The science of burying one’s head deeply in the ground, of inviting blindness and deafness, of remaining mute when all ears are straining to hear your word. The art of killing dreams, opportunities, and aye, people too. The master of this particular trade? You, Chief Energizer. Yes, you. You get to claim responsibility for this ingenuity of a phenomenon. For taking the uninteresting, one-dimensional “light off” and turning it into this beauty of a beast. Dumsorlogy is to Ghana as Astronomy is to the Universe.
Yep, all you.
But where are my manners? Forgive me, I couldn’t exactly find my usual “Dear Mr. President” between opening this browser tab and signing on in the pitch darkness that has become Ghana, henceforth, Dumsorland.
Besides, I’m not exactly in the mood for pleasantries. Certainly not after reading that you (or the Dumsorland National Petroleum Company as you like to put it) are awarding $25,000 to each Shining Star who won silver in the just-ended Pangea Cup of Nations. Backtrack – didn’t we just borrow God-knows-how-much from the International Sika Fund to finance our debts?
Nana Ama was right:
“A win would have given us a false sense of importance and sent the government into believing (what the cool people describe as) their own ‘hype’ – that we are truly the best on this continent.”
Winning the Pangea Cup of Nations would have just dug us deeper into the gaping black hole that you have carved out for all of us. And let’s not forget the irony of the fact that we had to borrow, oops, buy electricity from the new Pangea football champions to watch our matches. We don’t deserve to win any titles any time soon. Our heads are still bloated from the first and last one we won — almost 60 years ago!
Maybe, just maybe, I would have fallen for your attempt to convince us that national funds have nothing to do with the rewards to be meted out to the Shining Stars – sidenote, whatever happened to a simple “thank you”? – until I found out about Rwanda and its utility-scale solar energy project; the first in East Pangea.
Yes, Land of a Thousand Hills again. Just as our attempt at a national sanitation day – which curiously gained traction after you met with their president – is a poor emulation of the well-structured monthly community service days, our so-called attempts at addressing the country’s energy crises are a laughing stock.
Quite simply, we are not serious. All of us. But most importantly, you are not serious, Mr. President. Or at least you don’t appear to be.
If you were, the word “austerity” would mean something to you. It would litter every public address you make. But – as far as I can tell – you might be too busy playing ostrich to even consider it. Allow me, in fact, allow Wikipedia (it’s that basic):
“In economics, austerity describes policies used by governments to reduce budget deficits during adverse economic conditions. These policies may include spending cuts, tax increases, or a mixture of the two. Austerity policies may be attempts to demonstrate governments’ fiscal discipline to their creditors and credit rating agencies by bringing revenues closer to expenditures; they may also be politically or ideologically driven.”
That, Mr. President, is what we should be doing, if we are a serious people. But we’ve already established that we aren’t.
Moving right along. Here’s how you and Dumsorlogy are wrecking havoc, just for the road:
Health. You and your Frankenstein of a beast are not only killing dreams, businesses, hopes, faith, you are also killing people. I recently visited my aunt and her new baby who is barely a month old. The poor girl must wish she were back in ocean-land; she can barely sleep or get a moment of peace. Why? Dumsorlogy amidst all the heat has resulted in heat rashes. I shudder to think of the number of actual deaths in Dumsorland’s hospitals, clinics and homes. Cue in: electrical fires.
Business Climate, Employment & Innovation. You recently created an initiative to support Dumsorlandian entrepreneurs and businesses. Well, I’m sure any young business man or woman can tell you that any money you give them today will probably go into buying a generator and feeding it fuel. They think they will do it for only a year-or so – or at most until the next election – but as we both know, Dumsorlogy is like the universe: it expands in lightyears (no pun intended); it’s not going anywhere soon. I have to hand it to you though, this is beyond genius – investing in businesses to ramp up your public appeal among youth and entrepreneurs, all the while sucking the life out of them through this never-ending black hole. Simply genius. Thanks to you, I have come to understand, after all these years, what “menu costs” truly means.
Health. Again. A close relative of mine also had a health emergency recently and was rushed to 37 military hospital. Who did he meet? Dumsorlogy. The hospital had no electricity. He had to be rushed to two other hospitals before he could get the much needed oxygen bag. How many seconds can you go if you hold your breath, Mr. President? Add three years to that. At the very minimum that’s the length of time Dumsorlandians have been holding their breath, waiting for a breakthrough of some sorts. Got to hand it to you, we will be more than primed for the swimming/diving competitions at the next Olympics. Heck, we could swim with the sharks if we wanted to – tons of experience under our belts.
Education. Three of my siblings are final year students at the basic, secondary, and tertiary levels of education in Dumsorland. Their study cycle has become a game of “playing catch up” for all the lost hours that got caught up in the Dumsor vortex. It was hard enough for me when there was electricity (but no water -__-), how do you expect to build the future with all this? Oh wait, there’s no “future”. There’s only Dumsor, ever expanding in “light” years.
Reading that, you might have thought – oh she complains too much. And yes, I probably do. That’s partly the aim of this piece. To get this off my chest. And I wish I were exaggerating on all I wrote. I’m not.
But beyond that, I hope you will also see that solving or at least addressing the energy situation in a strategic manner is exactly what will address many of Dumsorland’s other challenges. It’s the lynchpin in our development debacle.
And so, the second aim of this piece is to let you know that people are waking up.
You probably thought the darkness would put them to sleep. Ha! You have forgotten how stubborn Dumsorlandians can be eh – ask the Shining Stars, they defied everyone’s poor support and expectations of them and made it to the final, didn’t they? So here are three suggestions that have come out of some casual conversations. Maybe they have some clout, maybe they don’t, maybe you have them lined up already, maybe you don’t. The point is, I hope you at least consider various options (and I don’t mean coal -__-). A multi-faceted problem requires a multi-faceted solution:
1. Tell the truth. Let the people know what the reality is, prepare them to tighten up their belts and prepare for the long journey ahead. We both know Dumsorlogy isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and especially not with our current (lack of an) approach. It’s all here (seriously, read it).
In fact, here’s a preview from page 13; click to enlargen. You might not have enough electricity to find and download the entire report:
2. When the human body is faced with a potentially dangerous/life-threatening situation, the human brain shuts down non-essential services (like producing saliva) and diverts all the attention to essential services (like sharpened senses, more active cardio-vascular (heart-beat) and respiratory (breathing) systems). In scientific terms, it’s an adrenaline rush. In layman terms, it’s time for fight or flight.
Chief Energizer, where wona adrenaline rush dey? We might have little choice between fighting or fleeing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a page from the human body which, in all honestly, is the best stroke of genius to ever exist – no shade at your dumsorlogy. So what to do?
Divert electricity to essential services like health care. Designate at least one major hospital in each city or regional capital as the “hub” and ensure that Dumsorlogy never reaches its borders. Designate 5-6 hospitals or clinics as “feeder health centers” and ensure they have generators so the “hub” won’t be overwhelmed. That way people can rest assured that they have at least one hospital in their region where they can be assured of constant electricity and health care and at least 5 or 6 that can provide basic essential care. Repeat for other essential services.
3. The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has been signed. Make the most of a possibly bungled decision by encouraging European trade partners to take advantage of lower/zero taxes to import technology and equipment, specifically related to generating solar energy, into Dumsorland. Require that such companies train a certain percentage of Dumsorlandians – preferably youth graduates/young professionals so that skill base has a long-life to serve the country. Encourage local entrepreneurs to also import similar technologies, sell and install solar panels for all government buildings, essential service buildings, and new buildings (at the very minimum). Offer them tax breaks as an incentive. Offer rebates to ordinary Dumsorlandians who would like to install solar panels in their homes. The inital costs are what put people off, but apparently it pays off in the long-term (more like we don’t really have a choice). Do all this, and maybe, just maybe, these tempting offers will numb the fallout from outcompeting our agricultural producers.
This took me 42 minutes to write and publish; in Dumsorland, it would have probably taken 42 hours.
I’m not as incensed as I initially was. Who said writing wasn’t cathartic? You should try it sometime Mr. President. It might help clear your head and maybe even get you out of ostrich mode long enough to see what the real situation is, how the inaction is killing Ghana and Ghanaians (present and future), and maybe, just maybe, what needs to be done.
With all due respect,
P.S. I’m well-aware that you alone do not make up Dumsorland, and that all of us – in our own small way – have contributed to this Frankenstein that is Dumsorlogy. But as I have said in the past, it’s your name on the books – not your cabinet, not the opposition, not the average Ghanaian. You. And so everything that happens under your stewardship will be attributed to you, first. As they say, it’s comes with the territory. Best of luck!
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.