FEATURE: What Ghanaians missed in the comment on PhDs and Dutch passports

Monday, June 10 2023, started a fresh new week with a lot of prospects! However, the week gone by was particularly exciting and I’ll highlight the reasons.

For starters, I discovered that one of the widely sung worship tracks in the world was actually composed by a Ghanaian! For all the years we’ve been singing, ‘We bow down and worship Yahweh’, it never occurred to me that Kofi Karikari was the talent behind it.

Frankly, that revelation was stunning and I’ve told God to trend my interview with him, so Kofi gets his flowers. Indeed the last time I checked, close to 80,000 people had seen it on Facebook and I hope it travels further.

Another event that made my week was the Black Stars’ victory against Mali on Thursday. After a series of ugly defeats and draws, the team finally managed to put a smile on our faces, and that was another beautiful spectacle.

But none of these got my attention like the explosive comments of a certain janitor in the Netherlands! In a video that’s still viral, Kofigabs, popularly known as ‘Mr Happiness’, argued that it’s better to own a Dutch passport than to have a PhD from Ghana’s premier university, Legon.

In the one-minute video which has 11,000 views on my page alone, Kofi explained that his access to a Dutch passport gives him the ease of travelling the world; a privilege a PhD holder from Ghana may not enjoy.

Needless to say, his comments have triggered a lot of debates and an avalanche of opinions! While some have applauded his views, others appear indifferent. And many more are burning with red-hot anger.

According to his critics, his comments were reckless and can only come from the lips of a ‘daft envious soul’ who has a deep-seated hatred for folks with doctorate degrees. Others have even questioned his sanity for ‘disregarding’ PhD holders in Ghana!

The point, however, is that, are the insults justified and were Kofi’s comments truly misplaced? To answer this question, I’ll do to Kofigabs what I do to Kevin Taylor and Twene Jonas whenever they vent. My approach to these serial critics is that I ignore the vitriol in their opinions and nine out of ten, they always make sense!

Indeed, if you also take away the seeming ridicule and ‘disrespect’ in Kofi’s tone, you’ll arrive at the inevitable conclusion that the crux or focus of his message was not about the acquisition of Legon PhDs per se. But rather, a strong disquiet for the quality of life in Ghana and the prospects of the country’s educational system.

Like a typical lawyer’s assessment, the ‘spirit’ of his comments was more about Ghana’s development and less about locally acquired degrees. Having said this, the question now arises; how many Ghanaians will prefer to stay, live and work in Ghana, compared to taking abode in the Netherlands and other European countries?

Like my senior colleague, Manasseh Azure, stressed in his recent piece on the matter, hundreds of Ghanaians are yearning to flee the country in search of green pastures! If you doubt this, why are the embassies filled with droves queuing for visas?

If Ghana were a land of milk of honey, or at least had droplets of the same, would the urge to leave the country be so high? Point of correction; there’s milk and honey in Ghana. Except that, it’s in the keep of greedy politicians and their cronies alone. That if you’re not a friend of the system, you may not be happy.

Now let me use journalists to illustrate a point. Do you know that despite the high-end intellectual job of conducting interviews, filing reports, editing scripts, producing shows and hosting programmes, journalists are part of the poorly paid professionals in the country?

Indeed, the last report by the School of Communication Studies bemoaned the poor remuneration of journalists amongst other harsh factors. Reading the 101-page report from Legon is enough to discourage any fresh entrant who thinks that reading on TV or presenting on radio pays because truthfully, there’s no financial pleasure apart from the supposed popularity and ‘clout’.

Yet in other jurisdictions, journalists are not paupers! They’re not a bunch of fluid writers who make a living from attending press conferences and waiting to sign for ‘soli’ from dismissive aides of ministers.

The job pays well in other countries and I dare say if 90% of journalists in Ghana had the opportunity to travel and work in a country like Netherlands, they would all quit their newsrooms with the speed of light; starting from the author of this piece; MYSELF!

Apart from journalists, many other professionals will also jump at international openings without thinking twice! And that explains the massive brain drain we see for example in the health sector, and this is what Kofi actually meant when he said having a Dutch passport is more profitable than a Ghanaian PhD (a prestige job).

To treat his comment literally will be to miss the kernel of the issue; which is that Ghana is now a living hell and thus it’s better to pitch camps in other countries than to be hopeful in a country that looks sold to some deceptive politicians who can’t stop making promises.

Some of those who were angry even wished they were not in Ghana, but in a vain attempt to appear more patriotic than Kwame Nkrumah himself, they accosted the man and called him names in their sufferings.

Suffice it to say, that is not patriotism at all! Patriotism doesn’t mean defending the rots in your country and being agitated because your country’s identity is being shredded or ridiculed on the internet for valid reasons. That in my view, is sheer nationalistic exuberance!

If we’re truly angry at all, we must channel our disgust to calling for better policy reforms that will make sanitary pads more affordable and that will redeem national service allowances from debts.

Until then, a toilet cleaner, who has a better quality of life will be justified to mock anybody who wears a suit and tie, but has to queue to buy prepaid units and who sleeps in unannounced darkness like a slave!

And so in effect, I stand with the substance of Kofi’s comments and when next I pray to God, I’ll add a Dutch passport to my requests. But I’ll do this in a church that won’t ask for a ‘seed’ for God to bless me.

We shall visit that matter later but for now, Kofi spoke the truth! If you doubt it, check the value of the cedi and see if you’ll wave the Ghana flag high or not!

(The author of this piece is a writer, a journalist and a corporate MC twice nominated by the BBC for the Komla Dumor Award.

He’s acting News Editor at Christian-based Wesleyan TV, having worked with TV Africa and JoyNews in the past.) 

By Paa Kwesi Shandorf 

Source: myjoyonline.com


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