As Ghanaians, the concept of eating appears to be part of everything we do. Whether taken literally or figuratively, we encourage eating. And we seem to be madly in love with it—eating. Some form of eating is a constant in all we do anywhere we are.
For example when I arrived on the campus of the University of Ghana in September 2013, one thing that struck me was the consistent, constant and ‘emboldened’ addition of “Item 13 is massively assured” on flyers, notices, banners and WhatsApp messages that advertised programmes. It appeared to me that the organisers were saying to potential patrons: “even if you find the programmes not worthy of attending, even if you find whatever is going to be discussed worthless, just come and eat your item 13.” And at programmes it was quite clear that people had attended merely to eat their item 13. And greedily!
In fact, programmes that did not go the extra mile to stress that item 13 was massively assured (note: not just assured, but massively) were bound to fail or at least do worse than those that massively assured item 13, to wit, massive eating.
Even at funeral ceremonies, which ordinarily should be occasions for mourning and a collective loss of appetite, people promptly dry their tears, restore their voracious appetite and eat. Some take the funeral food away to be eaten. Others will later complain about how good or bad, how tasty or tasteless the food was.
Eating, especially communal eating, shouldn’t be a problem. The food nourishes our bodies and the bond established as we eat together makes for a happier, peaceful society. But our notion of eating comes with a certain obliviousness, a blindness to the source of the food and the consequences of our eating. Whatever it is, we want to eat.
And this unbridled and brazen addition of eating to everything we do is one major cause of our vampiric corruption. When people elect their representatives, the coded message –which is sometimes said openly though – is go and also eat. If such an elected representative stays for too long in the eyes of the electorate, he is voted out so that another person can go and also eat.
Now even if elected representatives and other politicians assume a questionable lavish lifestyle that reeks of corruption, it is explained away with an eating mentality: “You don’t worry. It’s his time to chop. It won’t last forever.” Don’t miss eating in this; “chop” means eat.
Most public officials armed with this mindless mentality of eating, see public office as an eatery. They seem to be there to eat. They gobble solid food and guzzle anything liquid, from ordinary water to the harshest of liqueurs.
The revelations from SSNIT seem to fit my perfect example of eating. It appears that the management and board members were there to chop, to eat. The four representatives of labour seemed to have been the busiest, eating.
The breath of fresh air is that as Ghanaians we are tackling corruption head on on various platforms, notably, social media. This, I suggest, should be boosted by banishing the concept of unquestioning eating from the outset. Eating must not be given prominence in our affairs.
Item 13 must not be massively assured. Of course, participants of programmes should be catered for but they must not attend programmes with eating lodged in the fore of their subconscious. Politicians, and indeed every other worker, must not be allowed to eat at and from their workplace. Places of work are not cafeterias. Public office is not a food bazaar. We must consciously dislodge the jaundiced notion of eating that is unfortunately lodged in our sub-conscious. We must stop eating because eating is eating us up.