I said a prayer to thank Providence for two different reasons, as I watched Cable News Network (CNN), in the early hours of July 15, 2009. The first reason, was that in his “AC- 360” programme, in which he interviewed US President Barrack Obama inside Cape Coast Castle, Andersen Cooper, did what some of the innocents abroad now running our country (and into whose hands Nkrumah’s Ghana has now fallen), will definitely make a complete hash of – if they go ahead with their madcap idea, of, as one little-big-wig in the ministry of tourism put it (if I remember the quotation correctly, i.e.): “…seriously marketing Ghana to wealthy African-Americans…” That cloud-cuckoo-land idea, by one of the more clued-on princes amongst the many pampered princes in Clueless Inc. (all of whom have been given cushy sinecures in the new administration), will end up sending hapless taxpayers’ money down the financial equivalent of a black-hole, as sure as day follows night: in an Alhaji Munkata-style junketing trip across America at our expense – with eager officials (of the type blessed with provincial Antoa-Nyame mindsets) traipsing round America “seriously marketing Ghana to wealthy African-Americans” at vast expense to Ghana’s hapless taxpayers.
(Incidentally, our new rulers have now earned themselves the designation “Clueless Inc.” a thousand times over – for not learning their bitter lesson from the past: and rushing right back into the smothering embrace of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), instead of making the Chinese our development partners – in the real sense of the word (used to describe partnerships of equals) – using the joint-venture business model: in which the best-resourced Chinese state-owned companies in the appropriate fields, partner their Ghanaian state-owned counterpart companies, such as the State Housing Company Limited and the Ghana Railways Company Limited, for example. Surely, by leveraging Ghana’s sovereign bonds, which we can issue to the Chinese government (as a form of a collateralized future receipts-type insurance), in exchange for their bankrolling the building of 500, 000 affordable houses in each region of Ghana, which ordinary Ghanaians can then rent at fair rates, and to create a nationwide railway network too (perhaps the Chinese can build, operate it for say twenty years through the joint-venture vehicle, and then transfer the completed network to the Ghana Railway Company Limited?).That way, we can develop our country on our terms: without being manipulated by others: so as to fit into the hidden agendas of sundry neocolonialists, can we not, dear reader?). Will that not see railway lines being extended to all Ghana’s regional capitals painlessly (from the point of view of taxpayers), for example? Why did the new Mills administration have to rush into such a political cul-de-sac by opting to work with those interfering neo-liberal free-market Shylocks instead of with the ever-helpful Chinese, one wonders? Hmmm, Ghana – eyeasem oo: asem ebaba debi ankasa. But I digress.) Let those in charge of tourism in our country, as well as all those who prattle on endlessly about what Ghana can gain from President Barrack Obama’s trip to Ghana (in terms of its global media coverage boosting our tourism industry, i.e.), understand one thing clearly: The foundation-work that has to be done in order to grow the tourism sector in a sustainable manner, must be done right here in Ghana not abroad – and it most definitely does not include wasting money advertising on CNN “like Nigeria and Angola have done” either, to quote one of the many geniuses and bright sparks who appear on the radio and TV current affairs programmes in our country, and who also double as social commentator-cum-sages, whom I heard in a TV Africa current affairs discussion programme (if I remember correctly) a few days ago.Not when we can get free coverage by them by doing some creative thinking.
Is it not the case, dear reader, that perhaps all that might be needed to be done to get Ghana on the radar screens of US eco-tour companies and in the West generally, would be to get President Mills to invite American celebrities who the US and global media follow assiduously, such as: the pop superstar Madona, and her small cross-cultural tribe of multi-racial children; yesteryear’s right-wing Queen-Bee, clueless Sarah Palin, and her family (well, if for nothing, just so that that empty-headed woman, whom Senator John McCain, yesteryear’s “that-man” conservative-superman, incredibly believes can lead America – when one would even have to worry if she ever became the president of our tiny country Ghana, let alone the world’s only remaining superpower – gets some experience of the Africa that she apparently thinks is one country); Oprah Winfrey; Will Smith; the basketball trioka of greats: Kobe Bryant, “Magic” Johnson, and Mr. Jordan; and the African-American poet, M. Angelou, to visit Ghana with their families as guests of the government and people of Ghana? They can all be honoured by Oguaman at a ceremony in a colourful durbar: so that the government can make up to those Chiefs and people of Ogua and Edina, who, sadly, were unable to meet President Barrack Obama – because his security detail apparently worried about his attending the durbar that Oguaman had arranged to honor him: and cancelled it at the last minute. They could do the entire slave-route from the north (taking in Mole National Park, and calling to pay their respects to the successor of the great and greatly-missed Otumfuo Opoku Ware11 (may his kindly soul rest in peace), at the Manyhia Palace, in Kumasi, on their way to the Cape Coast and Elmina castles on the coast. Above all, the new administration must put into place an effective and sustainable plan, which will enable them adequately resource all the district administrations in Ghana, so that they can clean our country, and rid our cities and towns of the filth we are slowly being engulfed by: and keep them clean permanently, going forward, into the future.
A clean Ghana is really key to growing our tourism industry – and if Ghana continues to remain as dirty a nation as it currently is, then we might as well forget about tourism ever becoming a truly significant foreign currency earner. That is why some of us are beginning to grow a little sick and tired of having to read and listen to all that fanciful and endless talk about “how we can package Ghana for investment after President Obama’s visit” that now dominates Ghana’s intellectually-barren media landscape. (Incidentally, can anyone beat President Kufuor’s astonishing statement to Jim Clancey, who conducted an interview with him in CNN’s “Inside Africa” programme – which directly followed Andersen Cooper’s “AC 360” that morning – that President Obama had come to “liberate us mentally”? Liberate who mentally, one wonders – the many corrupt Busia-Danquah super-lackeys of Western commercial interests amongst our political class, perhaps? Why doesn’t that infernal Godfather of the Busia-Danquah stooges for neocolonialism speak for himself: if he is going to say such negative things about the proud citizens of a nation in which there are many Nkrumaists and pan-Africanists: who have abundant self-belief: and don’t need to be mentally liberated by President Barrack Obama or anyone else? Heavens, how pathetic can one get, I ask, dear reader? But I digress.) For the benefit of that pampered prince of Clueless Inc. (ensconced in one of the ministerial offices renovated for vast zillion-cedi sums by the clever sister-in law of one of our previous ruling Clueless Inc.’s most prominent and vocal princes, Mr. Asamoah Boateng), who wants to embark on a trip to market Ghana to wealthy African-Americans, I shall narrate the experiences of a real live American citizen who actually came to visit Ghana, last February – and went back home not very impressed by our country: and who will not be returning to Ghana any time soon, and will most definitely not be recommending it to any of her circle of friends who all love to travel abroad regularly. She is currently on her second holiday this year – in Iceland, not Ghana.
Why so, you might wonder, dear reader? Well, that dear friend from Scranton, in Pennsylvania, was put off by: the unbelievable filth she saw everywhere she went; the shocking sight of grown-up men and women defecating on beautiful white-sanded beaches right across our coastline; being caught up in Accra’s endless traffic – and forced to breath in polluted air from poorly-maintained vehicles, which ought to be off our roads in the first place, if those who are paid to conduct roadworthy tests on vehicles, actually did their jobs well : and which belch lung-destroying smoke; the lack of infrastructure countrywide; and the endemic poverty that one sees everywhere one turns in Ghana. That is the reality of our country – and those who lead our country must make sure, if they want our country to attract responsible tourists who will recommend Ghana to others, when they finally return to their home countries, is to ensure that we always have: treated water from mains water pipelines available daily in properties nationwide; we have reliable electricity available round the clock nationwide; and above all, that defecating along our beaches is outlawed immediately – and that the law against it is vigorously enforced. If we have all that in place, then Ghana will definitely be ready to welcome millions of responsible tourists from around the globe (not only from America) – that is, if in addition to all the abovementioned prerequisites for growing our national economy’s tourism sector, our leaders also take a keen interest in the task of making our cities and towns clean. One hopes they will think of “packaging Ghana” along those lines – and that Ghanaians will stop going on and on so: about the so-called benefits to Ghana from President Obama’s one day trip, here. A word to the wise…
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