Ghana: The Way Forward – A Pan-Africanist Appeal
Gahana's independence arch
Ghana and Africa need millions of Kwame Nkrumah today to take us through the next stage of our economic independence. But the only way to produce millions of Nkrumah is when the youth study and understand what he has written.
Barack Obama (Accra, July 2009)
“We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans. ..We’ve learnt that it will not be giants like Nkrumah and Kenyatta who will determine Africa’s future. Instead, it will be you — the men and women in Ghana’s parliament and the people you represent. It will be the young people brimming with talent and energy and hope who can claim the future that so many in previous generations never realised.”
Ghana, Africa’s Shining Star
Since independence, Ghanaians on many occasions have made the nation and Africa in general very proud. From political stability, economic growth, sports, science and technological inventions, etc. Ghanaians have demonstrated their maturity and their determination to excel in every sphere of human endeavour. This has been demonstrated from post-independence to the 21st century. However, the positive side of this determination often escape the good books of history. This is because our African culture is often disregarded by those who write the history books. The African has been brainwashed to look down upon himself and boycott his culture: his food, clothing, arts, beliefs, institutions, his educational systems; all other products of human work and thought, and to a larger extent, his own domestic products.
In his book “Consciencism” (pg.63) Kwame Nkrumah thus wrote:
“Our history needs to be written as the history of our society, not as the story of European adventures. African society must be treated as enjoying its own integrity; its history must be a mirror of that society, and the European contact must find its place in this history only as an African Experience”.
Today, there is an abundance of evidence available in Ghana, which proves beyond all reasonable doubt that all kinds of inventions (just visit the KNUST in Kumasi), our ability to re-engineer all kinds of products, including producing cars in this country is no longer a dream but a reality. As Ossei Nkrumah wrote as far back in 2007, many Ghanaians have demonstrated the ability to manufacture cars right here in Ghana. This should be good news for any serious nation determined to succeed by relying on indigenous technology to advance its development. Many of these inventions have been well-documented in the various departments at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), including a number of polytechnics across the country. Yet, after many years, our determination as a government, a country and a people, to tap into these available capabilities, remains to be seen.
This attitude is why Bob Marley sung:
“…in the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty”.
The Concept of Domestication
Many years ago, Mr Dan Lartey of blessed memory, one of the political leaders of Ghana, proposed the concept of “Domestication” as the way forward, not only for Ghana, but for Africa as a whole. “Domestication”, in its simplest terms was explained by Dan Lartey as follows:
“Produce what we use; use what we produce.”
Of course, by this, he did not mean to suggest that Ghana shouldn’t import anything at all. However, Mr Lartey, like Kwame Nkrumah understood very well that an African nation like Ghana, which has over 70% of land that is fertile for agriculture, cannot continue with the habit of her usual importation of rice, chicken, tomato paste, fruit juice, sugar, cooking oil, shoes, tooth pick, and many others; when as a matter of fact, with the correct political mind-set, we as a nation can produce all the above items here in Ghana and export them abroad.
To emphasize this concept of domestication, even president Barack Obama when he visited Ghana in July 2009, had this to say:
“I want to see Ghanaians not only self-sufficient in food, I want to see you exporting food to other countries and earning money. You can do that.” (Barack Obama, July 2009)
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO), Ghana spends more than 1.2 billion dollars annually on rice imports, which rose from 121,000 metric tonnes in (1993) to 507,600 in (2002). As of 2010, this figure had tripled! Instead, Ghana’s domestic rice production has gradually declined so much in the past decade that local rice farmers in the country now produce only 30% of the country’s requirement with the remaining two-thirds, worth over $2billion always imported. In fact, the UNFAO, has repeatedly warned that Ghana’s over-reliance on imported rice is becoming a serious concern.
To understand the serious nature of this issue, first let’s take a look at a snapshot of a few Ghana’s imports:
1. Vehicles other than railway (14.1%)
2. Mineral fuels, oils, distillation products (13.8%)
3. Boilers, machinery, nuclear reactors, etc. (12.4%)
4. Electrical and electronic equipment (10%)
5. Cereals (11.1%)
Source: World Trade Organisation, International Trade Center
A second look at the above list reveals that, Ghana at the present condition has the technology and enough resources that should enable us completely abolish the importation of cereals especially rice, and begin the efforts to gradually reduce the importation of vehicles, machinery, and many more. Just take a trip to Accra and visit the Apostle Dr Safo Kantanka. The man has invested so much of his resources in the manufacturing of cars, tractors, various plants and machinery, TV sets, household appliances and many more. Above all, Apostle Safo Kantanka has invested so much in farming and schools! The man owns huge acres of farms across the country Ghana. Of course there are many other Ghanaians who are equally trying in their own small ways to contribute to the development of the nation in this regard. Some of them are in Kumasi Suame Magazine.
Also visit the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology and you will be amazed as to what you will discover at the various departments. At the Department of Physics, Mechanical/Electrical Engineering, etc. many discoveries have been made by our young students all of them, well-documented in their theses. Students have successfully designed and assembled machines, cars; they have designed and successfully assembled radio transmitting equipment. All what is needed is the right sense of leadership, the commitment to support these initiatives and Ghana could soon overtake South Africa. But what are we as a nation waiting for? Do we still need another 50 years before we take the first step? Ghana needs a policy shift. The time to act is now! Remember, if Ghana is truly determined to succeed, then “We’re only an attitude away from success” (John C. Maxwell).
If only we can take the first bold step, there will be huge employment opportunities that could follow to the benefit of majority of our unemployed youth. Just imagine if Apostle Safo’s tractors, cars, TVs, generators, etc. were to be produced on a mass scale. His tractors could benefit our farmers to boost their productivity. Taxes could be collected from the industries that will emerge out of these efforts. The benefits could redeem us from the sin of unqualified begging. But are we as usual waiting for him to die before we queue up to sing praises upon him? May God forbid! What such great men deserve cannot be a “befitting burial”. Mr President, please hear our humble cry. Ghanaians, let us believe in ourselves and take action. This will motivate the rest of Ghanaians both home and abroad to develop a sense of patriotism. There are many Africans abroad, with wonderful degrees, qualifications and skills. Yet, as the time goes by, many of them are wasting their lives abroad, doing all kinds of menial jobs: cleaning, washing plates/dishes, sweeping the streets of Europe and America. This shouldn’t be the destiny of the Black man! All what these people need is a little motivation to encourage them to come back home and help build Africa.
Your Excellency, after 55yrs of our independence, isn’t it possible for the nation Ghana to take the concept of ‘domestication’ very serious? Isn’t it shocking that Ghana in spite of our vast agricultural land, and though majority of the population’s main occupation is farming; yet the nation cannot produce enough food to feed her people, to enable us abolish this annual culture of rice and chicken importation? For how long must we continue to take loans from the IMF and the World Bank and use this money to continue importing rice and chicken? Mr President, have we forgotten so soon that many of us: MPs, ministers,Council of State, applauded Obama just a few years ago? Let us remind ourselves one more time:
“Aid is not an end in itself. The purpose of foreign assistance must be creating the conditions where it’s no longer needed. I want to see Ghanaians not only self-sufficient in food, I want to see you exporting food to other countries and earning money. You can do that”. Barack Obama (Accra July, 2009).
After three years, the question still remains: what measures have we as a nation taken to ensure that Ghana is self-sufficient in food and also has the capacity to export food to other countries? It is very sad that such measures have always been in “the pipeline” but never materialised. Unfortunately the MEDIA which ought to put pressure on the government to show commitment to these initiatives has deliberately refused to put up this topic for national discussion. Almost every day’s discussion on our radios and TVs have been dominated by issues about personal affairs of politicians whiles serious issues as raised above have often escaped the headlines. As we continue to look up to the West to ‘solve all our problems for us’ with aid, for as long as they can afford, let us also remember that Africa’s future is up to Africans. President Obama in a few years ago made it clear that Aid is not an end in itself. He expects to see Ghanaians not only self-sufficient in food; he wants to see Ghana exporting food, cars, to other countries and earning money. He knows we can do that. So what are we waiting for?
Mr President, I know you will like to see Ghana become industrialised in the next 45 years. This however cannot come by magic. For it is said that a journey of 45 years begins with a step. We need to take certain bold new steps from the year 2012. We cannot continue with the same old ways of doing things and expect to get a different result. Our current most cherished democracy much move beyond holding peaceful elections. We need to invest in our people on the field of science and technology. We also need to believe in ourselves. Yes, we can do it!
Henry Ford was right when he said:
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you are right”
Economic Policies: Ghana vs Others
Since independence, India and its people have been committed to the task of promoting the spread of science and technology as one of the most important elements of national development. Also, in the Middle East is Iran. Although the Republic of Iran has been under tough sanctions for the past 30years, the country has been able to make many breakthroughs in the fields of science and technology. Thanks to the concept of ‘domestication’. Today, with the commitment from the government, almost everything in the country is made by Iranians.
Here in Ghana, we do not even believe in ourselves. Almost every major project the government decides to undertake, it’s either awarded to a Chinese firm, a Korean company, an American or a British consultant somewhere. Your Excellency, I am not at all suggesting that the nation should not consult other countries in areas where our technical expertise are limited. However, the extent to which the local Ghanaian expert has been neglected is my worry. The sad part of it is that, in most cases it is the ordinary Ghanaian whose energy does the real work, while these consultants give mere ‘guidance & technical advice’. Fifty five years ago, Ghana and Malaysia, started from the same spot. But today, we all know where we are as a country. Instead of us to manage the assets which our founding fathers left for us, we have shamefully disposed them in the name of ‘privatization’.
Kwame Nkrumah as he wept wrote in his book: “The Struggle Continues” (pg.19)
“You have seen with your own eyes the shameful disposal of Ghana’s assets. Over hundred state corporations have been sold. Our state hotels are now foreign owned. The 20-mile rubber plantation developed by the State Farms Corporation has been handed over to the Firestone Rubber Company of America. The whole economic situation is the negation of in independent economic policy and a downward sell out to other American and foreign capitalist financial interests.”
Of course it wasn’t just after Nkrumah’s overthrow that Ghana’s assets were handed over to foreign companies. Between the third and fourth republic alone, over a hundred state assets have been disposed of, all in the name of ‘privatization’. Isn’t it shameful that Ghana’s gold and diamond are all foreign-owned? In spite of this, our economic woes are still not over. The gradual collapse of the textile, poultry and rice industries has seen more than 1,000,000 employees lose their jobs. Yet, we spend millions of dollars every year importing rice; creating jobs for other countries. The recent collapse of the Ghana Airways, Ghana Telecom and other state institutions has seen more than 200,000 Ghanaians lose their jobs. As a result, mass unemployment, prostitution, the rise in armed robbery, internet fraud (Sakawa), has become the order of the day. Ghanaians who ought to be proud, with the determination to serve mother Ghana and lead Africa, have rather become the most frustrated people on the continent. Many Ghanaians were therefore forced to leave the country for so-called ‘greener pastures’ in Libya, South Africa, Dubai, Europe and America. Just visit the US and British embassies every morning and you will see the queues for yourself.
Why The Need For a Policy Shift?
Nkrumah held that, “The basis of colonialism is economic, but the solution of the colonial problem lies in political action”. In his book “Towards Colonial freedom”, Nkrumah states the following:
“It is the aim of colonial governments to treat their colonies as producers of raw materials, and at the same time as the dumping-ground of the manufactured goods of foreign industrialists.”
On the political front, Nkrumah states:
“The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the trappings of international sovereignty. However, in reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.” (from the introduction, “Neo-Colonialism”)
“Evidence also shows how the World Bank and International Monetary Fund provided the advice and Technical Aid that halted and reversed work by the Nkrumah Government that was to bring relief and benefit to ordinary Ghanaians. Many have died through the resulting poverty and Ghana has not progressed much since that time”.
Many Pan-Africanists, African scholars, have repeatedly warned against the danger of Africa’s over-reliance on the IMF & the World Bank as the sole institutions that hold the keys to Africa’s economic woes. For many years, countries in Europe including Greece, Spain and Portugal have continuously followed the IMF’s economic directives. Yet, what has been the result?
Meanwhile David M. Walker, the former Comptroller General of the United States (1999-2008), (the man in charge of auditing the books of the US government) has said several times this year that the US is now exactly where Greece was two years ago (2010) in terms of its debt crises. Africans cannot continue to count on the West for aid. Ghana should make the efforts and take her destiny into her own hands. The West has spent over $1 trillion on ‘aid’ to Africa over the past five decades. However, according to a Zambian scholar and former Goldman Sachs banker Dambisa Moyo, author of the book‘Dead Aid‘, “No nation has ever attained economic development by aid.”
After 50 years of following advice from the IMF, are we better off as a people? Today, Nkrumah is weeping in his grave, as he reminds Africans of his message, written down for our generation and the ones to come:
“To allow a foreign country, especially one which is loaded with economic interests in our continent, to tell us what political courses to follow, is indeed for us to hand back our independence to the oppressor on a silver platter.” (Kwame Nkrumah, “Consciencism” pg.102).
The Way Forward
Too much time has been wasted. Nevertheless this is not time for blame games. It is time for certain bold and necessary steps to be taken today, for the benefit of the next generation.
- First, there is the need for a “National Development Policy”. To do this, all the various political parties must come together. The current polarisation between the political parties in Ghana must cease. Let us put the national interest of mother Ghana above that of any political grouping. The political parties, led by the government of the day, must together set up a body of local experts drawn from all the professional institutions in the country: engineers, architects, real estate developers, economists, businessmen and women, local experts from the various universities etc. This committee must be tasked to develop a national development policy program for a certain time frame, say 15 years. By so doing, it doesn’t really matter which political party is in power, the government of the day will always have an agenda to fulfil. Nkrumah’s government had First and Second Five-Year Development Plans which were successfully implemented. Unfortunately, the Seven Year Development Plans which had been launched on 11th March 1964 did not see the light of the day. Thanks to the CIA and their puppet NLC.
Second, the government must believe in the capabilities of the Ghanaian people. Where a clear business opportunity arises in the country like the recent STX deal, the government should offer the Ghanaian entrepreneurs the opportunity to tap into these opportunities. Even in situations where our local expertise is limited, a certain percentage of such contracts must be awarded to the local industries to enable them compete and grow. If this is done it won’t be long, we’ll be able to handle everything all by ourselves in the near future.
- Ghanaian inventors have been begging us as a nation-state to listen to their lonely shrill cries but we have always treated them with mockery. Onua Amoah was frustrated for lack of serious attention for his bio gas project. Many Ghanaian graduates as part of their various courses in the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology and the polytechnics have successfully, made some inventions and demonstrated their ability to re-engineer some products. All these works are well-documented. Others in Kumasi Suame Magazine, and in Accra, especially Apostle Dr Kwadwo Safo Kantanka have tried their best. It is time for the government to support such people with real annual financial commitments to enable them expand their works. This is just the beginning of many more wonders to come from such people. I bet you, if these men could count on the government to support them regularly, very soon Ghana could capture the West African market.
- The concept of Domestication as proposed by Mr Dan Lartey must be accepted as the best way to solve the food shortage crises in the country. This concept, if well nurtured will enable us adequately feed ourselves and wean ourselves of any foreign aid.
- Finally, Copies of all books written by Nkrumah especially “Neo-Colonialism” must be supplied in large quantities to all secondary schools, the tertiary institutions and the reading of such books may form part of their continuous assessments especially the secondary schools. Kwame Nkrumah spent his entire life, studying about Africa’s political and economic challenges. He also discovered and wrote down the best approach that must be followed to address these challenges. Yet these books have been hidden from the Black man for decades! Throughout my 10years studies in Ghana, I never came across even a single copy of any book “written by Nkrumah” in our libraries. Yet, every year the people of Ghana, most of them students celebrate Nkrumah’s birthday as a national holiday. Mr, President, Ghana needs millions of Kwame Nkrumah today, to take us through the next stage of our economic independence. But the only way to produce millions of Nkrumah is when the youth study and understand what he himself has written down; not what others have written about him. The knowledge as set out by Nkrumah is vital for the future of Ghana just as it was in the post-colonial era.
These measures are very necessary, if our dreams and aspirations for Ghana and Africa in the next 45 years are to be met.
Mr President, in your recent trip to Canada (2011) you advised African leaders to be bold and fight against their dependency on aid. It is my hope that this bold statement will be followed by immediate action. Ghana must show her determination to lead the continent as Africa’s shining Star. The history books must always place Ghana where she truly belongs, especially in the near future.
Long live Ghana, Long live Africa,
Long Live Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
The author is a regular writer and a political analyst on African affairs, and a well-known social commentator in Africa. He is the editor of “The Doctor’s Report”, your most reliable source of critical analysis on African affairs. Please visit his blog at: http://honourablesaka.blogspot.co.uk/ He is a strong Pan-Africanist, a youth activist and the founder of the “Leaders of Tomorrow”, a transformational and inspirational group of possible future leaders. He can be reached on Email:[email protected]