Wednesday, 13 January 2016


If the things we are exposed to during our formative years can make us prone to being corrupt, then what could be the remedy? Kodzo has an idea. Read on ...

The call to fight corruption has increased recently. Some claim corruption especially in public offices has increased. Others think it is only the perception of corruption that has heightened. Still, others think it is rather the efforts to expose and fight corruption that have increased. While we work hard towards disinfecting our generation of this marauding beast that is fast ravaging our society beyond repair with remedy options like radical action on the part of government to punish corrupt officials, enforcement of laws, building effective systems that help check organized systemic bypasses, etc., I intend to reflect here briefly on one remedy that I consider so fundamental to nipping this canker in the bud before it affects the generations to follow.

As a graduate with a degree in Psychology from the University of Ghana, I know the critical role nurture plays in defining or shaping the personality of the individual. Indeed, the behavioural psychologist, J.B. Watson once said, ‘’Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-informed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select - doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors’’. Watson’s view speaks volumes of the influence of the environment in which we all are nurtured. The books we read, the stories we listen to, the rhymes we sing, all play their roles in shaping our personality. With a dominant childhood hero like Ananse for some, it is not that surprising to see that the Ghanaian often manipulates systems to favour his or her selfish interests above the common good of all. 

Of course, while the story of Ananse or a reading of it might account very little, if at all it does, for the current status quo, it is undeniably emblematic of what stories we tell and whom we hold high as heroes for emulation. Again, these stories are part of a larger phenomenon of the worldviews we cultivate through what we read and expose a younger generation to. If we are to truly stem the tide of negative-other presentation that we as African people have been subjected to for far too long, then it is imperative that our self-presentations, through media such as our stories, be truly positive and geared towards the formation of positive values that reflect who we are and want our yet-to-be-born generations to be.

There is the need to look at our childhood heroes. Going forward, we should be considering integrating into the basic school curriculum such lessons that instill the spirit of patriotism, honesty, altruism and the moral courage to expose vices. This will help shape the thought patterns of our children and help mould them into great people. Instead of the Ananse folklores which we enjoyed, there could be more short stories that celebrate the lives of our people who had exhibited such virtues as patriotism, valour, honesty, altruism and hard work.

 In other cultures, there are childhood fictional heroes like Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, Superman, etc., who will always defend their country and work for the good of all. Admittedly, there are the villains too, but the positive stories told of patriotism, of valour and of sacrifice are admirable and are held up as models for young people to emulate. Ananse stories may have their place in the humorous and amusing trickery that are often conveyed. Who does not like the hilarity in there? At the same time, the subtle negative values of subterfuge and deceit could be counter-balanced with positive stories of heroes of our republic, of our cultures, and of our collective memories. Elsewhere, others tell their stories in the Mills and Boons romance tales. Indeed, we too must create our own fictional heroes and tell those stories that we know. A younger reading generation, raised on positive stories is critical to a future thinking generation of positive deeds. If we are to fail in creating and telling positive tales about ourselves, we could import stories of such fictional heroes that, in a way, reflect who we are and what our values are. That might at the very least be better than importing second hand sauce pans and cutlery sets. If the human resource base of any nation has the right mindset, the other resources will be well managed for the common good of all. 

Positive stories for a younger generation should be the bedrock for a decent, patriotic future people. 



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