Of course you are absolutely right on both counts, Ohemaa. Democracy, with all its faults, is the best system of government known to man - and the yearning for freedom is universal: it beats in the hearts of Africans, no less strongly, than it beats in the hearts of people of other races. Kenya looms large in my thinking, these days - for, this is an election year, here, too. And the situation there, before the post-election violence, bears an uncanny resemblance, to our own situation, here.
The party in power, has favoured one particular tribal Chief, a man whose overweaning ambition and megalomania, offends many fair-minded people in our country - because of his meddling in affairs of state, at the highest levels. The impression one gets, is that as far as the few tribal supremacists (our local version of the odious white supremacists of the Western world!), who dominate the ruling party are concerned, no other traditional ruler matters in our country - a nation of diverse ethnicity. Then there is the unfathomable greed of our ruling elite - which has produced such huge disparities in wealth, in our country.
That beautiful nation could disintegrate if Odinga and Kibaki don't rise above selfish ambition. Most of the other tribes feel excluded and resent the domination of the Kikuyu. I feel particularly sad about the turn of events there, because I lived there for a period, during the late 70's, and have an affinity for Kenyans.
Such has been the rape of our nation by our ruling elites over the years, that ordinary Ghanaians must take drastic measures, if necessary, to ensure that our oil wealth is used for the sole purpose of bringing about social transformation, in our homeland Ghana. The regime in power today has tried to divide our nation, with its blatant and shameful tribalism - because it sees that as a useful weapon to help it stay in power.
But if it were to try to repeat the events that have led to the tragedy we see playing out in Kenya, in order to enable it hang on to power, or conversely, if the opposition NDC were to resort to violence, in order to deny whichever political party, won a majority of the votes in truly free and fair elections, from assuming power, there are enough patriotic young military officers, who will step in to save our country from being set alight, by the greedy ambitions of the hypocritical men and women, who have excersised power since 1992, and many of whom seem to think ordinary Ghanaians are fools. Hmmm, Ohemaa, let either the ruling NPP or opposition NDC, dare try to toy with the lives of ordinary people, by engaging in a violent fight for political power, after the coming elections in December - and "we will see!" ( as local parlance has it.)
And neither will we allow either of them to fritter away our oil wealth either, under any circumstances. We will never allow the windfall that our oil deposits represent, to enrich just a powerful few - the very people whose selfishness, dishonesty and greedy ambitions, has resulted in the impoverishment of Ghanaians and their beloved nation, over the years, since Nkrumah's overthrow, in 1966. Period.
Ordinary people don't want much, Ohemaa - all the average Ghanaian wants is decent and affordable accommodation; access to efficient and reliable utility services; an environment in which public safety is assured; decent and well-paid jobs; access to education and health-care; the right to live in peace in a nation devoid of political violence; and to be citizens of a nation in which officialdom is held accountable: both the career civil servant and elected politician varieties, i.e.
My initial reaction to your previous email was crafted in rapid-fire time - and might have been couched in intemperate language, I agree. But it did inspire the latest posting on my blog, Ohemaa - for which I am eternally grateful to you. A muse is always a treasure for a writer - even one living in far away England!
You must always remember that Africans have no illusions about Chinese intentions - and in their outrageous racism, they are no different, from those who colonised Africa, all those centuries ago and drew arbitrary boundary lines, which dismembered tribal homelands: and turned members of the same extended families, into the citizens of different nations.
The importance of China to the African who thinks, is that they offer investment in infrastructure, on terms we will never get from those Western nations that have made us empty promise after empty promise, in countless G8 summit pledges, which never materialise.
For the thinking African, adding value to the continent's raw materials, by setting up joint-ventures with the very best of the Chinese companies, is the way forward. Ghana, for example, has ambitions to regain its position as the world's number one cocoa producer.
However, thinking Ghanaians would rather that instead of exporting 1 million tonnes of cocoa beans, we struck deals with the Chinese to set up as many processing plants as are needed to add value to the cocoa here, and help get a surplus in our balance of payments, that way.
And rather than getting the Shells and ExxonMobils to rip us off, as the gold mining companies have done over the many decades they have taken wealth out of our country, we would rather our nation set up joint venture deals between our state-owned oil company and China's state-owned oil companies - and get better value from our oil that way.
Gold has been mined here for centuries, yet to date, none of the towns in the gold mining areas of Ghana remotely looks anything like Johannesburg. We will not let foreigners profit from the windfall that our oil deposits represent - and walk away when it is finally depleted: with Ghanaians and their nation, having nothing to show for it.
Ohemaa, we are pitted against a soulless monster, called Capitalism that has not an ounce of pity in it, as its seeks to satisfy the unfathomable greed that drives it. It has charm in abundance in the shape of the smiling Tony Blairs, charming EU presidents, and the countless smoothtalking carpetbaggers, out to seek their fortunes at our expense , by ripping Africa off - but none of the antics of neo-colonialism, fools the thinking African.
Never underestimate Africa and Africans, Ohemaa - the South African Boers, who believed they were the masters of the universe, and thought we were mere draft animals, put on this earth to serve them, no longer hold sway there. We (the thinking Africans!) will prevail in the end - and the African Renaissance will benefit all of humankind - not just Africans: for, we are neither selfish nor racist, as a people.
Stay blessed, dear friend, and write again, when you are not too busy!
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Hello Ohemaa, thanks for your email. Hmmm, my dear friend, all we need do in Africa, in order to free ourselves, from domination by ill-intentioned foreigners, is simply to trade more amongst ourselves - and allow ordinary Africans to live anywhere they want to, on the continent. It will make a huge difference to the situation of Africa, believe me.
As regards our homeland Ghana, yes, the endless and obscene toadying to the West often engaged in by our clueless and forever-genuflecting leaders, is costing us dearly, indeed. For example, instead of striking joint-venture partnership deals between the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and China's largest state oil company - and going to ask Venezuela's Hugo Chavez to show us how to safely rid ourselves of the predatory oil firms from the West, the Oxford-educated master of the universe currently in charge here, is apparently looking to "Norway and the UK," "for best practise," to quote him.
Of course if one understands the code language deployed in such circumstance by our too-clever-by-half ruling elite, what it actually means, is that they are scheming to set up a sovereign wealth fund, into which the oil revenues will be put (reference to Norway!), and clever and super-greedy merchant bankers and hedge fund managers, from the City of London, asked to manage same for Ghana (reference to UK).
But of course, those masters of the universe in the City of London, reeling from the sub-prime debacle, and impoverished by evaporating values of esoteric financial instruments, such as SIV's (special investment vehicles) and CDS (credit default swaps), of the loosely regulated "shadow banking market" (the so-called "light touch" of the financial services authority FSA!), will make minced meat of us, in no time at all. Hmmmm, Ghana!
It goes without saying, of course, that huge kickbacks will go to those appointing the UK fund managers, courtesy their cronies amongst our super-greedy and hypocritical oligarchs: the favoured high net worth influence peddlers, who will secure for the foreign merchant bankers, the juicy role of "financial advisers to the Government of Ghana."
Well, our political class must be careful not to attempt to do a Kenya here, before, during, or after, the December 2008 elections. For, a Ghana with proven deposits of oil and gas, soon to come on stream, is perfect and ripe for plucking, by determined and super-intelligent military officers, cast in the AFRC-mould.
A strike by the military, against our largely kleptocratic political class, were there to be the slightest whiff of election-rigging or post-election violence, to ensure that our country remains peaceful and stable: and does not suffer the Ivory Coast and Kenyan tragedies too, will be welcomed by the vast majority of of ordinary people - especially were all our politicians to be promptly arrested and probed by the military.
A majority of Ghanaians will give everything, for Ghana's oil wealth, to be placed under the stewardship of truly honest and sincere idealists, determined to use it for social transformation, in Ghana.
And were they to hear, for example, that the state was going to build 1 million good quality housing at affordable rental rates, for ordinary people, by the establishment of a joint-venture between the State Housing Corporation (SHC) and China's biggest government-owned builder, as well as indigenous real estate developers, in a transparent public private partnership (PPP), between competent parties, would they ever pine for the clever rogues, who have looted Ghana over the years, under the 4th Republic? Ohemaa, I doubt it!
Personally, if I was to make a wish-list for Ghana's well-being, the following would be some of what I hope would be the policies of our next leaders: First of all, let them scrap the 4th Republic - for, it is a fraudulent creature established for the sole purpose of enabling those who overthrew an elected regime in 1982, to metamorphose from a military dictatorship, which answered to no one, into an elected democratic regime, which often acted with impunity. We must replace it with a new 5th Republic.
I would also hope that we would use our oil wealth to provide free education from kindergarten to university for all Ghanaian children; build well-equipped modern hospitals in all the nearly 120-plus districts.
And to make for a more secure nation, one would hope that they would increase the size of the armed forces to 500,000 men and women by making it a largely conscript military force, and expand the police into a paramilitary force of 150,000 men and women.
And by decreeing compulsory military service for 2 years, for youth aged between 19 and 21, discipline will be instilled in our youth, who are our future; and I would urge them to give free internet access to all Ghanaians - and ensure an explosion of young local talent in ICT, to effectively compete, with the rest of the world - and create yet more wealth for ordinary people.In addition I would also bring down corporate tax rate to 10% to encourage enterprise; abolish personal income tax, to enable working people to benefit from their sweat; scrap the 4th Republic, and try, on a charge of treason, and jail for life, the super-sly man, who overthrew an elected civilian regime in 1982.
And one would then proscribe the fraudulent vehicle set up by his clever acolytes, to enable both themselves and him, to metamorphose, from a military dictatorship unanswerable to no one, to an elected civilian democratically-elected regime, given to acting with impunity: something that today it conveniently forgets.
One would then order a probe of all public servants and elected officials: And set about ridding Ghana of corruption, by trying all politicians and public servants who are known to have stolen public money through corruption - after forensic audits; and one would also set up a constitutional commission to draft a new constitution in readiness for a new 5th Republic, in which there will be clear separation of powers between the three arms of government - each of them independent financially: and paid separately from the consolidated fund.
And I would also strengthen all the bodies set up to deal with corruption and white collar crime by big wigs; nationalise all land in Ghana held by traditional rulers in trust for their people (and pay those bloodsuckers and confusionists, fair compensation at prevailing market prices); and above all, abolish that tribalistic and anachronistic institution - for good!
For, it is an institution that has only succeeded in keeping a majority of our people, chained mentally, to that pre-colonial world-view, underpinned by superstition and an adherence to tradition, and which from time immemorial, has only encouraged the preservation of a social milieu that frowns on innovation - and which, today, has made ours, a stagnant society, bereft of original thinkers: and full of self-seeking sycophants.
And the incredible thing in all this, is that we are at precisely a point in time in Ghana, and in our history, when an honest, super-intelligent, and sincere military man, a philosopher-king type of soldier, can do for Ghana, what Kamel Attaturk, was able to do for modern Turkey - because we will have the wherewithal to transform Ghanaian society, for the benefit of all Ghanaians, not to enrich just a few well-connected individuals and their families.
The fact of the matter Ohemaa, is that today, even the most unintelligent child in the Ghana of today, knows, that because of our anticipated oil wealth, Ghanaians have, for the first time in their history, as a united and modern African nation-state, enough money, to enable badly needed social transformation, to be undertaken!
Hmmm, dear friend, it is such a pity I am no longer an angry young man.I shall support any super-intelligent and sincere soldier, who seizes power after the December 2008 elections - if that is what is needed to save mother Ghana from a fate similar to the tragedy that has befallen Kenya!
Indeed, one can argue that in such circumstances, our military have a patriotic duty to stop our greedy and hypocritical political class, from plunging our homeland Ghana, into civil war and chaos, after the December 2008 elections.
Who, in Ghana today, does not know that there is no real difference, between the policies pursued by the two major political parties, during their two-term tenures? One has done a little better economically, because it is the only regime to have had our previous large external debt cancelled.
It then set about to dissipate wealth in the most outrageous ways, ever imagined.We must never allow our political class to let what has happened to Kenya, to occur here, too. That is why we must think the unthinkable, if necessary - for mother Ghana's sake! May God bless and protect our homeland Ghana always. Long live Ghana! Long live freedom! Kofi Thompson can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and by SMS text message on: (233) 745 3109.