GHANA’S ANIMAL FARM

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“For the poorest and most vulnerable, the difference that good, or particularly bad, governance makes to their lives is profound” – Unknown


Animal Farm is a satirical allegorical novella by George Orwell, first published in England on 17 August 1945. The book tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy. Ultimately, the rebellion is betrayed, and the farm ends up in a state as bad as it was before, under the dictatorship of a pig named Napoleon.


According to Orwell, the fable reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. Orwell, a democratic socialist, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile to Moscow-directed Stalinism, an attitude that was critically shaped by his experiences during the May Days conflicts between the POUM and Stalinist forces during the Spanish Civil War. In a letter to Yvonne Davet, Orwell described Animal Farm as a satirical tale against Stalin (“un conte satirique contre Staline”), and in his essay “Why I Write” (1946), wrote that Animal Farm was the first book in which he tried, with full consciousness of what he was doing, “to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole”.


This story and its setting I believe best suits the Ghanaian story, where the spoils of the political democratic conquest and the inherited national wealth becomes the wealth of the ruling class, family, friend, (by a small extent) political party apparatchiks, some bought media and other opportunistic few who have become political prostitutes who when in opposition were the impartial men and women of wisdom and knowledge.


The promise of the sharing the national cake with equity for all becomes a mirage as the four legs good slogan becomes applicable to only animals who have four legs indeed, the two-legged animals may complain when we suddenly realize that we have all been misled by the slogans and then the new one that will be introduced will settle the issue once and for all, some animals are more equal than others.
To say that the last three decades was a time of worldwide transformation, sweeping economic and political changes on a global scale, is to repeat a commonplace. For every rapid and large-scale political shift that occurred in this period, we find an equally grandiose metaphor to describe it. The sudden democratic transformation that took hold of much of the third world in the latter half of the twentieth century was deemed the “third wave of democratization”. The democratic revolution that engulfed sub-Saharan Africa a few decades later was termed a “springtime for Africa” or a “new democratic dawn”, not to mention Francis Fukuyama’s notorious claim that the global expansion of political liberalism at the close of the Cold War was proof that humankind had finally reached the “end of history”.


Perhaps just as remarkable as the internal dynamics of this democratic wave – the resurgence of internal opposition and grassroots movements, as well as the apparent return of an African civil society – was the fact that the apostles of democracy and its institutions suddenly insisted that African governments democratize but little did they know that what they were pushing down our throats were going to breed the new generation of despotic and autocratic leaders. A new breed of national resources thieves, who in the guise of democrats were ready to share the little that were left from the thievery of the gun wielding men of the uniforms.


Has democracy helped us fight the canker of the pigs and their cronies growing fatter than the other animals? Certainly, not! The sharing of the already meager resources amongst the new messiahs of the people has continued and the winner takes all democracy being practiced has given the thieves the impetus to steal the more knowing very well that, they can manipulate the people with their big English and trickery, for after all eight (8) years are guaranteed for us to steal and walk away free they say.


When the other animals on the farm think that by the use of the thumb the new pigs they are bringing will get them justice by ensuring that those who have fatten themselves in the previous regime will be made to account, the new animal farm governance policy of scratch my back let me scratch your back is triggered in closed door meetings.


The democracy that was professed as an antidote to the rampant stealing of the meager resources by the few ruling class and their refusal to account to those who gave them the power to govern has not worked up to the present day, but rather what pertain currently may be best described as a corruption eruption of mass murder, a term not used to indicate an explosive rise in the actual incidence of third world corruption, but in the significance of the issue of corruption in the West’s foreign policy agendas, as well as those of other international donors, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and major international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Although campaigns against third world corruption were hardly new, what has happened over the past three decades certainly is a kind of stealing explosion – and it has blown all the so-called fortified measures that were prescribed as the cure of the canker of political thievery, after all the news masters of the animal farm are dirtier than those, we used our thumbs to chase away.
What was meant to be for the good of Ghana and Africa with the introduction of democracy has certainly given us the new animal farm where some pigs with their own set of propaganda and ‘policies’ continue to take control of the juicy resources of the masses to grow fat whiles the people are enslaved, thinned, choked to death and bled dry.


In the new animal farm, governance reform has lost its way! Three decades after ‘good governance’ moved to the centre-stage in international declarations and democracy became part of us, official aid policies and non- governmental advocacy alike, the results of efforts to improve the way Ghanaians are ruled remain seriously insufficient. This refers not just to the high-level, headline-grabbing episodes that tend to dominate media coverage of the country, but also to more mundane aspects of the everyday exercise of power. Governance is failing to work for the development of all but an avenue to enrich the few, the fattening four legs good pigs of the new animal farm.


What was to be a new animal farm where all animals were the same and that the national cake will be shared equitably has not materialized and continue to be a mirage and the expectation that the national government, local authorities or by anyone else to provide the elementary public goods that are key preconditions for progress in Ghana is just another hoax that has been perpetrated on the people.

Corruption is ingrained and routine. As a result, in the typical economy there is some measure of economic growth, but vital investments needed for this to be sustained fail to take place. The better-off in the new animal farm solve their livelihood problems privately, while for the majority life remains nasty, brutish and short. Above all, the synergies between economic, social and political progress that are the key to genuine development are systematically blocked.

This is the new animal farm.