Democratic Lawlessness

Today, i heard a story of a young lady who was crossing a zebra marking too slowly for a trotro driver’s liking. So he disembarked from his vehicle and attempted to beat her. Only in Ghana. Why is it that people can be so lawless in this country even when they are fully aware of the rules? Is it a failure on our parts or a failure of the system?

Why do people STILL toss out ice water sachets onto the road? Why do trotro drivers thrive on causing traffic violations? You’ll notice they dont apologize for stopping suddenly in the middle of the road, blocking traffic to pick up passengers. Meanwhile the Bus stop is right there in front of them?! It’s now common practice whenever there’s a traffic jam for drivers who obviously have more important places to go than we do, to drive on the sides of the road, forming a third lane where there are supposed to be only 2 and eventually causing even more traffic; and nobody does anything about it. The police themselves whiz by with their hazard lights. I am personally tired of having to drive behind people who are not aware that in this country, the inner lane is the Speed lane!! But this stupidity transcends just our roads… it seems that the notion of democracy that we have translates into The freedom to do or say anything you like. Damn the consequences. And that is the problem.

Ministers and government officials recklessly abuse power forgetting the fact that being democratically elected means you are accountable to the people! Doctors go on fatal strikes because we are in a Democracy and it’s their right. Lecturers put the future of this nation in peril each time they cease teaching and go on a Democratic strike. When the AMA proposed that cab drivers wear blue uniforms during CAN 2008 [a frankly unnecessary idea] one driver accosted him on TV talking about the fact that they would do no such thing because Ghana was a Democracy. The hawkers refused to get off the streets because we are a Democracy and they had rights. Every morning hundreds of callers call into radio talk shows and proceed to vent their strong, mostly unsubstantiated, groupthink based, sometimes libelous “views” all in the name of freedom of speech and Democracy. Only the Lord knows what will happen next in the name of Democracy. Freedom has been replaced by lawlessness. It makes me wonder whether this Democracy thing is the best way for us to be going; especially considering the state America is in now, where every little and seemingly simple decision making process is stalled by the fact that all groups want their rights taken into consideration. Gay rights, Animal rights, minority rights, majority rights, vegetable rights, this and that and the other! C’mon man. These guys have been at it for 200 years and even with a largely literate society they still dont seem to have gotten it right. When will we?

I think we need our own thing. Some have called it a Benevolent Dictatorship… whatever. But we need a system of rule where we follow a set of rigorously enforced rules regardless of our personal opinions or preferences. It’s hard to say this but until we grow as a nation in terms of our sensibilities, a lot of us will need to be coerced into action or penalized for inaction. Whichever comes first. The challenge will be defining the “greater good” [for me it would be a nation where people wont hoard tickets for the Ghana Music Awards and sell them for triple the price at the gates] and finding a leader who can be powerful enough to be both feared and respected by his people, [Should he be in military attire? i dont know] and selfless enough to allow the next leader to take power when his time is up. Once we can cross this hurdle, we will be well on our way to transforming this country.

Do you think if a few traffic violating trotro drivers were slapped around in public by military personnel they would continue to be such idiots on the road? Remember the incident at 37 where a few of them were infact slapped around much to public horror and outcry? well guess what, there’s no more traffic at that particular spot. Hmm…

It’s not about us, it’s about the greater good.
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