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17.02.2003 Feature Article

The Epiphany of Jurassic Joseph Henry

The Epiphany of Jurassic Joseph Henry
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Rhapsodies On 'Kindness' - Verse 15 In one of my earlier rhapsodies, I paid homage to the senility of the dinosaurs of the Wofa Jak regime. But I made a special provision that, often, within the mutterings that emanate from the senile mind, one can discern some lucidity. I even gave the example of my own father as an illustration of such lucidity. Little did I know then, that, Jurassic Joseph Henry, Senior Minister was about to vindicate me. He has, by his own words, in the 'evening of his physical, professional and political life' experienced the epiphany that has been occasioned by a paradigm shift in his thinking of economic development in Ghana and Africa. In the twilight of his long perennial pretension to the presidency of Ghana, it has suddenly dawned on the Senior Minister that without 'technological change and industrialization' there will be no economic development in Africa. And he is strutting his new found knowledge in the Nigerian capital and waxing peremptorily paternalistic to an admiring audience of 'Chiefs the Economists' that the 'emancipation of Africa will come through technological change". But, He is Henry, Joseph Henry, His austerity budget brought us Kutu Acheampong, And Kalabule, and 'Fawotobegye' Golf, Jurassic Henry, Joseph Henry Not that the Senior Minister said anything new. The need for technological change and industrialization are concepts that many governments have at least paid lip service to, and some have even attempted industrialization plans based on varying degrees of understanding of these concepts. As Joseph Henry himself reiterated in his epiphany, for example, Nkrumah's industrialization plan was only an import substitution program based on imported industrial plants, imported technicians and sometimes, imported raw or semi-processed materials. No wonder as he says, today 'different interest groups are fighting over the carcasses" of these industries. What is profound about Joseph Henry's offerings is his assertion that, "One needs a paradigm shift that would transform those initiatives into new and powerful tools for development". He was referring to his view of NEPAD from the point of 'structural chan! ge' of development and technology, leading to high levels of productivity'. For most African statesmen, politicians, and public officials, a concept of development that hinges on the export of more and more 'bananas and meat', as Joseph Henry himself put it, has been ossified into their psyche. For such kind, the idea of industrialization based on a build up of technology and machine building capability seems a distant, daunting and implausible undertaking. This, we believe and sincerely hope is the paradigm shift that the Senior Minister was referring to. Still, He is Henry, Joseph Henry, Accused coup plotter, sentenced in absentia, Everlasting contender, Senior Minister. Jurassic Henry, Joseph Henry. I have never understood what 'Senior Minister' means anyway. I mean, in every cabinet there are senior ministerial positions like Finance, Defence, and Foreign Affairs, but this lone star Senior position thing seems weird. I have tried to make some sense out of it and I should like to share it with you. At the very least it just might shed a little clarity on the illusive matter of 'Senior Minister'. Defense Minister is equivalent to the Minister for Defence. So is Finance Minister equivalent to Minister for Finance. Likewise, Privatization Minister is equivalent to Minister for Privatization. So then Joseph Henry, Senior minister could only be the Minister for Senior! There, I hope the issue is sufficiently clarified now. Personally, I like his other title, Head of the Government Economic Management Team. That is definitely more befitting of his Economic Revelations. The question is, if the Senior Minister knows about technological change and industrialization, why is he presiding over an economic management team that has mortgaged the development process to the World Bank and the IMF. Surely, more exports of cassava starch, joromis, batiks and cashew nuts do not represent the paradigm shift that will bring the fruits of industrialization to Ghana. Or maybe, as we suspect, Joseph Henry just had the revelation and in time we shall see Wofa Jak's government unleash an industrialization program on Ghanaians that will be 'KRA BE HWE! For still, He is Henry, Joseph Henry, Minister of Senior, Senior minister, Chairman of Wofa Jak's tottering team, Jurassic Henry, Joseph Henry. Alas! Jurassic Joseph does not make it clear how Ghanaians and Africans are going to achieve this 'technological change and industrialization'. In his presentation he makes some vague reference to "the relocation of economic activities from Europe and other first-world countries", but he quickly abandons this wishful thinking by acknowledging that this is precisely 'the fear which is obviously at the neck of all resistance to change among developed countries...." As to a program of action, the Senior Minister can only call a 'conference of African intellectuals, policy makers and men of action in business to seek a new paradigm of economic growth" Mr. Senior Minister, all that these people will turn out is 'the need for institutional investors who will float bonds and present computer models of your Revelations. What you need is a conference of Ghanaian engineers and scientists! They wil! l tell us how to build steel plants and fabricate trains and busses. I was going to suggest that Wofa Jak should declare a National Day Of Whipping, so Ghanaians could line up his Ministers and whip them one by one for non-performance of duty. Just like the 'cyto' teachers used to pull the football team's strikers to the touch -line and whip them if they missed an obvious goal. But Joseph Henry's new Revelations have prompted me to wait a little longer. Maybe something good will come from this epiphany. Forever then, He is Henry, Joseph Henry, Standing, undecided on the bridge, Torn between the dinosaur and Methuselah, Both are old, but only the one is wise, It's up to Joseph Henry to make a choice. Jurassic Henry, Joseph Henry, He is Henry, Oh Henry!

Kwesi Yeboah
Kwesi Yeboah, © 2003

The author has 34 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KwesiYeboah

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