The association of Akyem Abuakwa nationals in London to which I belong is called 5usu Biribi (Think About Something Positive). It is one of the most ardently loyal Akyem Abuakwa institutions that I know of. So when it heard that the King of Akyem Abuakwa, the Okyenhene Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, had come to London, it sent a delegation to go and "interact" with him. Those of our countrymen who do not quite understand chieftaincy often marvel at the "fuss" they think we make over our chiefs. But what they probably don't fully realise, maybe because they were brought up in different circumstances, is that if you are raised in any decent town in Ghana, like my hometown Asiakwa, everything revolves around the chief.
When it is necessary to go and clear weeds off the paths we use to go to our farms, it is the chief who orders dawuro [gongong] to be beaten to announce that the task is on. And our most exciting days--at the Ohum or Odwira Festivals, for instance-reached a climax when the chief sat in his palanquin and was carried in the streets of our town. As he passed by and everyone hailed him, one got a sense of community that could not be duplicated by anything else. A football match, for instance, was more exciting all right. But you took sides and supported one team against the other. At a traditional festival, you were one with everybody.
Our audience with Osagyefuo was freewheeling and conducted in an absolutely comfortable atmosphere, for the Osagyefuo was totally unpretentious. Some of the ideas that emerged from our discussions were:
(1) Why is it that the Ghana government, which is full of very intelligent people, allows itself to do things like building a road in sections, with good parts at each end, whist the middle is as rotten as could be? Look at the Accra-Kumasi road, for example. There are good parts from Accra to Nsawam; then very bad parts between Nsawam and suhum, and then, nearer to Kumasi some very good parts once again. Driving on a good road, with the adrenaline flowing, and changing suddenly into a slow crawl, during which one has to deftly dodge deep potholes, adds to the strain of driving, forces one to lose concentration, and contributes immensely to accidents. Especially at night, where crisscrossing the road to avoid the bad parts can cause one's lights to blind drivers on the wrong side.
Our country is 51 years old and we can't allow ourselves to have a motorway of a mere 180 miles or so, between its two most important towns, Accra and Kumasl? Even the "good parts"-why are they not divided into proper, barrier-sectioned, two-three lane motorways, where vehicles going in one direction cannot meet other vehicles going in the opposite direction and collide headlong with them? Why don't we have hard shoulders where broken-down vehicles can be parked to prevent other vehicles running into their backs, as so often happens on our roads, with horrendous fatalities resulting from them?
We are constantly hearing of collisions in which tens of people die. Doesn't that tell us something? Or do we think it is the gods punishing us? How can a people's government, of the type that the NPP is supposed to represent, undertake development projects that only serve to kill the very people the government has sworn to serve? It is an example of what is called disconnect. And it is shameful beyond words. Even our president, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, was nearly killed in a road accident some months ago! And the president before him, Flt-Lt Jerry John Rawlings, too! Yet. .. (2) Do our road builders take the social and commercial aspects of life into consideration when they plan our new roads? Look at the Apedwa-Nkawkaw section of the Accra-Kumasi road. Because it has bypassed important economic centres like Amanfrom, Odumase and, of course, Kyebi, Apapam, Tetteh, Sadwumase and Asiakwa, the foodstuff traders in those areas have been deprived of their lucrative business. …