gap between himself and the group. If he does, he is no longer what he must be. He must walk a tightrope between the consent he must win and the control he must exert. ~ Vince Lombardi
On the 21st September, 2011, Former president of Ghana, John Kufuor led a high-powered delegation that included Former South African President and the former chancellor of Germany to a youth leadership conference on KNUST campus and to cut sod for his leadership museum project. It is very interesting how this program coincided with the celebration of the life of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Whilst waiting for the arrival of the former president and his entourage, the participants engaged in a discussion on the best instruments that can be employed to help accelerate our developmental agenda as a country. Two key points that came up were sanctions and re-orientation. One group of people believes indiscipline is the major setback to our development. They therefore are of the view that sanction can be used to curb indiscipline and thereby creating a smooth pipeline for free flow of our developmental agenda. Another school of thought argued for the case of re-orientation. During the conference itself, the former Germany chancellor posited the need to give citizens a lot of freedom. To him that will help the nation to develop. He however emphasized the need to make and enforce effective laws to govern and protect the state as well.
Freedom, sanctions and re-orientation came up on Dr. Nkrumah’s birthday as the keys to unlocking our doors to the golden gates of development. The make of these three keys, as I choose to call them however calls for some head scratching and deep thinking. Freedom and sanctions for instance are neither siblings nor lovers. Re-orientation however can go alongside any of the other two easily. It is however an undeniable fact that if we really want to get to where Dr. Nkrumah envisioned Ghana and the whole black race to be, we need to take a second careful look at the use of freedom, sanctions and re-orientation. For these keys to be very useful development reactors, we must learn the act of tightrope walking as individuals, as groups and as a state.
A free environment gives room to the exploration of great minds. Freedom is therefore essential to building a strong and well-developed society. Freedom of speech in its right practice for instance encourages and builds self-confidence in individuals. Self confident individuals build a confident state. When the state gives enough room to people and businesses to explore a lot of avenues, it will lessen the burden on the state itself and lubricate the wheels of the development vehicle. That is the kind of freedom I am pointing to. Freedom that will enable our educational system run free with visionary ideas, not unnecessary and cheap political goal scoring controls. Freedom that will make our businesses prosper irrespective of one’s political or ethnic inclinations. Freedom that will make our youth speak what is on their mind with decency. Great ideas get killed not only in the minds of our youth but also in their mouths. The ideas force their way into the mouth hoping to come out, only to be killed and sent back into the belly for silent burials. This is because of the very unfriendly nature older people in our part of the world stifle freedom of expression from the youth.
The presence of an atmosphere of freedom without its accompanying sanctions will be like a heavy left side on a tightrope. That surely makes it suicidal. Our society has gone down to the level where sanctions are seen as wickedness. It is disgraceful to the point that bad doers are glorified. If freedom will really serve its purpose of lubricating the wheels of the development vehicle, there must be the presence of effective laws; and not just effective laws but laws that are enforced to the letter. When one visits the cities of Europe, you dare not drop a litter. What can be said of our own case? We think its normal and if someone should be punished for that, then the law is not a good one.
We must be able to use freedom proportionally with sanctions in order to progress. When sanctions are implemented very well, it helps avoid a lot of things that would have derailed the rate of development. Sanctions will in the first place deter people from doing things that are not permissible. That should be the prime objective of any sanction introduced into the society. Can someone figure out what the large sums of money spent on waste management can be used for? Not to talk of the billions of both foreign and local currencies that is embezzled every single day. When we are able to get our sanctions in place and very effective, together with the enjoyment of a large portion of freedom, then we can have a good balance on the tightrope.
A balanced figure on a tightrope does not guarantee a smooth and successful walk on it. A walk on it demands confidence and knowledge of tightrope walking. Since freedom has been stifled in various dimensions for long and our sanctions thrown into the gutters, it is very necessary for us to re-orient ourselves before we can move forward. The society has reached a point where all kinds of abhorring attitudes are accepted as the norm. Rigorous education is needed as a fuel just as freedom lubricates the wheels and sanctions serve as the breaking pedal. We need to re-orient ourselves as individuals; we need to re-orient ourselves as groups and we need to re-orient ourselves as states.
Many people have grown to see certain things as a norm because they came into this world to see everyone around them doing it. For freedom not to become a self-killing instrument instead; and for sanctions not to be seen as wickedness, re-orientation needs to be employed to help correct some of these erroneous perceptions. We also need to re-orient ourselves about the capability of the black man. The brain wash that the black man cannot do anything good has really damaged us for long. We need to repaint and redesign all these brains that have been washed down in this manner. We need to re-orient ourselves that when we put our hearts to something we can do it.
With the right balance of freedom and sanctions, laced with a good dose of re-orientation, the vehicle of development is sure to give our dear nation a good, smooth and accelerated ride to the world of development. Lets put our hearts and hands to it and we will do it.