ADDRESS BY H.E. JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS,
FORMER PRESIDENT OF GHANA
2018 GUBA AWARDS
INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL, O2 LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to join this beautiful gathering of enterprising personalities from Ghana, Africa and the Commonwealth at this year's edition of the Ghana UK Based Achievements Awards. I must say, the GUBA awards has eventually become a household name not only among the Ghanaian community in the United Kingdom but also amongst Ghanaian entrepreneurs, artistes and celebrities based in Ghana.
My warm gratitude goes to Dentaa Amoateng and her team at GUBA Enterprise for pioneering this initiative.
The GUBA awards have been one of the few initiatives I have been following keenly. Any initiative that seeks to bring together and recognize the diverse cultural and economic potential of Ghanaians is one that should be embraced wholeheartedly by the Ghanaian community both home and abroad; and I am delighted that the Government of Ghana has over the past few years embraced this project and offered the needed moral support. It is equally commendable that the UK government through the British High Commission in Accra has been extremely supportive.
The recognition of Dentaa Amoateng in the Queen’s honours list of 2016 was certainly an endorsement of a personality whose laudable initiative has also raised funds to support humanitarian projects in favour of the underprivileged in Ghana and the United Kingdom.
“African Entrepreneurship for Growth and Sustainability”, is a very strategic and revolutionary theme chosen for the seminar which preceded today's event. It is commendable that the awards are not limited to just a presentation ceremony but also an opportunity for business people from Ghana, the UK and other Commonwealth countries to gather and share ideas on ways of enhancing economic activity and improving business.
Events such as yesterday’s and today’s go to contribute significantly to the improvement of the economic wellbeing and productive capacity of not only the Ghanaian community in the UK but also impact multifold on the home country, Ghana.
Annual remittances to Ghana have been rising steadily over the past few years. The World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief recorded Ghana as having bagged $2.2 billion from remittances for 2017. If we continue to organize events such as the GUBA Awards and Seminar annually, we stand to improve the figures quite significantly and this will help to boost economic indices back home.
GUBA, I learn, has also contributed immensely to female entrepreneurship and women empowerment. It is no wonder that my dear Nana Agyeman was privileged to be your Special Guest of Honour three years ago.
The GUBA autism campaign also deserves applause for tackling a problem that many in Ghana shy away from. Children with autism tend to be marginalized in society because the condition is often misunderstood. Educating the populace on autism is therefore a project worthy of support. With the right guidance and support these children will contribute meaningfully to our community.
We are also aware that the GUBA Foundation is contributing to the provision of quality healthcare by providing various kinds of support.
While we celebrate these and many other achievements here today with the presentation of trophies and citations, let us give a thought to Ghana in terms of its socio-political and socio-economic development and how it has impacted not only our nation but the globe at large. The truth is that until our progress and development impact Africa and the world, we will be offering very little security to our nation.
It is well and good to celebrate our successes as African people, however, we have to highlight the dangers being meted out to our people especially those with the interest of some international bodies and individuals vividly displayed. The quality of democracy in Africa differs in each country, regardless of that if freedom and justice in democracy is not rooted in the rule of law, a sustainable climate to give rise to entrepreneurship cannot materialize.
Using Egypt, Libya and Tunisia as case studies, these are countries which are fairly advanced in terms of infrastructural development and yet have seen their democracy collapse with dire consequences on their economies. In other words, these countries experienced a steep decline in the quality of freedom and justice for its people which was at variance with their progressive infrastructural development. In effect without freedom and justice, the socio-economic and socio-political developments would more likely collapse.
I have reached a phase in life where I should be enjoying my life after decades of tireless service. I would be content to observe my fellow citizens prosper; see my fellow citizens gain access to the basic amenities they are entitled to and also see an African continent where the safety, freedom and justice is guaranteed amidst the improvement of their socio-economic status.
Distinguished guests, how do I experience any peace of mind when I see my fellow Africans butcher each other as has happened in countries like Sudan, Nigeria and Cameroon? How can I not feel pain and anger when innocent victims especially women and children are mindlessly killed?
Why can't we deal ruthlessly by hunting down these characters who are behaving like mad dogs?
We would want to enjoy this ceremony, but how can we do so when our fellow Africans are being massacred? What is happening there affects us as Africans, and therefore such characters must be dealt with.
Too much wealth and power happens to be in the hands of a few too many wrong people. This kind of situation prevails because some countries are under the grip of unconscionable characters and their partners in the so called developed world.
The collapse of the bi polar world has brought the worst out of us and some people are willing to continue and entertain such savagery. This scenario is perfectly cited by Pope John Paul as the "savagery of capitalism". A gathering of this kind is very far removed from some of the painful realities on our continent yet it’s only a click away on our phones. These activities, ladies and gentlemen, are only six hours away by flight.
On this note I congratulate the Senegalese government for bringing the Former Chad dictator, Hissene Habre to justice in 2016 after 25 years of relentless campaigning by his victims. I was very pleased he faced the maximum punishment in line with his crimes against humanity. I will also like to commend some sober American leaders as well as French organizations, who facilitated a fair hearing in this instance. Most of the international stakeholders are very much aware of what is going on in Africa but yet look on unconcerned. A few too many of us also seem unperturbed and unaffected!!
Today, there are many nations around us that are saddled with unimaginable conflicts. What we need to do as a continent is to push our governments and various reputable people to stand and speak out against injustices in affected countries.
In Cameroon for instance; a twin nation of two former UN trust territories that had enjoyed a semblance of peace for 57 years since 1961 but is currently deteriorating rapidly into a place of full scale conflict. I will urge the UN and AU to look into Cameroon’s case because we cannot impose superficial solutions on the English speaking half of the country. I will also urge France and President Macron to be seen as part of the solution to salvage the situation and restore justice and equity to that part of the country. Mankind has had enough of its bloodshed over natural resources which should rather benefit their lives!
Ghana must remember that our role as a hub of peace means that we have to contribute in diverse ways to making this continent better. I will once again seize the opportunity to praise the security services in Ghana for helping us realize this feat. I classify them as second to none, not in terms of technological advancement but rather as an armed institution that can do combat or wage war with conscience. As the gateway to Africa, the world can only hold us in high esteem depending on how we view the globe and how much we connect to universal shared values of truth and integrity.
Ghana as a nation has made positive strides to enhance her democracy, stabilize its economy and engender growth and development. We have to confess however that we have grave challenges dealing with corruption. We tend to limit our understanding of corruption to the misappropriation of funds by public sector and government-related persons. However, it is important to appreciate the fact that keeping our moral fabric as a people intact and the appropriate mindset as citizens towards corruption is key to fighting this menace.
Our annual seminars such as this one, must be used as avenues to tackle this all important subject. Ghanaians in the UK and other developed countries need to transmit the quality of what they learn in terms of discipline and prudent management of resources back home, to help stem the scourge of corruption and indiscipline, which sadly continues to engulf our society.
Let me conclude by once again commending GUBA for its numerous humanitarian initiatives. It is a cause that should be supported by all in order to extend the reach further to more underprivileged and marginalized people in our society.
Let me single out the British High Commission for their commitment to improving Ghana-UK relations through cultural diversity and partnership. I am hopeful that their partnership with Ghana and GUBA will continue to grow from strength to strength.
My warm congratulations to all the awardees and the beautiful people gathered here for this magnificent event.
Thank you and good evening.