No Way to Neocolonial Tendencies, Former Prime Minister Romano Prodi!
By Cletus D Kuunifaa
The notion that any individual could come to Ghana in the name of democracy and floats ideas or thoughts around, expecting government to adopt them baffles my mind. The other day, Mrs. Cherie Blair, the wife of a former British Prime Minister was spot-on on the need to create an African Arbitration Centre in Accra to deal with issues of individual business and mining concerns and government on the continent. To an extent, her concerns should be looked at in good faith against the backdrop of what is unfolding in Kenya.
That a legitimately elected President would be dragged to an International Criminal Court (ICC) defies logic. Is it another machination from the West to maintain their control on African leaders by way of delegitimizing them? So many questions pop up for answers regarding the Kenyan issue. Did President Kenyatta win the mandate of Kenyans to govern? Did ICC assume that the opposition party in Kenya did not exploit the opportunity to castigate then presidential contestant, Mr. Kenyatta in the run up to the Kenyan elections and yet he won the elections?
That sends signals to all and sundry that President Kenyatta is well liked by Kenyans and it is only Kenyans who can solve their differences, I bet, through a reconciliation process. Yes, the reconciliation process worked in South Africa and in Ghana and availed people the opportunity to express their grievances and concerns for redress as a consequence of which victims were compensated and the matter has since been laid to rest in both countries. In this respect, I do think former Prime Minister Blair’s wife suggestion is a good idea, worth trial, isn’t it?
What about former Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s ideas and thoughts? The former Italian Prime Minister was in the country as a UN Special Envoy to deliver a speech touching on the concept of democracy and stated that Africa must practice its own democracy. He said, “Democracy was not global and thought that with democracy, we had mastered some basic identical rules like elections, alternative power and transparency, but then, that each nation must find its own way.”
My understanding of democracy is that it is a holistic concept, one replete with laudable ideals. These ideals and values are milestones that each nation aspires to reach. That is the reason why democracy is a long journey to take on, a never perfect concept, although nations work assiduously toward perfecting it. In this regard, Ghana must be wary of such ideas bandied around so that the gains consolidated so far on democracy, are not diminished by adopting hook, line and sinker such tinkered ideas.
The former Prime Minister then explained that “French democracy is good for French people, and American democracy is good for the people of America; therefore African countries cannot be trying to adopt these types of systems to apply to themselves since the demographic are totally different.” Is the former Prime Minister forgetting that democratic values are the same the world over? The American democracy is a model for so many countries because it has been tried and tested for about 200 years and they are yet working toward perfecting their union. Indeed, the recent Government shutdown in America is a case in point that showcased that even the world’s greatest democracy is an experiment toward perfection! So is France working and improving on the ideals of democracy throughout these trying years.
Ghana’s democracy has been tested for about 50 years now. Quite frankly, but for the democratic process in Ghana having been rudely interrupted by military juntas, Ghana could have been in an advanced stage of her democratic experience. Therefore, I was expecting former Prime Minister Prodi to insist on embracing the ideals of the concept, while signaling warnings that it is not a perfect system, but a long journey so to speak, and require the building of institutions to improve and perfect it.
But that did not come from the former Premier. What we, Ghanaians will not do is to entertain some kind of ideals and thoughts joggled around purported to be akin to our African problem. We will and should not entertain them because we have come too far as a democratic nation on the continent.
It is not inappropriate to emphasize that even though our experience of this democratic journey had been marked with military takeovers, we are on track. As a matter of fact, considering 50 years of democratic practice in Ghana as compared to the over 200 years in some western countries, gives much hope for Ghana. Ghana is definitely on track and there is no turning back! All we need to do as Ghanaians is build the right institutions and enforce the rule of law.
By the way, why will western countries adopt same democratic values which are benefitting them, and then turn around to suggest otherwise for African countries to follow? Isn’t what is good for the goose good for the gander? Aren’t the ideals of democracy the same everywhere? Isn’t democracy a concept that nations are working assiduously toward achieving?
The Professor then stressed that “Political integration is far from Africa and that the African Union’s focus on political integration is good, but it may not be like Europe. Because of the complexity of ethnic problems and the fragility of the borders, I have always been very careful to try to understand the tradition that must be inserted in African democracy; type of enrichment to democracy that this ethnical tradition can give.”
Surely, this assertion has no merit and is wrong just as the complexity of the African ethnic problem is over trumpeted. In fact, political integration has been and currently ongoing in the name of African Union, ECOWAS, SADC, and the other numerous blocs of groupings on the African continent.
As for me, time is of essence here. Time is needed for democracy to sustain and endure. Time is needed for any political and economic integration to bear fruits. The European nations in their bit to emulate the United States of America hurriedly went through a unification process with all their might with all their ethnic and economic problems which have left much to be desired. We read about the cracks, fixtures of the EU every day. We read about the bail outs of some of the EU nations as a result of disparity in the strength of their economies.
We recently read and heard about their differences and yet they are seemingly trying to unite for a common purpose according to Mo Ibrahim, the European business mogul. We also read and know about the ambivalent British position as to her membership to the EU. These readings and happenings make us to arrive at a conclusion that Professor Prodi’s thoughts and ideas must be examined carefully; it appears they are contradictory and furthermore, he might have delivered the speech, ostensibly to justify the trip sponsored by his employer. So, as to the content of his lecture, we do not need any neocolonial tendencies!
By Cletus D. Kuunifaa, Long Island University, LIU Post, New York. Can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or Follow him on twitter @ckuunifaa
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