I read the well written critique of Paa Kwesi Nduom (Ghanaweb Thursday May 3, 2007), written by a man who claims to be a Hotel owner called Calus Von Brazi. The name suggests the author may be one of the perhaps wealthy foreigners in Ghana and as such I should not make fun of it. It sounds good to me. I personally consider inputs like that as very relevant to how our society is working, as by those who may share other cultures and of course can afford broadband service costs in Ghana to contribute to our global debate on Ghanaweb.
I wrote a short comment in the comments section under the article and I want to elaborate a little for us all since such carefully written critiques of politicians and well written response are very rare in Ghana. Very hardly do you find politicians, including our own old friend Dr. Kofi Apraku, coming forth to give a very precise and to-the-point defense of accusations and charges. Very soon, if a politician does not provide quick response to charges, within a short period, the image is cemented and a reputation is affected sometimes for a long time, and perhaps a political career broken.
I have to say that the American proverb made popular by Hillary Clinton, that “if it sounds like a duck and looks like a duck, it must be a duck” comes to mind. Politics provides an avenue for speculators and wonna-bee political analysts to formulate ideas that sometimes are fanciful dreams. Our nation and culture in Ghana thrives on myths. No man can become a President without some kind of myth, usually false but good enough for children to attach some super-human aura around the man to be voted for. Since the 1235 AD when the ancient empire of Ghana was in its heights and considered one of the richest in the world, according to Professor Felipe Fernandez Armesto (1999), our culture does not seem to have changed that much if one examines it carefully. Our leaders, Kings and Chiefs, have created auras, communication and status gaps, and super-human myths by speaking through interpreters. In the time of Nkrumah when some of us were children we heard that Nkrumah was such a wonderful man he was married to “Mami Water”, the sea mermaid. In other words he was not a normal human being. Dr. Busia and Dr. Limann were not lucky with myths, but then Dr. Busia was alleged to be such a brainy man he taught Abrofo, “white” people at the University. The way he spoke English with British accent won his some browny votes also. Kofi Annan, to honor his for his work at the UN, has to be given a name nobody can pronounce. That is our culture! Today, our newspapers need a myth for any potential leader and some of our colleagues have ben called Doctors when in fact they never completed their doctorate. I believe Chairman Rawlings was given two doctorates, and President Kufuor also has received some Doctorate degree or two, as if without that title a man could not sincerely check corruption in Ghana and usher is his Golden Age of Business with modern electricity.
Hon. Paa Kwesi Nduom, well, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, waited for too long to respond to these rumors in Ghana which I heard during my 2004 and 2006 visits. I hope his response here rectifies his reputation. I personally find Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom a refreshing politician, but complex. Maybe that is what politics is all about. We all may have our strengths and weaknesses, but for sure a man who managed a company for an American as partner in Ghana, and made money the old fashioned way, i.e., "earned it", before going into politics, has far more respect in my books. He has created his own myth, right!
In addition to these, he is the only politician, besides Hon. Asamoah Boateng in the early days, who reads Ghanaweb and even replies sometimes, a sign that indicates that he seems to imply is concerned about his image and what people say about him and politicians. It appears he is trying. Whether this is indicative of his intent to run for any higher office or not is immaterial. At least the man is savvy enough to have a website. He has not completely returned to the kind of conditions that my brother-in-law described a long time ago as “fufu and beer” lifestyle. He read foreign news and he at least seems to use the Computer and the Internet. In my research in Ghana I was sad to discover that most Ghanaians in the so-called executive levels do not even use the Computer and Internet regularly. I found the PC always covered when I visited a friend’s office and in the third time when I poked the question, my style, he told me he was protecting it form the dust. Hmmm!
Folks, I judge a book not by its cover. I don’t know any legislations Paa Kwesi has promoted to help Ghanaians in the Diaspora, of which he was one not long ago. Most of those returning home form the Diaspora soon forget their folks struggling overseas and it is not good record when you know others are levied an illegal and extortion of duties and taxes amounting to 100-200% of purchased cost, and pretend like you are not involved, because you have already crossed that gate. It would be nice for a person who at least knows what a computer is and can do to become president. We are tired of those who still live in the boondogs of time and think the only think that counts is dishing cedis in envelopes or bags of salt to the majority villagers and winning elections, when in fact they cannot figure out what an acre of land is or know the difference between $20 million and the price of a Toyota Landcruiser. Ghana deserves better, and at least in that regard Paa Kwesi will be a new breadth of fresh air. However, it is important for us to know what he can do for us and not what he can do for himself. He has been a Minister for 7 years now and we want to see action more than a nice smiling broad face.
If I am touch on one issue, I personally have issues with the MCA and don't share the begging philosophy of the NPP which he seems to support or share. Also the strategy to loan farmers C1 million to C2 million, the equivalent of $100, perhaps simply because $100 in Bangle Dash worked, is simply not smart enough. It's a simply a disaster waiting to show failure. My sister calls it “Gye-ko-didi”, meaning chop-money as we call it in Ghana. Business loans should be restructured to help these poor people expand their business and earn enough to pay their kids school fees and get out of poverty. It is not a political gimmickry. Whatever we say, the Hon. Dr. Paa Kwesi tries, and seems to listen also. He may seem confused about choices and where he stands. However, listening, if he can sharpen that skill, is all one can expect of a politician these days. At the 2008 elections, it will show as who is the best and can convince people the best. It may not be who is the smartest.
Can Paa Kwesi Nduom be a viable President? Of course he can. He is as qualified as any in Ghana if not more than most. On what ticket? That is the issue.
I may not be in a position close enough to offer the man advice, but personally I would like to invite him to join other progressives who have formed a new party called GHANA NATIONAL PARTY. He can compete like all honorable men and women who choose to pass through GNP’s strong ethical codes to the MP or Presidential gates.
I advise him to read the Manifesto and see if he can be an independent man, not relying on Nkrumah's name for political gain, but doing his best for nation to honor what Nkrumah stood for. After all Paa Kwesi Nduom cannot convince anybody he is a Socialist. Let's be honest enough. All those who are using Nkrumah’s name to stay on the CPP have to examine their hearts if they sincerely are in tune with the needs of the people as Nkrumah was.
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(Kwaku A. Danso is an Engineering and Management Consultant, and an Entrepreneur in Fremont, California and East Legon, Accra, Ghana. He is also a writer, Columnist and Political activist. He is the co-founder in 1991 of GDRP before the ban on political activities in Ghana was lifted in 1992, the co-founder and Executive of GNP, a registered Party in October 2006. He is also President of the Ghana Leadership Union, Inc. (NGO) with the global Internet forum called GLU forum. He is the author of “Leadership Concepts and the Role of Government in Africa: The Case of Ghana” (2007) published by Xlibris).
Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.