Jobless thousands in Sikaman-Part One

Jobless thousands in Sikaman-Part One

It is normally the desire of every human being, of sound mind, to work for the sake of his stomach and that of his dependants. It is also true that some indolent fatheads always want to be bellyful without desiring to work.

In any case, the good old Lord has since the beginning of time declared: “Не that does not want to work, let him not eat.”

Many people really want to work but it appears there is no work to be found
Many people really want to work but it appears there is no work to be found

Obviously, when the Lord made this declaration there was nothing like unemployment or retrenchment of workers, known in Sikaman jargon as redeployment.

In Sikaman today, like elsewhere, many people really want to work but it appears the work can be found only in heaven, not Sikaman.

Thousands of both the educated and uneducated grieve in their hearts for the lack of something small doing to earn them their daily bread and to buy clothes to cover their nakedness.

Indeed, many able-bodied persons aged over forty, highly educated and willing to work roam the streets, living on petty charities and the mag­nanimous hands of sympathisers.

The declaration of the Lord will have to be amended: “Blame not he who wants to work but has no work to do. The state must feed him.”

This is already being applied in some advanced countries, where the jobless enjoy unemployment benefits that cater for food, clothing, accom­modation and incidental expenses. And the equivalent of money paid to a jobless man in the US for instance is about four times the salary of a Managing Director in Sikaman.


Understandably, however, the re­sources of Third World countries can­not accommodate such programmes for the unfortunate thousands who are jobless and destitute. And so be it in Sikaman.

Let’s come to the investments parents make to educate their wards. When parents are paying school fees, they don’t do so just for the sake of it. They pay school fees in the hope that the child would become educat­ed, responsible and independent. And perhaps in a reciprocal gesture, the child would look after them in their old age.

But today, many parents do not reap the fruits of what they have sown. Their wards complete school and stay at home jobless, still de­pending on their ageing parents to feed them three solid times a day. The parents become tired feeding their well-educated but jobless chil­dren.

When they can’t continue feeding them any longer, they either resign or leave the children to their fate or they die to end it all. They can’t con­tinue like that, feeding able- bodied wards who are old enough to have children. There is no one to feed at the cemetery, anyway, so why not rest there in peace?

Every school-going child also enter­tains a dream – a dream of becom­ing a responsible fellow in gainful employment after completing “col­lege”. This dream lingers all through secondary school days.

When a child completes and his grades are terribly bad then he is in trouble. Because messengers are now Level holders, an ‘O’ Level dropout must start to discard the idea of becoming a lawyer or space engineer and start thinking about how to be­come a cobbler i.e. shoemaker or an apprentice to a tailor.

If he is brilliant enough to get to Sixth form, he is going to experience hell, unless he squeezes through aca­demic net and enters university.

Otherwise, and because there is no job befitting his status, he’d have to do as a messenger, a post that is politely referred to as junior clerk. If that is also hard to come and he doesn’t want to be a ‘housewife,’ then he start making a living the hard way.

Indeed, many certificate holders are today seriously engaged selling dog chains, air refreshners, ice-ken­key, meat-pie and chamber pots. No kidding, dear reader, it is what is actually happening in the Kenkey Kingdom.

When the child, however, gets admission into university, he be­lieves he is in paradise. Soon, he’d graduate with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and become a man.” Some even entertain the illusion of chauf­feur- cars. And sure he passes his exams with excellence, earning him a Second Class Upper (Hons).

The graduation ceremony is superb­ly organised. The Head of State or his representative is ever-present to offer a very inspiring speech. Camer­as flash around and coloured pictures are taken.

Meanwhile the graduates appear in their gowns known as acapompo in allusion to academic pomposity. Then they retire home and start trotting in readiness for national service. Of course one must serve his nation.

In fact, national service becomes a real breather for graduates who, otherwise, would have been unem­ployed straight from school. Doing the service at Karni JSS (Upper West) or with the Community Improvement Unit (CIU) at Kordiabe Junction, the serviceman can at least earn some­thing to buy ‘supporter’ and ‘char­lie-wote’ and drink beer once in a month.


It is when the national service period is grinding to a halt that the graduates begin having nightmares. They have terrifying dreams about IMF, structural adjustment, freeze on employment, increase in the price of kenkey, Saddam Hussein and others.

Some expect to be retained in their departments after national service but, more often than not, they are told: “You’ve been a hard worker, intelligent and respectful. We would have wanted to retain you. Unfortu­nately, however, we are allergic to retaining servicemen just like how some people are allergic to Chloro­quine. So please pack your things and go away peacefully. Peace be with you and with us.”

The graduate comes to realise that academic qualification is not all there is to life. But he must not lose hope at this crucial stage in his life. He must start writing applications. He approaches his mummy: “I want to buy seven official envelops, seven official papers and stamps. I must ap­ply to all the companies in Sikaman. At least three of them will click, and I can choose the best of the three. “Yes, he must start begging for a job, irrespective of his qualifications.

In colonial times, writing applica­tion for a job was altogether a labori­ous venture bordering on the use of highfalutin language and linguistic gymnastics. And the jobs were avail­able for qualified personnel.

Today, we write in simple language and as simply as that, there are no jobs. Perhaps applicants of today will have to write something similar to what a Pitman shorthand college graduate wrote some three decades ago.

“I wish to apply for employment in your highly- esteemed company. … My achievements in the realm of Pit­manization have been noised hither and yon, and I am accordingly indel­ibly impressed with your restrained solicitation in the publications for a stenographical secretarial amanuen­sis.

“Fortunately, I am at the present a member of the regimentation of un­employed and am therefore at liberty to consolidate my interests with your own at a moment’s notification.

“Both by educational attain­ment and experiential service, I am pre-eminently qualified to render you superlative performances in the acknowledged artistry of abbreviated communication. I remain, your hum­ble servant… signed”

Dear reader, the discussion contin­ues next week.

*This article was first published on May 4, 1991*

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