Stockholm Syndrome: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson
4th Feb 2016
I read somewhere about a rather interesting condition. It was first identified in 1973, when some robbers took several bank employees hostage in Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm. The robbers kept their hostages in the bank vault for six days, while they negotiated with the police. During that time, the hostages became so attached to their captors that they rejected assistance from Government officials at one point, and defended their captors after their release. This inexplicable attachment to the very people who took away their freedom and put their lives in danger, came to be known internationally as “Stockholm Syndrome”.
These days, when I look around me, at some of the choices we are making as individuals and as a nation, I am tempted to conclude that many of us are suffering from the very same condition – we just don’t know it.
We know what our problem is o, but we have let our problems grow unchecked for so long, and have become so attached to them that we’re now afraid to solve them.
You know the only reason why you haven’t started working on that dream project of yours is because you can’t seem to find enough hours in the day. So why haven’t you tried waking up just one hour earlier? It’s because you love your sleep. You love the thing that is keeping you in bondage.
Your business has been stagnant for years. All around you, the competition is growing, diversifying, advertising on social media… meanwhile, you are refusing evolve, refusing to respond to your customers’ changing tastes. You refuse to try anything new whatsoever, because it would involve learning new skills. So you start to celebrate your inflexibility. You call it “tradition”. You describe your archaic methods as “time tested”, the world moves on without you. You remain in in your dusty little rut, refusing to move because you have fallen in love with the inertia. You love the thing that is keeping you in bondage.
As a nation, our Stockholm syndrome is probably the most terminal. Even as our leaders steal and misuse our money in branding buses and giving interest-free loans to their friends, we love them the more. Even as our political parties under-represent us, sell their consciences for coins and attack each-other with machetes and acid, we continue to profess our undying love and loyalty to them. We love the very people that are keeping us in bondage.
Last week, I talked about our obsession with cocoa. We have the thing in abundance, but we can’t seem to do anything with it. It’s as if we have been hypnotized! All we learned how to do was grow it and sell it. Beyond that, we can’t seem to do anything else. The best chocolate in the world is made in countries that have never even seen cocoa trees before. We have them all around us, but, not only have we failed to create a value-adding industry from it, to generate millions of dollars and jobs for our people, we have sunk our only existing cocoa processing factories into so much debt that they are being forced to shut down and send home their workers.
But you see, if we weren’t so in love with cocoa, and afraid to try anything else, this wouldn’t be so much of a problem, but as it stands, we are so addicted to the little cash that we rake in for the raw stuff when the world prices are good, that we dare not stop long enough to turn our hands to anything else. We dare not diversify our agricultural sector, because we are in love with the one crop we found ourselves good at growing way back in the 1920s. Cocoa has taken us hostage and we love it too much to break free.
We love bribes too much to enforce the law. We love hypocrisy too much to actually be righteous. We love ignorance too much to actually educate our people. We love stealing too much to actually be accountable. We love death too much to actually save lives. We love our problems too much to actually solve them. That’s Stockholm syndrome.
And of course, like the original sufferers, we actively fight any help from those trying to save us. We have endured our easily solvable problems for so long, and have become so attached to them that we fight anyone who suggests a solution. Like cancerous cells, we have become so used to growing and multiplying in the wrong way and in the wrong places that we attack the proper cells and overwhelm them into becoming cancerous too.
My friends, there’s only one way out of this vicious cycle of failure. There’s only one cure for this cancer, and that is to cut it out and give a chance for fresh healthy cells to grow in their place. Our only hope as a nation is to start again with our youth. Let’s teach them to do what we are afraid of doing. Let’s teach them to speak the truth no matter the consequences. Let’s teach them to think outside the box. Let’s encourage them to be better than us. Let’s give them the chances we did not give ourselves. We have ruined things so much that our only chance is to hit the reset button.
But here’s the thing: in order for future generations to get it right, we must give them a good example to follow. So I’m afraid we can’t just lay back and beam in adoration of our captors. Not while our children are watching. We must show them that things can be done differently – and we can only do so by doing things differently. If we lie to them, where will they learn to tell the truth? If we don’t try new things, how will they know to think outside the box? If we don’t show them righteousness, how will they know that hypocrisy is not the only option? If we don’t show them accountability, how will they ever fight corruption? If we don’t give them life, how will they ever conquer death?
We are our own cancer. We are our own kidnappers. We have caused our own problems, and we may not be able to solve them ourselves, but neither will the next generation, unless we show them how.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and I have been part of the problem, so the least I can do is be part of the solution.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!