10.01.2009 Feature Article

Why is Africa sitting still?

Ghana's Independence Square in AccraGhana's Independence Square in Accra
10.01.2009 LISTEN

I have been studying the American leadership selection process and transition with that of Ghana for a book in process, time permitting, and have copious notes. It is interesting to note that we are also not too bad, at least when I examine our demeanor and temperament for change also, save on the two items of (1) time appreciation, and (2) culture of planning (with time) – (which is the same thing).

The one major hindrance to our development and adaptation of the forces of change such as technology is the culture. Culture is the combined habits, mannerisms, behavior patterns, methods and systems of doing things and getting things done, even eating habits, finding food, accountability, marriage and other customs such as even communication among generations, and use of and respect for rules and laws, passed on from generation to generation. Culture, as Plato once said, is like being in a cave. One can get out of the cave from which one is born and enclosed if one knows how.

Our towns and cities that I looked up to such as Nkawkaw, Nsawam, Agona Swedru, have not changed much since I was a child and saw them over 50 years ago! Half a century and not much change! We will discuss that another time but most of you get the idea. Change will come, but we in Ghana do not seem to be in a rush for change. We don't push nature.

However, remember that these things in the article, about planning, having a transition team, time for the transition, are possible in the US because some founders, somebody, some group, thought long and hard for the nation some 300 years ago for the long term survival of America.

The results are so evident as you travel from town to another, state to state and observe the common culture of getting government to act on behalf of the people, and as they resolve disputes and alleged election frauds, crimes, how clean their bathrooms are kept as you travel and stop at various gas stations, and so forth using the rule of law, health and sanitation codes, accountability, etc, etc. America has perhaps ten times the crimes of any civilized nation and yet they are under some kind of auto-pilot management or “control” as people know what to do when in trouble, who to call, and what responses to expect from their leaders. I have never heard any American official ask a customer or citizen: “What do you want?” Attitude is part of culture. In the US as in most Western nations, use of the rule of law, technology, information and data storage and sharing, rights of people to complain, are the same across 50 States! Incredible education to develop a common culture among many ethnic groups of migrants in only 300 years!!

This is part of the mission and challenge why we formed GLU and I choose to spend so much on the forum! There is so much I have learnt that nobody bothered to teach me as I was growing up, and that applies to most of you also. It is our duty, I strongly suggest, to share and teach others so we can also be as decent and stand as tall as the Euro-Americans in the world! As I raised my kids and watch others raise theirs, I see the changes in culture as we overseas combine our changing culture of allowing free speech in our homes for our kids as we also try to discipline them, from eating habits between the extremes of that smelly fish called “koofiiwa” and “bomone” lifestyle to the modern forms of cheese, pizza, and Lasagna dinners (smile).

Folks, don't think 300 years is a long time – for some of us have seen 50 years already! Do you know that in another 50, it will be 100, and if you multiply that by 3 you get 300! Some of us have seen playing music from the Gramophone, to the Cassette on 4 track and 6 track tapes, and to the CD, the Digital Video (DVD), and now MPEG and digital laser Blue Ray coming.

Somebody posted once what America was 100 years ago - with deaths from malaria, typhoid, and all kinds of diseases, etc, etc and compared to today!!

Why does the town of Nsawam seem to be the same as I saw it 50 years ago! Why is Africa sitting still? Some of these white folks visit for vacation and they come back and say “Oooooh, Africa is so beautiful!” Really? Did you really like it? One guy went further and told my friend the other day, “Do you still have those huge flies in the Northern part of Ghana?” The morale? Be careful when somebody praises you. Find your own standards of human decency and behavior and work towards it. Never accept the mosquitoes, open gutters and lifestyle of mediocrity once you have seen better!!

I heard a story yesterday from a house guest whose son of 13 years came to visit for the Christmas and left yesterday. The ex-wife's mother exercised so much control over the daughter that they even took the son to Ghana without telling him and denied his whereabouts for several years, and changed his name to the husband the controlling ex-mother-in-law husband found for the educated ex-wife! In the mean time he was paying $600 per month child support the courts ordered every month and the money was being sent to the ex-mother in law for all these years. A problem occurred at the
American Embassy when the mother requested the son to return to the US because of the backwards conditions her mother was treating her son in. Well, when they presented the boy's Visa application, the Embassy questioned why the name is different from the birth certificate. The Ghanaian grandmother, an educated Fante woman who is running a multi-business set up with her daughter's money, did not think of this illegal transaction without the real father's approval. After pleadings, the Embassy refused. In the mean time they had verified and obtained copies of the birth certificate. After the father finally agreed to write a letter to the Embassy, they compared his signature and found he was the real father and granted the Visa.

This is a case study in culture and how people in different cultures use the rule of law or jungle laws to act with or without forethought, information data bases, analytical thinking, and planning. One can use this case in a Law class, Sociology class, or Management class to show how humans have organized their lives over the centuries and how contrasting behaviors show and human societies develop or fall behind in some jungles of humanity eating each other alive for simple raw power to steal public funds! Ooooops! Here I go again!

I have written a 11-page Recommendation for the President-elect and waiting till it's delivered before I make it public to all. In the mean time I have sent it to a few select people in a random drawing (smile). Anybody who wants to give an input is welcome to send me private email – however it's been vetted by a few already and delayed 5 days.

I have said for more than 12 years now that I entered forum discussions, that our campaign to change Ghana has nothing to do with the liking or not liking Jerry Rawlings, Kufuor, Akufo-Addo, or Atta Mills. We love all of them. It is our duty to point out and share some of the secrets of the white man we have been privileged to find. It is not because we are “larger than life”. No. It is because once born into Ghana, we are part of that life. Period!

If these elected officials take our advice, we shall help them. If not we shall be on the job of analyzing and criticizing – that is also a job for us to seek perfection in services as we have seen done elsewhere.

My first lecture for the day.

Kwaku A. Danso
President, Ghana Leadership Union, Inc (NGO)
Moderator, GLU Forum
Livermore, CA. 94551, USA

Ghana Leadership Forum.-