From Kojo Yankah, GNA Special Correspondent, Lagos
Lagos, Nov. 18 GNA - Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has remarked that Africa will develop faster if its leaders, intellectuals and the people rid themselves of the mindset that traditional institutions must be relegated to the background in favour of euro-centric and western ways of thinking.
He emphasized that the 21st century would belong to the African if 'our traditions were integrated into the driving wheels of development'. The Asantehene made these remarks as the Royal Guest of Honour at the seventh session of the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Lecture Series at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, in Lagos on Thursday.
Speaking on the theme: 'The Mindset Factor In Creative Transformation' alongside Former Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso and Mrs Tipper Gore, wife of former Vice President Al Gore of the United States, Otumfuo Osei Tutu noted that African states which, abandoned their traditional institutions had nothing to fall back on in times of crisis and tended to disintegrate when the central system collapsed.
Otumfuo, who was greeted with standing ovation at the end of his presentation, raised the question of 'corruption' and indicated that the word did not exist in any African local language. 'So, how did it get into our culture, and therefore into our parlance?' he asked. In his view, 'you cannot remove the mindset from the political culture which we have adopted', saying that one could not have a mindset disposed to corruption, or even tribalism, and still to talk about development.
As traditional leaders, the Asantehene emphasized, "ours is to think of the next generation, while the politician thinks of the next election" and "that is why we should be recognized in the delivery of social services to our people".
In his presentation, Professor Fernando Cardoso, two-term president of the Federal Republic of Brazil, credited with revitalizing the economy of the South American Republic, advised developing countries to integrate their history and culture into their development process. He gave an account of the processes adopted to bring down inflation in Brazil and credited the success to the 'multi-faceted and people-oriented approach' his government applied.
He stressed that economic growth did not necessarily mean development and that emphasis should be placed on the human factor. Mrs Tipper Gore, Mental Health Policy Advisor to President Bill Clinton, and Chair of Families for the Homeless, asked policy makers to ensure that mental health was taken very seriously in their scheme of planning. She also appealed to the larger society to rid itself of the mindset that mentally challenged people must be shunned. "If we show a little care to every mentally handicapped person, our countries will not be the same again."
The Chairman for the function, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, praised the vision and commitment of those who conceived the idea of the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation and the Lecture Series in honour of the late Chief Anyiam Osigwe and noted that, "'investment in knowledge and ideas in any society is the most enduring and strategic choice any privileged individual can make both to the present and the future of our society'.
Past Speakers at the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Lecture Series included Former British Prime Minister John Major, former South African President F.W. De Klerk, German Chancellor Helmut Khol and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
Earlier, Otumfuo Osei Tutu had paid courtesy calls on the Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Oba of Lagos.