It appears the letter I wrote in reply to the American Peace Corp who helped build public latrine in Kumawu (Ghanaweb, April 5, 2007) excited many responses and letters. I have received many email letters of people who want to help. An American man called me yesterday from San Diego area of California who has been made a Chief of a Ghanaian town. He is also helping. Kirstin (Abena) herself wrote and I responded and share here as below. ___________
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2007 5:33 AM
Subject: response out of context Hello Kwaku,
This is Kirstin Green, and I have just read your response to the letter that was written by me back in 2003. I wanted to respond to you, and to inform you that I have meant no harm, and have received other criticism for the tone of the letter from a Ghanaian acquaintance that lives in California as well. I meant no harm, and the letter was geared towards raising funds to build a latrine in the area. It worked, and I got the funding needed, and the community got their latrine. I thought it was a good thing. I apologize for the image that it conveyed, but I didn't think at the time that people in California would understand the dire need that the Zongo had for the facility. People were freeing themselves anywhere, and there was a dilapidated building that was out of use. I never said I thought people were stupid in Ghana. I adore Ghanaian culture and continue my relationships with people here. I am in Ghana as we speak, even. I am not a missionary, and I do work with NGO's, and still try to do development projects. As I have grown and learned, I have also learned how to monitor my tone and still get the response that I require to continue working. We are now doing a project with Rotary international in the Bolga area, dredging 3 dams and drilling for one borehole. I also teach computer literacy skills to people who want to learn. I have heard your comment, and I hope you can reconsider your opinion. I meant no harm, ever, and I will continue to respect and work with my Ghanaian friends. Thank you, Kirstin Green
________________________________ MY RESPONSE:
Dear Kirstin, Thanks for writing back. Waoh! I didn’t realize this was 2003 news. You are still in Ghana! God bless your Soul! By saying the people are not stupid, I never meant that part of the comment to be taken much to heart or that you are doing harm. No, our poor leadership is doing enough harm to our people and nation and continent already!! Your work is commendable and your ticket to the Christian Heaven is perhaps being printed as we speak (smile). I simply wanted to make a point that the missing ingredient in this society is not intelligence or even education, but the knowledge as to how to transition from the Colonial dependency syndrome, the dead and dying autocratic non-functional Chieftaincy system, to one where democratic principles are used to collect taxes, account for the money, budget and build a modern society. Very simple! My letter to Ghanaweb (April 6, 2007) was meant to stimulate debate among the Ghanaians themselves and let the government see how they have failed the people, starting at the local levels. You see, more than 100 years of Colonial rule and dependency, following a chaotic 400 years of autocratic rule by Chiefs and Kings waging senseless wars with each other (as the Europeans were also doing), created a vacuum in understanding the core means by which human societies work together to create a democratic representative self governance.
You might wonder why would these people, part of the human race in the 21st century, sit unconcerned when their toilet is breaking down, their water system is not functioning, a pump breaks down, or a road or school building needs to be constructed or rehabilitated! I am an engineer by education and training and after managing for many American companies decided to obtain more formal education in the field of Organizational Management after 30 years of professional life in America. I may be teaching later, but I can assure you that the main hindrance right now in Ghana, based on my research conducted in Ghana, is the lack of understanding of the role of government and leadership. It is obvious that one can put most of the blame on the World Bank, since they should have known this long ago as they piled up loans, to the tune of $6.2 Billion, on the people under a dictatorial non-representative government in the 1980s to 1992, and again more loans to the current government. I focused my PhD dissertation on the topic, and a book I wrote is out, as shown below at Barnes and Nobles and Amazon.com, titled "Leadership Concepts and The Role of Government in Africa: The Case of Ghana" (Danso, K.A., 2007 by Xlibris). Please don't get me wrong. I am not suggesting that the World Bank should build toilets for the people. You should not be doing it either! It Leadership! Leadership! And Management (a subset of leadership)! I know this part may be beyond your level to change, but what I am suggesting is that the World Bank piled up loans for road construction and for other projects and never monitored the use of the money as they do here when Americans borrow money for projects or any construction. The desperation politics made many Ghanaians in government find surrogate friends or foreigners and channel millions of dollars of these loans for themselves through graft and corruption. The Nigerian President has even suggested more than an estimated 75% of the moneys given as loans to Africa are stolen. These could go into projects, equipment, systems, paying professional people to train and monitor projects, and providing services. New ways of thinking is needed in Ghana and Africa, as well as new forms of management and simple accounting principles. So far as I am concerned, your teaching them these principles of how to live and manage their lives as an organization, far outweighs any milk or honey they are expecting or toilets built. My hometown Abetifi had one built by money from their natives in Holland, and maintenance was a problem when I visited in 2004.
The greatest challenge now facing the people of Ghana is how to get rid of incompetent and thieving non-performing elected officials under the new concept of governance called democracy that we have adopted and pretend to be practicing in Ghana. Our President is confused, traveling and thinking some external body could come in and help, and the people are confused as to how to make him and the appointed Ministers respond to their needs! I live in California as you do, and can you imagine a place with people, cars, houses, claiming not able to provide for water, electricity and common sewage and waste disposal?! Come ooooon!! It is a disaster and the Western governments simply watch, and are perhaps amused, and some may wonder if these Africans are animals! (I know nobody will dare say this in public for diplomatic correctness). Kirstin, God bless what you are doing - that is the best any can do. President J. F. Kennedy had a good idea to send the American Peace Corp out, and he did the best he knew how. I am very glad that you teach Computer literacy classes also, as you get the chance. Our people have to do the rest. Our government collects taxes and the people have no control of information, public disclosure, how much tax is fair and how they are accounted for, and no involvement in the budget design for these communities who pay the money! To be honest with you, were it not for the hopeless and deadlock of government we have in Ghana now, unaccountable to the people, not caring enough, and yet locked in a python-type choking control of the nation, with the people unable to find a way to replace them, Ghanaians would be far better off today. We need a government, but not what we have seen! It is for this reason that a group of us formed the Ghana National Party, as I mentioned to you. It is formed on a missionary format but self-empowerment leadership principles, waiting for the people to learn and practice. We are opening offices and starting some projects in Upper East, Volta, and other regions as we speak. I will be in Ghana later, but I can always be reached by email. Let's keep on doing what we can to help the poor – stay out of the reach of the mosquito, and others will come in to assist as they see progress - no matter where we live or come from. God bless.