In barely 48 hours after fire razed down several stores worth of goods, victims of last Sunday’s disaster came up with an informal, raw set of solution to their plight. They didn’t need any committee or communiqué and certainly no assessment or feasibility report. Their two-forked approach was this: 1. Occupy Kantamanto for as long as possible 2. Rebuild the market themselves without recourse to government.
True, the Police are doing their professional best to contain the situation but this stone-throwing “Occupy Kantamanto” movement through their sporadic resistance should send shivers down the spine of the powers that be if things are put within a larger perspective.
Simple question: why do we need government? Simple answer: To do the things we can’t do ourselves. I can’t build a road from Tema to Accra so I need government.
I can’t defend myself and my family against any possible alien invasion so we need government to set up an army. I can’t set up a hydro-dam in my back yard so we get government to build Akosombo and Bui dams. Government takes from everybody to do what nobody can singularly do.
I can’t build a market where I buy things (from shito to shovel) so government comes in...or can I?
In a very rare turn,56 years after independence, 21 years into the fourth republican democracy, some people are actually beginning to think they don’t need government – they will build a market themselves.
The last time I heard of any group of commoners attempting to build anything skywards, it was the biblical tower of Babel. While matching that feat is not an objective, residents at Kantamanto have shown by the mere utterance, the seemingly uncoordinated desire, the limp assertion that something is changing within the average Ghanaian – something fundamental – something appears broken in their belief in government – A deficit of trust.
They are not alone. NAGRAT, GNAT,GMA have all insisted at various times that returning to their classrooms or theatre rooms is contingent on a written and signed document – No oral tradition of pledges will do. And as the GMA has shown even an MoU may not be enough. The Ghanaian penchant for defiance is growing like a baby. And real naivety is in thinking that this started in 2013 - or 20-anything for that matter.
A deficit of trust occurs when a people “lose confidence and trust in their politicians and start to make their own contingency plans,” writes Andre Wilkens.
It means getting to a stage where people don’t care anymore. They don’t believe anymore. It is the political sperm needed to fertilise an embryo of nonchalance. Press down, shaking together, running over – and you have nihilistic society.
One of the things that we may have glossed over is that though the foundation of our democracy is that people should have their say, having your say is never enough.
Nobody sleeps on a foundation. People sleep under roofs. Nobody gets full after voting. People get full after eating.
Nobody gets satisfied by speaking but that their speech will be heard – and expectations will be met.
When the process of constructing this democracy, from building a foundation to roofing, stagnates; when a committee report counts for nothing on the scale of public trust,you will be gradually creating scenes and sketches like the Occupy Kantamanto movement.
Then traders throw off their expectations from government,begin to dream overnight and dare in the afternoon about building a market themselves.
And in rare, seemingly uncoordinated fashion, their chats turns to chants, “Yes we can!” “Yes we can!”.