Monday, 25 February 2013

Why our Leaders CAN’T Feel our Pain

You may have wondered often why our leaders do nothing about a problem which so obviously affects them too. Take Accra traffic: this being the nation’s capital it is home to everybody who falls into the “leader” category - from the President, the Vice President, MPs, the AMA boss, etc., yet despite its social and economic dislocations there is no urgent effort to fix this major urban problem. Now I know the answer. It is the same answer you have always thought it to be. I can confirm it. Our leaders CAN’T feel our pain.

Traveling to Accra from Cape Coast on Saturday, we hit the notorious Kasoa traffic several kilometres early – somewhere around the Breku area. Not only was the traffic itself moving at a snail’s pace, the situation was worsened by our usual lawlessness as drivers drove through the bush and any available space to get some advantage in reaching the Kasoa traffic lights. As I sat in my motionless car swearing at nobody in particular I saw in the rear-view mirror a convoy of heavy black 4 X 4 SUVs (which I have nicknamed “stealers steeds”) coming at top speed from behind. They all had their hazard lights flashing and horns blaring as they came crashing through the middle as if there was nothing to stop them. Indeed, nothing could.

In a split second a light flashed in my brain and inspiration dawned. I timed my move to perfection and joined the power-convoy just as the last Stealers Steed went by. I also switched my hazards and headlamps on and kept going as hard as my poor accelerator could be pressed without snapping. The masses of the people – probably the owners of these vehicles - looked on in  fear and awe from their traffic-stricken vehicles or on foot from the sidewalks as we swept by at the speed and recklessness to which Ghanaian officialdom feels ENTITLED. At that point I felt so powerful I could have sentenced someone to death with a mere stare. Power sweet!

In less than five minutes we had cleared several kilometres and thousands of stranded vehicles and arrived at the desired end which was the traffic lights intersection at Kasoa; it would have cost me at least two hours of my life if I had stayed in that woebegone traffic. At the traffic lights intersection I let the convoy go; to be honest I could not keep up the speed so they left me behind but I had achieved my objective. I noticed that a couple of policemen had stood at rigid attention, so I decided to get more information on the convoy they had probably just saluted. I respectfully beckoned a policeman and asked him if he knew who had just passed by so powerfully. He smiled sheepishly and said “I don’t know”, and looked away.

Like the policeman I also had not the foggiest idea whose power had driven that convoy at that speed because all the cars had tinted windows, which as I recall should not be permitted on our roads but in Ghana the rule of law allows the powerful to be above the law, innit? Is it possible that this was a convoy of drug dealers smashing their cargo through traffic? It is possible because in Ghana no one touches you if you look powerful.

More likely it was a political leader, possibly someone we have elected to office who was being so effectively shielded from our problems. Even if that person wished to know the problems the officials would make it impossible, although I suspect that the official must have been asleep. You would sleep too if you were being ferried so effectively against the forces of gravity.

As for me I have no regret joining the convoy but now I have tasted this enormous sense of power I am just wondering whether to try for minister, MP or DCE – they are all honourable and powerful!

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