The Crossing: Message from the Morning Man by Kojo Yankson

The Crossing: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson
24th August 2016
Something happened yesterday. Something bad. It disgusted me. I still shake my head in despair every time I remember it.
It was about 12:45 in the afternoon, and I was crossing the road from the Joy FM building to the MultiTV building for a meeting with the News Team. There’s a well marked zebra crossing which bridges the road between the two buildings. I’d made it halfway across the crossing, when I noticed a car approaching from my right. It was still a good eighty metres away, but it showed no sign of slowing down, even though there were no other cars in the large, empty space between us.
I kept walking and the car kept coming. There was ample time for the car to slow down, and the driver had definitely seen me, but it just kept coming. Finally, less than 20 metres from the zebra crossing, the driver stomped on the brakes and the car screeched to a halt barely a metre from where I stood.
I noticed the driver making a gesture of agitation, so I pointed to the zebra crossing at my feet, to illustrate that I had right of way. Then the driver opened a window, and I noticed it was actually a woman. She shouted out to me, “you think this is some foreign country?”
I couldn’t believe my ears. Not only did this woman clearly lack the most basic driving skills of a pimple-studded, hormone-filled, brain-addled teenager, not only did she lack the minimum acumen required for the acquisition of a driving license, she also seemed to be living under the impression that laws were made to be obeyed only in foreign countries.
My friends, I have often taken pains to explain on many platforms how I am not against anyone. But I think I have to revise that statement, because I now know that I am one hundred percent against Ghanaians who despise Ghana. Now don’t get me wrong, you can feel disappointment, dissatisfaction, even frustration with our troubled nation. That’s just natural when you expect more from your country than you’re getting. But the moment you start hating your own nation, you no longer belong in it.
This woman actually thought I was wrong for doing the right thing. She clearly believed that there was no place for doing right in Ghana. Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t think what use such a human being is to our country. All of us – even those who are frustrated with our country – want things to be better. We only get frustrated when the right thing is not being done. We want the right thing to be done. So what is the point of a Ghanaian who thinks it is wrong to do the right thing?
Yesterday I was shocked to realise that such a Ghanaian exists. But after a while, the shock wore off, and I started to realise that there are far more of such Ghanaians than I imagined. If policemen are becoming armed robbers, if religious leaders are becoming con men, if judges are becoming goat herders, if mothers are killing their sons, fathers are raping their daughters, if journalists are telling lies, if teachers are cheating for students, if doctors and nurses are causing death, if politicians are serving themselves instead of serving the people, then really, how many of us also believe that it is wrong to do the right thing? How many of us also believe that doing right only happens in foreign countries? How many of us hate Ghana?
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “oh but I’m not that bad”. I’m sure even that misguided ruminant who nearly run me over yesterday, doesn’t actually think she hates her country but trust me, the moment you do the wrong thing and you think it’s ok because everyone else is doing it, that’s the moment you dredge up the oldest, flakiest, globules of phlegm from the deepest corners of your infected throat and spit in the face of your country. That’s the moment you give up on Ghana.
The sad thing is we are all guilty of this in one way or another. I’d like to believe that the vast majority of us, are non-bribe-taking, non-child-raping, non-law-breaking citizens, right? But let me ask you this: how many of you read my zebra crossing ordeal and thought to yourselves, “Ah Kojo paa. But this happens all the time. No driver stops for pedestrians on a zebra crossing in Ghana”? Well, there you go. You may not have been the clinically impeded driver who nearly knocked me over yesterday, but you certainly believe that her Neanderthal driving skills are in perfect alignment with the Ghanaian norm. “But this happens all the time”… right?
For all of you who don’t understand why I’m shocked every time a child is defiled; for all of you who don’t get the big deal when a cop takes a bribe, when a patient dies because there’s no oxygen, when a priest sleeps with his church member’s wife, or a politician becomes a millionaire after four years in office; for all of you who think these things are normal, please stop hating your country – it’s the only one you’ve got. And good things happen in Ghana too.
My name is Kojo Yankson and I don’t think this is some foreign country. I think this is the greatest country.