It may be a Waste of Time –Our Culture! And my Prediction
By: Kwaku A. Danso
In the wake of the many revelations of government judgment payoffs and frustration in leadership lack of response, Ghanaians are in a frenzy of criticism and at a loss. One member of our GLU forum, Steve N. wrote:
“What is wrong with African Leaders koraaaa? Even the British Prime Minister comments regularly like today on pressing national issues”
“An after thought if they want to live the lifestyles of these people we JUST want them to perform like the people they are trying to emulate!” (Friday, July 13, 2012 10:53 AM)
I share my response below since some of our friends overseas have a tendency to make this comparison and have high expectations without understanding the impact of old culture:
Steve, you are trying to compare apples to oranges, as the saying goes, comparing the British or American response to the media and social issues to that of an African leader?
You seem to not know well, or forget our culture? Let me explain.
None of our discussions, criticisms, will ever get to President Mills. There are even some people on this forum who don't think he has done anything wrong at all. Yes! And if he has, there is no way you should present bad news to “Nana” (a title for the Ghanaian King or Chief). In the olden days your head could be cut off and your dried skull used to drink palm wine!
As a matter of fact, Atta Mills may not know of any such negative news or opinions or thinking at all. That is why these leaders come out and smile broadly because they have been told they are doing great work for the people! It is not considered good to give bad news to the King in Africa. And remember in the minds of many, the President is nothing but a King who is ruling over many tribes combined. And please don’t think this is just a problem of Atta Mills.
Steve, I will refer you to the book by Prof. Hernando d'Armesto titled Millennium, and you see how the ancient Ghana King behaved in 1300s. They did not talk directly to the people and today it’s the same! Mills and Kufuor would be strongly shielded and discouraged from talking directly to the people. This is Akan culture. Mosi, Hausa, Dagbani and other cultures may not be that far off.
Why do you think Jerry Rawlings gained popularity in Ghana? And still has about 15% popularity, from my own estimate. It's because he defied the old antiquated African culture. Yes, he speaks "by heart", but for the youth, suppressed for centuries from voicing out complaints in society, that was refreshing in the 1980s to the youth. You see we still don’t have any means to voice out complaints in Ghana even if your services are poor. Our elected leaders have no clue how unhappy they are because the Presidential and Advisers are supposed to not give them bad news!
King or President Atta Mills is totally in the control of others, unfortunately, who may want only their self interest. Africans have this problem of communication anyway, and hence the King may not hide in his slave castle watching CNN or Al Jazeera. They will shield him away from such news.
I understand the only time President Atta Mills knew electricity was a problem was when one of his grandnieces heard some comments against her grandpa at a hair salon. People were insulting President Mills when the electricity was interrupted, and she went home asking grandpa why people would blame him when electricity goes out. Poor child! I understand he said the next day in public, angrily: "Am I an electrician?". The President has no clue what the limits of his job description is! It is typical. Most of these never worked in the West, or for themselves, and don’t know what a job description is.
I spent about 4 years in my late 50s studying human organizations on this earth, to get a PhD under the school of Business & Technology; and the core vision of such studies was to learn how and what influences such as culture affect our behavior and mannerism in individual decision-making, in planning, in competing, in leadership. It was a puzzle I had to solve.
Steve, not to portend bad news, but I am afraid in your lifetime, perhaps, the nation may be subjected again to some form of external dominion and control. This time they will use a different vocabulary, not colonialism and not slavery. It may be something like a joint "Development Partnership in Strategic Management" (DPSM or simple DSM for Americans who like it shorter), in which our nations will sign contracts that make our Development partners assist (note the words) in the developmental strategic decision-making behind the President, and in share of the resources of the nation. They do it already in their complex contracts that people like former Finance Minister Osafo Marfo was reported not to have read one in German before they sign. I heard that in the Nkrumah days, when the Ministers went overseas to sign the contracts, their partners would bring some of the white prostitutes to serve drinks at table, with thighs exposed, and after a few drinks, the Africans knew how to do their game like that doctor in Kumasi who was Kufuor's Minister of Transport, Dr. Richard Anane. Euro-Caucasian or “white” peoples’ strategy has not changed much, but they adapt. They know how to use your weaknesses to gain strategic competitive advantage in everything, especially business. There are courses on Strategy - very interesting course study if anybody gets the chance and I will love to teach that course! Prof. Michael Porter of Harvard is considered one of the world’s foremost authorities and “strategy” and I have many of his books.
You watch and see. There is no way “white” people are going to pour their moneys into deadbeat places like Africa where leaders behave like this and then every ten years you file bankruptcy or HIPC and ask for the interest and even some of the principal on loans to be wiped out, etc. Whether the Chinese will agree to sit down together with the Americans or British is yet to be determined,, for they may be owed say $20 Billion, Koreans say $15 Billion, and Americans only $4 Billion, British $4 billion, Canada $2 billion, Australia $1 billion, Germany $3 billion, France $3 Billion and Spain, Italy, Netherlands say $1.5 Billion each. Most of the loans you hear for infrastructure construction - water, electricity, roads, go into private pockets! You may have to hang most of the people in public office on trees in the public arena, as Chaka Zulu did, to teach a lesson and reverse this trend and way of doing business in Ghana and most Africa!
I don't think we can continue as seen now, and those loans for water, electricity, roads, etc, will come due sooner or later. You think the Chinese contractors who were building the roads at Nsawam will not sue us for breach of contract when we did not pay them? You watch!
Nothing will ever change in Africa unless and until the young ones behind us make a concerted effort to work together and use one of two methods to effect change: (1) Preferably the rule of law, or unfortunately if push comes to shove, (2) a real people’s revolution as happening elsewhere in even in North Africa.
Kwaku A. Danso, PhD (Email: Dansojfk@gmail.com)
President-Ghana Leadership Union, Inc.(GLU), Moderator –GLU Forum