Shirking Responsibility

So whilst I was in graduate school an incident occurred that set my path to the sort of people we are as Ghanaians. In my university days I was an avid sportsman (and I still am though I have to accept I’m not that young anymore) and played on various sports teams for the university. We played several tournaments and attended several invitational and bilateral games.

It was in preparation of one such tournament, whilst the list of team members was compiled that the incident that is the focal point of this story happened.

Not to sound too pompous but I was quite popular as a sportsman in my university days and the icing on that was that I was a postgraduate student having fun doing sports and a poster boy against the myth that only people who weren’t too smart did well in sports.

So the list of sportsmen for the invitational has to be prepared and presented and when the final list was called it had a student’s name and his course and degree to show he was a student of the university.  That was the beginning of the end. Lo and behold when I checked my name on the list,  at least that was spelt right (how difficult is it to spell Kofi Larbi anyway) but my course had been changed to a Diploma in Drama Studies (not that it’s a bad course).

OMG! How could such a blunder be committed when almost all the officials knew that I was a postgraduate student. At least if you didn’t know my course and you had to speculate put down a masters in some obscure course to be corrected later. Now the story proper starts – who is to blame for such a clerical error?

In the Sports Directorate office of the university is an old woman, Auntie Peace, who worked diligently and tirelessly to type all official documents. She had just transitioned from the old typeset typewriter to a computer. A very affable woman who doesn’t ask too many questions but types out what is put in front of her.

When I stormed into the office to enquire who was responsible for such a blunder at first nobody wanted to own up. From the sports coordinator to the office staff and some coaches present. First I jokingly asked how many of them didn’t know I was a postgraduate student and none of them was ignorant like that. So when I posed the question as to who was responsible for compiling the list and making such a blunder, they were all caught up in it.

To cut a long story short, they all now pointed their fingers and swayed responsibility to Auntie Peace, the typist who only types what you put on her desk and assign her to do.

And then that’s where I flipped.

For the next ten minutes they were compelled and spell bound – all the office staff – to get a lecture from me on responsibility and owning up to our own actions. Oh no! It wasn’t about the blunder that had been committed, that one could always be rectified but it was about the system that has come to stay and become part of our social fabric of passing the buck or finding a scape goat.

In some circles we say some heads must roll and usually it’s the least person sitting in their corner who ends up suffering for the incompetence and inconsistency of the people at the top.

Now do you see any parallels in our governments and government agencies? Do you see any parallels even in your workplace and in your daily life activities?

We easily point fingers are other people for stuff that we should take responsibility for especially as a collective. This is especially true in government and the brand of democracy we practice in Ghana and Africa. We are collectively to blame for the kind of leaders we elect into office and we should in the same way be collectively responsible to bear the consequences. 

When we go astray or make mistakes we should own up to it and be prepared to bear consequences of our actions because we are responsible for it. Ghana needs responsible citizens and responsible governance and if even at a university sports office we’re passing the buck then how much more big government agencies.

At the various learning stages, even right from infancy, the sense of responsibility should be instilled in the children. What do you expect a child to learn when their parents blame the teachers for everything that happens to that child. Is the teacher a parent or hi it their responsibility to raise your child for you? Let’s not get into that one too.

It is about high time we were responsible for our own actions. There is no shame in admitting you were wrong (sometimes there is even a loss of dignity when you’re carelessly irresponsible) and bearing the consequences of your actions. Let’s not go blaming the lower person in rank to us or especially as we often do The Devil because we did it.

Yes! You’re responsible for your own action and you’ve got to own up to it. Change will only come when one person at a time owns up to their responsibility and fulfills it.

Like I always say it begins with YOU!!

Be Responsible!


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