Opinions of Mon, 19 Dec 200513

Travellers Without Destination

The Up-dated version of the Nkrumahs Development Plans is Found- not in India But in Ghana




So you are a Ghanaian? Then Akwaaba, for you must be traveller. Though your country is not and had never ever been poor. Our "repeated history" also reveals that our nation had never ever been in want of leadership. Why then believe that Imam, the Pastor and that soothsayer that our fortune is at abroad but not at home?


Consider the numerous castles and forts planted along our coasts. And how great empires of all times, still struggle among themselves to have trade links with us? What about the sparkling reward of ?do it yourself? beaming on the focusing face of the Osagyefo?


Geographically, we are well located. Yes, our homeland is not land-locked. We have the sea, rivers- big and small, gold, diamond, millet, forest and many, many more. We are intelligent and courageous Remember, among others the Sarbahs, Hayfords, Dankwas, Adjeteys and the Amus. And of course, we must never forget courageous Nana Asameni, "the first Ghanaian Governor?" and Obenefo Albert Oboahene Adu- the alter of Culture of Silence? And what about the Akatakyiemma, the Rawlings and the Osahene too?


Are we then not poor because we care seriously about that billions of beautiful birds in that bush that we could hardly lay hands on than that lone bird in hand?


True, you are suggesting nothing novel, for this sort of observation has often been made. The Holy Scriptures has it that, for the Kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. Unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several abilities; and straightaway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with same, and made them other five talents. Likewise he that received two talents. Faithful servants, Mathew Gospel accounts. So they were rewarded.


Thus notwithstanding the master's perceived shortcomings, they pitched on the foundation laid down for them and ultimately, benefited. Could this not be consistent with our own saying that had the "short-sighted" known that s/he would be the beneficiary of that adowati no a, s/he would have better smoked it well? So, to the abro man, who "despised", him and mercilessly mixed up the gold-nugget with sand, in that he was shrewd, and probably, a dictator, he said: " Thou wicked and " royal servant" , thou knowest that I reap where I sowed not .. Thou oughtest therefore to have put my [dwetee] talent to the exchangers... I should have received mine own nsihoo ." (Matt 25: 14-30)


This is why we may not disagree with Dr Charles Wereko Brobbey, the 2000 United Ghana Movement [UGM] presidential candidate. In a press conference, launching his party's manifestoes- A Fresh Start- Agenda For Ghana In The Third Millennium, the fine energy wizard said: ".. After (43) years of self rule... Ghanaians had perfected in the art of begging their colonial masters and fellow beginners to come and do everything for them. Almost the whole of our economic development programmes, says the former Volta River Authority boss, come from the generosity of the very people we fought to free ourselves." (Free Press, 25. -31 Oct. 2000, p.12) This may not be extremely bad. But you may also add, how could this be our balance sheet? There may be some odds, yes.

As for example, what Dr Nkrumah says in his Book- I Speak of Freedom: "Although most Africans are poor, our continent is [still] potentially extremely rich. Our mineral resources range from gold and diamonds to uranium and petroleum. Our forests contain some of the finest woods to be grown anywhere including our cash crops- cocoa, coffee, rubber, tobacco and cotton. As for power, which is an important factor in any economic development, Africa, says Osagyefo, contains over 40% of the potential waterpower of the world, as compared with about 10% in Europe and 13% in North America. Yet so far, less than 1% has been developed. This is why [sadly] we have in [Ghana?] Africa the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty, and scarcity in the midst of abundance." (William Heinemann Ltd., (1961), pp. xi-xiv) This is of course, a valid stale cheque.


But because a prophet is hardly honoured in his home country, as until recently that some of us "confessed" to the Voice of America Direct Talk interview, that as a young folks, we did not understand Osagyefo pretty well (?), consider this one too. Dr Claire Melamed, of Christian Aid, United Kingdom, had said that rules allow countries to get a better rate for turning cocoa beans into chocolate. But many developing countries [like ours] do not have the infrastructure, factories and resources to do so. And countries that sell just textiles, such as Bangladesh, will not get as good a rate as India, for instance, which produces its own cotton. This might not be news to you. But with the same welling of loss and sorrow pouring on our farmers less able to compete with producers from richer nations, flooding the market with the aid of their governments, which way forward?


Honestly, Christian Aid calculates that, without free trade, Ghana's national wealth in 2000, for example, would have been ?466 million higher than the ?2.7billion actually produced. In the same year, according to the report, our country lost the equivalent of ?24 per person in potential income but [sadly,] received only ?17 per person in aid. So we began importing rice in mid 1980s despite it being a major crop for our own farmers? (Metro Newspaper, London, Monday, 20 June 2005, p.5). Implying that our small-scale farmers and herders too, need qualitative technical agricultural support services, access to a range of input and an improved crop varieties, better storage and distribution facilities and livestock improvement, but which has for so long proved to be more problematic?


As odd as these seem to be the woes of a country that lacks these and easily abandons its infrastructures to rust and rot and import yellow corn, creating additional 30 parliamentary seats, is all but now, economically impossible? Yes, there is a limit to what can be deduced from text, or treated as consistent. So, we might arguably not pore over the text of Macbeth to determine the number of Lady Macbeth's children. But would it be a waste to attempt to discover from it whether Macbeth suffered from athlete?s foot?


It is on records that on 5 March 1952, when [Francis] Kwame Nkrumah became Prime Minister of Gold Coast, our homeland's Five Year Development Plan was launched. And through its implementation which you may also agree as an indication of the Osagyefo?s loyal stewardship, wishing only the best from the word go, here, Nzema Kotokoniba invested in the masses: So, 9 Teacher Training Colleges, 18 Secondary Schools and 31 Primary and Middle schools were built. In the Northern Territories, 10 new hospitals were built. And major roads linking Accra and Cape Coast and Kumasi and from Tamale to Bolgatanga, constructed (http://www.greatepicbooks.com/epics/november97.html).


The British, we are told, left no debts rather, bequeathed on us, a huge savings. So much so that our principal interest in this venture is not to question how many of such infrastructures were erected in the then five regions of Ghana after their113 years [1884-1957] of trusteeship? But in his effort to develop an equitable society, the 'Show Boy', launched a nationwide self-help schemes of continental importance. Consider, the proliferation of both traditional and foreign industries- the Volta Project, the Atomic Energy, the Akasanoma Plant [Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research?] and the "rushed" Job 600 Project that was heavily criticized for its initial fatalities and costs?


Had these state policies been strengthened and Farmers Brigade, for example, adopted in those decades, would they not have given us the exact economic shade that we are all now searching for? And perhaps not have spent decades of years in wasted endeavours?


To understand why these matter so much for our discussion, let us screw out what economists regarded as the main engines of growth. Scottish economist Adam Smith has written that productivity gains achieved through specialization are the secret to the wealth of nations. But for these gains to materialize, producers must have access to markets where they can sell their specialized output and buy other goods. Could this mean larger market, and greater scope for specialization? Today, new economic theories coupled with advertisement, transportation and patronage have brought local direct investment back to the forefront of Ghana development debate. Nkrumah made Ghana a destination of many.

But like the fate of our struggling state transport venture and peasant farming, we saw our future piercing in the skies like smoke. We shall travel no farther than to the early 1970s. It is unclear whether it was Lt. Col. I. K. Acheampong's regime where Sethra buses were herded on our roads only to be lost someday to the Kings of Kings Transport, in Odorkor, Accra. It was speculated [so handle this with care] that the Kings of Kings and its dedicated conductors were able to manage engineering problems even far more accurate than top- flight state engineers who sometimes, suffered simple bolt- and -nut tightening?


Probably not measuring up to that business icon- Nseribe, our business-concious Gyima & Co. proprietary skills, arguably, could have transformed Ghana?s barren deserts into marshlands? And what about Mark Kwofie Transport, the royal from Tsito or so, in the Volta Region? True, there could be many, including Henry- I shall Return, we guess.


But, depite all these sole-trading, even Akatakyie Farms, at Okatakyiekrom could not withstand the test of time. Could this not be answered, say, in the context of the law of diminishing returns, that states that whenever a variable factor of production is applied on a fix factor- land, output increases and later decreases? Here, we are attempting to advance that economies of scale with growth and development, hardly attract easily, with one another in Ghana? Thus, nicknames such as Alonte tie, Adjoa Nyanki, Kotoko annya ammo and won ntackle Polo, appear to us like that farmer in the Synoptic Gospel, whose seed fell on a good soil but bore no fruits and alas perished because of failed rains?


Today, how comfortable it is to travel on Dr Agyekum Kufuor's new buses. Arguably, this might not be different from that of Dr Limann, who also flocked our feeder roads with Tata buses. The only difference being the nation wide consumer co-operative union-the mechanism of distributing the then so called essential commodities, that sometimes, never reached their destinations? And also, unlike in Gentle Giant?s case- a stress-free journeys, buses break down sometimes mid-way or just after taking off? And part refund of our transport fares to continue one?s journey, as we all know, had hardly ever been part of our contract law? So, we are not surprised that some traders and commuters are still complaining of lost fortunes and appointments due to these sporadic but rampant stoppages which neither management nor paid marshals devoted time and attention?


While tourists, guides and locals blamed conductors of poor customer service, ineffective communication and curses and tribulations of personal enrichment by selling single tickets in halves to passengers but accounted little to shareholders, conductors cry of comptrollers' half-witted kaawo-kudi syndrome? But could absence of broad and reputable workshops, external workmen/women or an insufficient dose of local vigilance not have been some of the odds? Thus, to find a solution to our stewardships trap, to facilitate the development of our transportation infrastructure, why do we not need consistent mechanism to harness the capabilities of new ventures that could connect us to our roots?


We preach no paradise on earth. Not at all. But, if our transportation system undermines free movement of goods and services, impedes business growth, and facilitates choked traffic, then how could highly-praise foreign policies, health programs, improvements in research and teaching methods and even free education from kindergarten to university level survive? As for example, the King of Kings in Accra and Mangoadze Farms, on Winneba Junction/Agona Swedru Road and Kwamoso Farms, in the Eastern Region, suggest? Misery might not disappear because it is unlikely that selfless workers, supervisors, foremen/women and in a worst situation, even students, teachers, masters might exodus to more vibrant economies as Ghana experienced between 1966 and 1992?


So, you are suggesting that it is more important to be self reliance. And not to devote time and resource only on international transport network that lowers costs of punctuality. But also new endeavors such as searching the heroes in ourselves. Here again, restoration of technologies for agriculture and public utilities, and economic integration projects that focus on areas such as health inspection and do it ourselves (DIO)? Yes. How could our rural communities in our homeland, for example, enjoy sound health, if they were not connected to community sports, such as horse riding, ampe and personal hygiene? Thus, our Ankobras, Ayensus.. could also be tourist destinations?


But, why for almost 40 years, we have witnessed numerous economic commissions in our country, which miserably, focused little on what we actually have on ground, making it effectively more distant than what our development plan implies? How could our homeland afford this reoccurrence source of remoteness? Weak political institutions and politics of hate have proven to be infinitely more expensive problems for Ghana. These sadly, do not merely complicate our desire to develop at our own pace and strength or utilize effectively, our own resources. But has also troubled and prompted people in poor areas to travel to more prosperous regions partly because of an unending mass unemployment and uneven or biased distribution of national infrastructure and wealth?

The consequences have been bitter. Twice or so being expelled from Nigeria and once, beaten in Ivory Coast? Recently, even in Gambia. We have no forensic records on those who never returned. Some of our ideal women almost lost their prestige not only in our sub-region- Agege, Abidjan, Niamey or Ouagadougou, to remember but a few, but also in Libya. In some instances, it took the lamentations of brothers like Abirekyieba Kofi Sammy [Yellow Sissy Dey for Corner], Agyemang Pambour [Ama Ghana], before we knew of their plights and pleasures. Even masters we thought were passionate and caring without compassion, deserted us because of our ailing economy and future uncertainties?


Which is why today, the Akwamus, and probably, many of us, find it bitter in gulping, without tasting it, that ancient argument raised in that Ghana Education Service Textbook- Osabarima. Here, in the context of Nana Ansah Sasraku manhandling his own cousins- the Akuapeman and the Gas too? Here we are in Ghana, once known for its ideological and ancient mishaps, some have come to show their emotions more openly. As for example, in 1999, where the Chronicle, reported that the National Democratic Congress, have warned Akyems to remain in opposition and rot in under-development?


If a nation is to be built on the premise that the political elites of our traditional areas or ethnicity have to pilgrimage to the Castle and negotiate, politically, with the president for infrastructures, then where is our destination? According to the paper, Prof Danso Boafo, the then Ambassador to Cuba, himself an Akyem, advised that if Okyeman- here, Kyebi, Abomosu and Kwabeng, were to have its share in the national cake, which you too, we presume, may say they are entitled to, then it must stop chasing the then [stray] elephant? and come under its tower? (Chronicle, vol. 7 No. 139, 18-19 Aug, pp1&12).


Yes, considering the current widespread development wailings across our country, the Akyems might have not been the only people, who did suffer this primitive approach. For example, the Akwamus, the Denkyiras, the Kwahus, the Krachis and even the Ewes and the Asantes, to mention but a few, may still have their development worries? A travel with the Ghana Railway from Accra to Assin Fosu, Atieku, in the Central Region, or around Western Region, the home region of the first president, might even console the people of Asuo Yaa, in the Eastern Region, where Ghana recorded one of its worst rail disaster? Thus from Tumu to Discov, stretching from Aflao across central to Elubo, Takoradi within the borders of Ghana, how could we take refuge behind these cracked medieval walls? Does this distasteful ego not diminish this trumpeted peoples? power?


It should have come as no surprise to anyone of us, we guess, that some of the promises of the past century had been particularly hard to accomplish. So if today, we are told that a four member Mauritius Company Nine Stars Impex investment delegation flew into our country yesteryear to explore ways of stemming the ever increasing importation of sugar and alcoholic beverages and, claimed awareness of the failure of promising schemes at Asustuare and Komenda and its opportunities for the revival and development. Especially in sugar processing infrastructure, land and water resources. Despite the fact that Agricultural research into sugarcane in our homeland, as confirmed by the Agricultural Ministry, dates as far back in 1963? (Network Herald, 17. -19 Sept. 2002, vol. 122 p.1)


Cynics might decry this. Thus if our military historians, without regard to our future erroneously declare our country bankrupt, and become auctioneers and bidders and purchase for themselves ranches and transfigure their hamlets into villas, and mortgage our lives, how certain could the fate of our nation be? No wonder, Gold Coast, which for almost two decades, sat in banquet with Fidel?s Cuba, where in those days [ beneficiaries of Cuban Scholarship scheme might probably agree], every household had a full sack of sugar, still has to wail over sugar processing. To hammer the nail home if Rawlings? regimes were meant to be a safety-net designed for the weak and the oppressed in our society, then we may argue that our Chairman has left behind a net full of gapping holes.


Now, Ofie, we understand why despite bepowso hann and the Akuffos, Gyeke-Darkos, Nyantehs and the countless ones that you remember, Abotakyi is still a village and we still live in dark? And therefore, we have to desert, and pilgrimage all these 40 years looking for gold and water on the Sahara Desert, leaving behind our homeland for buy-and-sell investors? Brother John Loglo explains that the reward of a conscientious and faithful steward is great. They will enjoy happiness of the Messianic banquet. And happiness is the by-product of obedience and faithful service Loglo, J., Advanced Level Model Essays And Context on the Synoptic Gospels, (edn) (1984), p. 203)


So, today, Comrade Wayo, could be quoted under the heading, 'I Don't Fear Death! 'Am In Politics To Give Jobs To The Jobless in 100 Days.... America Is Behind Me'. Why should we not flock in our numbers to dine with him? In the Ghanaian newspaper, Motto: The Truth Cannot Be Hidden, with ornamented picture of smiling presidential hopeful, J. A. Kufuor, dwarfing serious- looking Finance Minister Kwame Pepra, labelled with the sub-heading 'Where Is The Gold Money?' And featuring in a colourful braces, a cap and a microphone firmly in his hand, presumably on a campaign trail, Mr Kofi Wayo, said: "For so long a time Ghanaians have been deceived by various political office holders..."

"The military who turn politicians overnight through the barrel of the gun to become politicians officials only lie to the [people] electorate by promising them many unbelievable things... Rawlings launched a revolution promising to bring happiness to Ghanaians. Today what the people of Ghana can boast of is a chocked economic activities which have paralysed the economic fibre.. ", fumed the ruling NPP former stalwart (The Ghanaian, Motto: The Truth Cannot Be Hidden, vol. 12, p. 1Vol. 12 p.1).


How time changes, our music idol, A. A. A. - we mean Akwasi Ampofo Agyei of Kumapem Royals, from Asante Mampong, once reasoned Big Brother, Damirifa Due, Due, Due. This is really true. Otherwise, no one would have dreamt of ex-Lower Saxony Prime Minister, Gerhard Shr?der, who launched his chancellor bid on job creation, and triumphantly kicked out the pillar of German reunification, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, in 1998, loosing in a parliamentary vote of no confidence. And subsequently, voted out of office in tears, even before his second term in office with not 3.5 million unemployed, as was the case of his predecessor. But this time, a hovering 7 million Volks out of work? A political impasse that has altered the notion that the best are not always from the West? As for the first time in Germany?s history, a pastor?s daughter, Angela Merkel, the Bio-Chemist, from then "Iron Curtain State" Brandenburg in the East, being cloned Thatcher.


In order not to look like that lizard that left its tail on a flight, and not to call a spade a fork but rather a spade, it appears the United Party (UP) tradition, where brother Wayo- the fine Lab our Minister that Ghana never had, had its umbilical cord, too, has neither discovered the memoirs of the Dr J. B. Dankwas nor that of Professor Kofi Abrefa Busias. So might arguably, also not build the Church, let alone a strong united Israel. And as the memories of we the electorate are usually said to be short, if God does not sabbath in 2008, then NPP, might escort its troops into the same trench that they reincarnated.


And the NDC, appearing to be waiting on the flanks for vengeance(?), and the NPP, which this writer too, has difficulty in reading its Development Plan but might not be prepared to go back for that brick that it rejected and has now become the vital stone for our national development, the Nkrumahist, might breath some sigh of joy in 2008. But only if they were to be in pole position to repackage Osagyefos? never-outmoded-and- never-in limited supply product for our emerging market? Thus not to be preoccupied with party symbols and definitions of who an Nkrumahist is? Where the life and works of the Osagyefo, who this writer, is a greater admirer but a bitter critic, speak volumes for itself? Yes, the fact that Julius Caesar named Octavian as his heir rather than Mark Antony, probably contributed to the deterioration of relations and eventual civil war between Antony and Octavian.


However, stewardship is still our problem and must be learnt and taught if the little that we have were to be preserved. And not to be taken away from us. After all, there is no better place as home. In short, we need to reflect on Jesus? teaching in the parable of the conscientious steward. Thus when the physical presence of Jesus is withdrawn, the disciples would be like stewards on the great estates of Palestine, bound to absolute obedience to their Master and with complete authority over all the other servants?

Asante Fordjour
Student, Department of Law, Governance and International Relations, London Metropolitan University, UK, writes from Freie Und Hansestadt Hamburg, Germany


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


Columnist: Asante Fordjour

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