Monday, December 13, 2010

Ghana

I have spent a week in Ghana. There are differences and similarities between Ghana and Zimbabwe. Let’s start with the differences. Electricity flows most of the time. We experienced one power cut which lasted less than 15 minutes. The main roads are in excellent condition, but they run through every little village there is between Accra and Tarkwa – a 7 hour journey. And there are dozens of little villages. As one approaches there is a speed limit of 50 k’s an hour which everyone obeys – probably because there are policemen with speed guns in 9 out of 10 of the villages. The off-roads some of which we took to ‘save time’ are in a shocking state but to be fair, it rains every day in Ghana – well – on the coastal belt where we travelled – not just light showers either. Off the road and outside the villages is mainly jungle. But we did pass several rubber and coconut plantations.

The people are friendly, polite, respectful but not deferential. There is evidence everywhere of racial tolerance and the blacks and whites that I met seemed to get on very well with each other. One could these days say much the same of Zimbabwe until ZANU PF enters the picture.

At the mine, people I met were God fearing Christians who give thanks to their maker several times a day. The supervisors who had recently completed training were enthusiastic, energetic, confident and able. They understand the concept of business and profit. I would be very surprised to hear that the mine-workers in Ghana had gone on strike like their counterparts in South Africa. It would be against their personal code of conduct.

The mine has plenty of facilities for the 4,000 odd people that work there. There is a clubhouse, tennis courts, squash courts, gymnasium, swimming pool and well-manicured golf course yet no-one seems to use them. I wanted to swim and discovered that before I was allowed to swim I had to take a ‘swimming test’ which comprised swimming two lengths of the 20 metre pool, treading water for two minutes and recovering the licencers keys from the bottom of the 10 foot deep pool. After I had completed the tests successfully I was awarded a ‘Certificate of Competency’. There was a security guard at the pool who demanded to see my ‘licence’ before I was allowed in.

I listened briefly to two radio broadcasts from the Ghanaian Parliament. I heard members of the ruling party and the opposition exchanging banter, with plenty of good humour mixed with serious debate. Unlike Zimbabwe where the parliamentarians exchange insults.

There is hope for Africa yet.

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