Serving your country is an ideal inculcated in us when growing up. We are told that such a selfless act of sacrifice would help make our world a better place. So we look at civil servants in their star studded uniforms in admiration while daydreaming of when we would grow up and take their place.
Erm…not where I come from. That may be the honest dream of a Western youth but definitely not in Africa. Maybe it was an honourable institution before my time but whenever it is mentioned, people literally spit on it. The household name for our dear policemen is the “beggars in uniform.” You find them well dressed early in the morning ready to do their ‘routine checks But everyone knows why they are really by the road. You ask a six year old child what he thinks of the police officer and his view is not any different from that of the forty year old.
In their defence, these public officers would say they have lost respect in the eyes of the youth because of the massive badmouthing they have been subjected to by the elderly. But who can blame them? The younger generation doesn’t even need their elders to brainwash them. They witness this pathetic situation under the guise of ‘checking for relevant documents’ almost every morning.
This is not to say that the whole lot are rotten but as the saying goes, one bad nut spoils the soup. And in this case, the nuts are more than one and they have left a bitter aftertaste in the mouth of Ghanaians. Most commercial drivers complain of being robbed in plain sight but who can they tell of their grievances when the appropriate officers are the very ones robbing them? I have heard about three drivers complain bitterly about being ‘searched’ at two different checkpoints one morning. And since they don’t give any tickets, these drivers have no means of convincing the next officer at the next check point that he had already been checked. They tend to lose lots of money before they even start business for the day.
When kids are asked what they would want to be one day, the police get lost in the list. Teachers have a relatively higher chance of being mentioned than they do. I wonder how they feel when they look at themselves in the mirror whiles putting on their supposed-to-be uniform of pride. Do they think for a moment how the passengers in a bus for instance regard them as they look on whiles they do their ‘check up?’ My best guess is that they could care less.
I don’t know how I’d feel if my dad was a police officer knowing the horrible stereotype surrounding the profession. When my colleagues talk of their parents with such admiration, could I also do same? When other countries hail their officers for their honest hard work, what do we find here? Could this bad image be repainted in our time or shall it remain a lost cause forever?