05.05.2002 Feature Article

The Country of the Africa Man

The Country of the Africa Man
05.05.2002 LISTEN

How would you describe the following leaders: Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Charles Taylor (Liberia), Daniel arap Moi (kenya), Frederick Chiluba (Zambia), Robert Guei (Cote d’voire), Muammar Gadhafi (Libya), General Sani Abacha (Nigera), Flt. Lt. J. J. Rawlings- (Ghana) and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana). The leaders mentioned and many more can be described as the power-hungry individuals. Power is sweet and additive in Africa. A significant number of Africa leaders have abuse and misuse public offices and instituted policies that have led to the lack of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, political and social stability. For Africa to succeed, Rule of Law, I mean constitutional rule with multiparty transparent elections are the key. I know the people of Ghana have congratulated President Jerry John Rawlings – (Executing judges gang-style) but let me congratulate him again moving from dictator to a democrat. Prof. Akilapka Sawyerr of the University of Ghana, in a speech delivered at the World Network Africa (TWN-AF) meeting in Accra, said “ There is no doubt that most of the socio-economic ups and downs Africa economies have experience over the past 20 years are not only due to adverse international policies but also due to political instability, bad governance and corruption in the rank and file”. I am glad that the basis of aid to African countries from now on is linked to good governance. As such Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, South Africa,……… can have more money from the western countries because they have shown seriousness towards economic reforms and democratization.
Talking of bad governance, look at our own Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s idea of one-party state, Nkrumah, president for life. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah one time said and I quote “ we would be hampering our advance of socialism if we were to encourage the growth of Ghanaian private capitalists in our midst “. Please readers, consider the above statement very carefully and compare it to the development of Africa now. It was bad idea which was not shared by most Ghanaians. At the time just before independent, there was a struggle between the CPP of Nkrumah and the NLM – the Asante (Ashanti) – based National Liberation Movement over the adoption of a federal system of government as against what we are still struggling with today. At that time, there were four states in the then Gold Coast (Gold Coast colony, Asante, Northern territories and the British Togoland). To me that idea of federalism was not bad at all, judging from what has happened so far to the present day Ghana. The federal system would have benefited Ghana significantly. At that time the economy was good and so the four states could have been stronger financially and better managed by the people themselves. The local communities could have been developed. Government could have been very close to the people and their voices better heard than from Accra. More businesses small and big could have been created at the local level and money could have easily been at hand. Far, far better and more schools could have been built with strict local control and therefore enhancing personal responsibility. With more businesses in the local and urban communities, lower taxes could have then led to the creation of personal wealth. A lot of advantages.
It is not the role of the military to rule a country, but it is the duty of the military to defend the country when things are going wrong. I will say again and again that 24th February 1966 was not a day of shame for Ghanaians as described in certain quarters. More than 60% of Ghanaians supported that uprising and still support it now. There was a crisis with the way Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was handling the political situation in Ghana. The situation at that time could not be changed by the people of Ghana simply exercising their democratic views and votes. By adopting ungovernable systems Dr. Nkrumah called for the 24th February, 1966 uprising. And so Dr. Kwame Nkrumah practiced bad government. Democratic governments must be transparent. It should not be a one-man’s show as it is now practice by Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
One R. Y. Adu…., wrote this about Dr. Kwame Nkrumah “ No one was born a criminal it is the society which turns men into criminals”. Guest what, who first became a criminal. Is it Nkrumah or the Society? Please judge for yourselves reasonable people. The guy further wrote “ For Nkrumah, a one-party state was a means of building a new post-colonial nation with very little hindrance in his way “.--- meaning to suppress your opponents, subject them to conditions which will make them incapable of voicing their views and competing with you. These types of tactics have been practiced and continue to be practiced in our mother Africa. If indeed he Nkrumah was popular and could win elections, was it then necessary for him to adopt those policies? I am not a Dankwa-Busia functionary even though for now I support the NPP government. May God bless our President Mr. JAK. He is doing a good job. When the PNDC lifted the ban on political parties, I was one of the few people who held the view that Ghanaians should give Dr. Hilla Limann the chance to finish his term to shame the PNDC. So I am not an all out fun of the Dankwa- Busia tradition. I am a democrat. I must say that I am not writing this article with the idea of opening old wounds or inciting democratically minded Ghanaians against any party but rather, I feel there is the need for Ghanaians and for that matter Africans to be reminded of the way things went just before and after independence and compare it to our present situation. One S. Kwaku…… in writing about the independent of Ghana, explained “ One has to keep in mind that Nkrumah had been elected as prime minister in 1951 and 1954. While the British were around, politics and political debate flourished. Sadly, once the British departed on the 6th march 1957, Osaygefo single-handedly launched the country into an unprecedented political recession from which we are still recovering”. This is the country of the Africa man.
The PNDC regime was wrong. Harruna Attah of Accra Mail Online wrote this in one of his articles “The coup (1981) then did not introduce any new and fundamental departures in Ghana’s political culture and that what one can see, 20 years on, is that it was just a disruption. A time wasting disruption”. The regime was wrong because at the time it took power there was a meaningful democratic structure in place so that even if the government was not doing well, Ghanaians had a means of voting Dr. Hilla Limann and his PNP out of office. There was not such opportunity for the people of Ghana at the time of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the event of 24th February 1966 uprising. I admire our first President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah for his love for the African continent and linking the independence of Ghana to the Africa liberation, but he is not my fun just as most of the Africa leaders mentioned above. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah can actually be likened to the present day Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
The greatest harms done to Africa and its people are Africa made. Look at the conflicts in Africa. In Sudan, there has always been an opposition between the north and south. The muslim North dominated political and economic power, drawing its strength from ethnic Arabs are fighting the South mostly populated black Africans and mostly Christians. Congo was a wasteland when Mobutu left power. Mobutu was one of the richest men in the world at the time of his death. What can we say about Ethiopians and Eritreans? Ethiopia manages to find and spend three billion dollars on arms and ammunitions meanwhile cannot manage to get food to feed it people. In Sierra Leone, rebels managed to kill some 80,000 people and chop the arms and feet of countless people. In Liberia, the economy is in ruins and near collapse. In Zimbabwe, the president of a human right organization called ZimRIGHTS was attacked by young militants of the political party currently in power (ZANU-PF) – guest who, Robert Mugabe is the leader. In Nigeria, Ibrahim Babagida and Sani Abacha had unimaginable personal fortunes. Nigeria is the worst case of Africa. It is very wealthy with oil and human resources meanwhile its citizens are suffering due to corruption. We thank God the country is now under democratic control and in good hands.
Currently, Ghana, Cote d’voire, Senegal, Benin, South Africa,….., have benefited from political change, it still remains true that numerous states in Africa continue to refuse all political reform and have mastered electoral and also constitutional manipulation. Africa opposition leaders need to re-examine their strategies and commitments to the people and to the democratization process, having in mind that the struggle for democracy and freedom in Africa is against well established and entrenched continental autocratic regimes, which most often control every media outlet across this vast continent and continue to use national wealth to run highly sophisticated political campaigns that are latent with intimidation, brutality and murders. For the democratization process to be effective and efficacious on the African continent, proponents of democracy and Africa opposition leaders will have to be dedicated to the development of viable institutions, which are necessary for the advancement of democracy in Africa.
For Africa to move forward, it leaders must have the following attributes: Peace loving, faithfulness, kindness, obedient to God, ability to serve his/her people, wisdom, love for the people and the work, honesty, decisiveness, outspokeness, fairness, impartiality, good character, ability to recognize one’s limitations, ability to listen and finally must be a democrat. Quoting again from our Ghanaian Prof. of the university of Ghana, Akilakpa Sawyerr, “ Time is apt for us to re-think and restructure our development paradigms based on the needs and aspirations of our peoples and we must do this fast and in collaboration so that we are not overwhelmed by the fast rate at which events are occurring in the new millennium”.
I have never read economics but in my view the macro-economics approach aimed at Africa development have not helped much particularly in Ghana and it is now time to pay urgent attention to the micro-economic activities. The policies of African governments must now be directed to the real people in the local communities of Africa. African governments must now listen to the citizen’s voice. African governments must now give real money (in the form of small loans/investments) to the local people to spurt their local small businesses and to bring about real growth at the local communities. African governments have so far done very little when it comes to investing in their local communities. Africa, we shall overcome. Remember all forms of human beings come from Africa according to a theory called “Out of Africa”.
YAW BOATEN MSc CHEMISTRY Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.