Asantehene And Africa's Image Abroad

Fri, 4 Nov 2005 Source: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

The Asantehene (King), Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, of Ghana's Asante ethnic, impending lectures and the showcasing of the regalia of the Asante kingship at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) as the guest of honor at the MFA on November 2 and Havard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Studies, USA on November 3, among other international cultural and development engagements, demonstrate the rising global respectability of Africa's values and her image abroad, more so in her development process.

The Asantehene's lecturing about "Chieftaincy and Development in contemporary Africa: The Case of Asante" in the United States, the forefront of Western development paradigms and progress, cultural arrogance, and the leading centre of intellectual culture of the world, reveals the increasing new positive image of African values in the global development process, more so reflected in the potency of values of the Asantehene. The need for this international respectability and good image of Africa's progress today has come about because ever since Africa's encounter with the colonialists in the 18th century she has suffered painful bad image abroad and has been described in all sorts despicable ways - "primitive," "basketcase," among others - by people who did not know and understand Africa and this situation has not helped in her progress.

These developments are critically welcomed in Ghana/Africa's progress for various development process reasons, more so as Ghana, the continent's centre of development enlightenment, ideal and hope, is increasingly signalling a renaissance in her development process. In this sense, if values are images, Africa's values were also not heavily employed in her development process but the colonialists', making Africa having the most imposed foreign values in her development process in the world. Most of African governments that came after the colonialists did not show any remarkable development process creativity and continued, largely, with the Western imposed development paradigms. As a result of this, since independence from colonial rule, African values have been wrestling painstakingly with the colonial values in her development game, creating confusion and crises of confidence and self-esteem in her development journey.

Like the Asantehene's international efforts in selling Ghanaian/African values such as his presentation at the World Bank and helping talk the bank to reshedule Ghana's debt and which is helping to right many an historical wrong image of Ghana/Africa abroad, the ex-coloinialists are increasingly coming to the conclusion that they misunderstood Africa's values and have caused damages and are working to right them. Western international donor ventures such as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) are increasingly becoming sensitive to African values and the development process in their work. For instance, the World Bank, one of the key fronts of Western development paradigmns, is not only telling Africans to mix their colonial leagcies and their indugenous values in their development process, but, on the ground is engaging African traditional institutions such as its development dealings with the Asantehene.

Aside from Western international development agencies increasingly engaging African values in the continent's progress, the Western media, globally dominant and for long key sources of wrong images of Africa in the world, are balancing their reports about Africa's progress, becoming much more objective and listening to African voices on the ground instead of the so-called armchair Africanists or African experts. Headlings such "Africa's Future" and "Africa's Anguish" screamed Canada's "The Ottawa Citizen;" "History of Ending Poverty" and "Africa: now for the good news," said the London, UK-based "Guardian Weekly;" Africa's "Poverty: Its not really about money" and "Debt is bad, but debt relief is worse" indicated the Toronto, Canada-based "The Globe And Mail," though representative samples from around the world, especially Western countries, increasingly reveal the growing Africa's balanced image abroad and also the increasing understanding of Africa's development process, more so as African values such as the Asantehene flows the world over to be seen and respected on its own merits without any propaganda.

Still, Western media, Western citizens (are become increasingly multiculturalised and understanding the world better, especially Africa) and the young academic discipline of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) are increasingly questioning why there are almost permanent negative news about everything Africa despite the continent's rich cultural values and institutions which has let it survive centuries of abuses, imposition of foreign values to the detriment of Africa's own tried and tested ones, misundestandings, crime against its peoples and international marginalization. In Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu 11, as he increasingly get engaged in international development activities, as will be happening at Havard University, Africa's image abroad will be changed for better and help in the continent's progress.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi