In the days leading up to the French Revolution, it is said that when her assistants informed her that the peasants had no bread to eat Marie Antoinette, the frivolous queen, said “Let them eat cake”.
And so goes the story of many of the “Ruling Elite” all around the world. It is the story of Batista’s Cuba before Castro took over. It is the story of the largesse of the America’s CEOs and business leaders before the “depression” of 2008-20XX. It is the story of NPP government’s ex-gratia demands of a $1million government funded NGO for the ex-president. That the ruling elite become detached from reality as they acquire and protect their wealth is nothing new.
The Ruling Elite or Ruling Class is not necessarily only those holding elected office in this great land.
Here is Wikipedia’s definition:
“The ruling class is a particular sector of the upper class that adheres to quite specific circumstances: it has both the most material wealth and the most widespread influence over all the other classes, and it chooses to actively exercise that power to shape the direction of a locality, a country, and/or the world.”
You know we have 3 classes in Ghana, right? The upper class, marginally poor, and dirt poor. So we can agree that the Ghana’s Ruling Elite are the people in a society with the most material wealth and the most widespread influence in Ghana. I’m sure you know a few such people if you are not one yourself.
So my question is this; as a young a fragile democracy, what is the responsibility of Ghana’s Ruling Elite to the country that has given them such wealth and influence.
Here’s what I think it should be:
- Use your collective influence – there are Joneses in every culture and I believe it is human nature for everybody to want to be like the Joneses but I think more so in Ghana than anywhere I have lived we are such “good followers”. If the Ruling Elite (remember? those people with the most widespread influence) could exercise their widespread influence collectively in a positive direction imagine what great impact it will have on our country.
- Establish businesses that make things or provide services and employs people.
- Patronize locally made products and reduce your dependence on foreign imports as much as you can. For example, have a local manufacturer make you a juicer and have the house help make you some fresh squeezed orange juice with oranges from farms in the hinterland instead of drinking the South African orange juice that comes in the paper box with so much high fructose corn syrup – nothing against South Africa. A glass of organic Orange Juice in a trendy New York City restaurant costs about $5 but Ghanaian elite want to drink boxed orange juice from South Africa with High Fructose Corn Syrup). Most American Corporate CEOs (especially in the Midwest) have foreign cars in their drive way but for political reasons they always drive that big old American car to work from Monday to Friday. It is good politics and good business.
- Keep (your friends in) government accountable. Don’t condone stealing (Oh sorry, taking things).
- When (not if) you travel outside the country (the more you do the more elite you are in Ghana) spend some time outside the shopping malls and learn something new. Don’t go looking for things you can buy to sell in Ghana. Take a tour of the city and learn how it was built you’ll be surprised to learn that Rome wasn’t built in a day and it takes ordinary people with a simple idea and some serious planning to build everything we love about western cities.
- While your kids go to all the private prep schools, keep an eye on the quality of public education in your village or your neighborhood. We need everybody on board for a better tomorrow.
- Don’t promote tribalism. Come on! It’s 2009. You have all these degrees after your name. You’ve travelled the world. You know better.
- Support the Arts – get some good Ghanaian paintings in your house or office and get a traditional dancing group to perform at your wedding. In any country the ruling elite support the arts as a means of promoting and projecting the elegance of the culture. During the Renaissance era artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo were used by the ruling elite to preserve western culture. Think about this; thanks to paintings like Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper many people today think Jesus Christ was a blond haired blue eyed man from Italy. We all know Jesus was a Jew.