I bring you greetings from our own Ghana, better known as Ogyakrom, the land of fire.
There have never been more contradictions in life than the last few days since arrival last Wednesday! I’m at a cafe since I am hesitant to get business from any monopoly that chooses to charge fees from an already high C250 per minute to C500 per minute but when you take service from them then it's cheaper, to C75 per minute. It seems you have no choice but to buy from the government. We must work to change that government monopoly! Graphic and Ghana Telecom and Ghana Water must be sold, but to Ghanaians!! Period!
My friends, life is tough here but it's our own creation: those inside want to lock you out and those outside are also thinking events will change by themselves or the old order can change itself. One has to decide what one can do in life for others and let the chips fall where they may. I came here with very little money and already went to the ATM machine yesterday for C800, 000. My wife thinks I am crazy and can't figure out what drives me; but she loves me as I love her, and I always seem to come out of nutty situations! I agree with her. How can I sit here complaining when a man who is a very skilled plumber who has done much work for my house has lost so much weight as I saw him because he did not have C400,000 [about $43] to go see a doctor!!! Rather he left his wife and children at home and he himself is staying at the house of a preacher man healer. I had no choice but to advance him C500k. However, my mind is more on! What we can change to change the system! Can we convince enough people to seek the change we all need? We will see.
Come oooon! Folks. You can talk all you want about strategic planning and all that academic stuff, but I have seen very few of these fine skilled workers, technician level plumbers, electricians, roofers, carpenters, who own their own truck or vehicle. Of the more than 40 I have employed here and paid through their own competitive bidding only the electrician has a vehicle and the furniture maker who has tremendously surprised me with his success. That is 2 out of 40 or five percent. In America - say Orlando, Florida or Fremont or Antioch, California, a plumber or handyman can make easily an average of say $35 per hour or say $5,000 per month. In Ghana a plumber pays 2.5% of every item he purchases, but when he is sick he cannot afford to see a doctor. My own niece, a police inspector, who was sick last year, would have died had it not been for the great hospitality of a friend who drove here to Accra to her family to take care o! f her a and admit her. I just heard today that in Ghana, a police at the level of Inspector would have to pay for all expenses till after the stroke before the government would refund her money. As such uncle had to dipo in again. Please read from Fred Kwaba, the initiator of the DENI program I mentioned to you [and seeking a qualified and willing woman] to help as part of the negotiation team.
Folks, I am here n the ground floor and I can say that there is such a lack of skill on the ground floor in the management sections also it amazes any one! First I have to report the good news: The airport toilets were very clean. I actually had to use the urinary and did not go there to inspect, but found it was satisfactory. I was even surprised to see the urinary pan was a stainless steel pan made n Ghana. It was ok, but from my very sophisticated eye from decades of working in American industry I could tell the lack of perfection. Who says one has to start with perfection, anyway! I was happy and had a little chat with the janitor who seems to have a full time job loitering around the place. I praised then and put a smile on his face. Yes, we need to stat making our own items and products in Ghana.
I go home the vening of Wednesday July 5th and went to bed at 3am after all the family chit-chatting and was waken up next morning to go to a radio station. I was on Ghana’s favorite political station CHOICE-FM being interviewed with two men that I had only met on the Internet and learnty to trust. Folks, the world has changed! Can you imagine in a 13 year period how the Internet has changed our lives. I met Ofori Ampofo, Chairman of Save-Ghana-Now, and Nana Darko Ofori, a Law Professor in the US and a Chief in Ghana to discuss issues dear to Ghana. Folks, some of us perform best unprepared, and perhaps starving helps also (smile)! After the interview and talk show there were many Ghanaian guys debating about the comments we made and answers we gave. One lady called Cecilia had called and insisted on getting answers as to our seriousness in staying the course since many were hoping for change. After we left and came back an hour! r later, I was introduced by the host to the nice persistent woman who had called and after reaching a meeting of the minds, and we left my sister told me she was surprised I could reach a friendly agreeme4nt with that lady so quickly. I asked why and she said "Hwee!! that lady. She is a radio personality second in popularity only to perhaps one Ama Beniwah Doe [the godmother of human rights in Ghana]". Well, I patted myself on the back for charm.
On Friday we were invited to a suburb of Accra I had never been before called Sukuula - beyond Dansoman. That was some show! A Moslem community where a woman was the godmother, not later had we arrived with our woman guide and patron than we were surrounded by more than 60 women and a few young men. The meeting was under an uncompleted house, with a roof open to God directly, except perhaps when it started raining 2 hours later at the end and Allah's time n Friday was being violated. Ofori Ampofo gave a talk about the need for change in Ghana and I topped it off with a few words about modernization and job creation for the areas using the government loans and Public Works. I usually give my unprepared speeches like I teach, directly to make sure all are with me. So I focused on that example for some time. It was incredible! We all left with a feeling the people are energized and the job has just begun - one ;and lord told me real estate is eyeball to eyeball. Well, grassroots politics is perhaps eyeball to eyeball and I think I love it!!
Cheers and all the best,
Please read the Ghanaweb article. My time at the care is up. Kwaku
Please note what the Minister said: "He [The Minister] said the external debt stock which stood at $6.3 bn at the end of 2005 is expected to decline significantly to $1.9 bn as a result of the positive effect of the Multilateral Debt Relief International which provides stock cancellation from the Bretton Woods" (GhanaWeb, July 8, 2006).
Let's hope these words will be evaluated in 10 years form now. It was 1994 when some of us were workign on tryign to get his debt bought off at 10cents ot the dollar and let Ghanaians and other Africans in their countries own the debt in exchange for assets in their countries. The leaders would not see any sense and agree to this, since they can be forgiven. Today we own the same as we owed in 1994 and all these years paying interest only. Well,,, let's see.