Sunday, 28 February 2010

The NDC Must Return Sudan’s Cash Donation Immediately!

It is hard to fathom why a Ghanaian political party that says it is guided by social democratic principles, accepted a cash donation of a little over half a million US dollars from Sudan (one of the most despotic regimes in Africa today), to help it put up a permanent headquarters building. 

The question is: Are we to assume that the Mills regime is not aware of the fact that the regime of President Al Bashir treats its black African population as second-class citizens – and that millions of black Africans in that country have had their lives turned upside down in Darfur and in parts of Southern Sudan, under the cruelest of circumstances? 

Does the government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) not know that mass-murder; brutal gang-rapes; unprecedented maiming of scores of innocent men, women, and children; are the abominable methods used by the regime of President Al Bashir to achieve its ethnic-cleansing agenda in Western Sudan? 

Are they not aware that the fence-mending exercise President Bashir’s regime is currently engaged in the areas of Sudan where its black African population is in the majority, is mere window-dressing by a cynical regime led by Africa’s equivalent of Adolf Hitler – to help it win the impending elections in Sudan?

The question we must ask, dear reader, is: Just who in the National Democratic Congress regime was the conduit for the cash donation from Sudan – and precisely what was the quid pro quo for the money?

The Mills regime must not associate our country with regimes in Africa which are despotic in nature – and where black Africans are treated as less than human in the continent of their birth. 

Does the government of Ghana not know that the members of the ruthless regime now in power in Sudan regard themselves as “Arabs” and superior beings – who ought to be allowed by the world to dominate Sudan’s black African population till the very end of time?

Has it not struck the NDC regime that if its own ministers had had the misfortune of being born in Southern Sudan or in Darfur, they would be treated as inferior beings by the evil rulers of Sudan, on account of their dark hues? 

 Let us be brutally frank, the Sudanese regime of the indicted war-criminal Al Bashir, is not the sort of regime a civilized nation like Ghana ought to be dealing with. Period. 

Why associate our nation with a reprehensible regime responsible for some of the most egregious human right abuses, committed anywhere on the surface of the planet Earth, I ask, dear reader?

 President Mills must ensure that the cash donation to his NDC party from the Sudanese regime is returned immediately – if he does not want his regime and his party to be forever associated with this odious and monstrous regime whenever the history of 21st century Africa is recounted by future generations of pan-Africanists. A word to the wise…

Tel (powered by Tigo – the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!)+ 233 (0) 27 745 3109.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Is Press Freedom Really Under Attack In Ghana?

It is a real pity that the over-zealousness of the Greater Accra Regional Police Command, which in the short space of a few hours, questioned; took a statement from; processed for court; and got him remanded in prison custody; succeeded in turning a self-confessed liar into a "free-speech-hero."

It is an outrage that an insensitive young man, whose foolish allegation that a loving father and husband who was nowhere near the scene of a fire, had deliberately set his own home, in which his wife and daughter were asleep, alight, has been embraced by those hypocritical politicians who occupy the minority benches in Parliament: on the basis that his arrest for the monstrous lie he told during a radio broadcast, meant that freedom of speech in Ghana was under threat.

What utter rubbish. What decent human being can fail to sympathize with even an enemy who had just experienced such a terrible tragedy, I ask, dear reader? That young man certainly deserves everything that is coming to him.

The real issue at stake, and what we all ought to be concerned about, is the unfortunate impression created by the unholy rush by the police, to have that silly young man prosecuted and remanded in prison custody.

It made many independent-minded Ghanaians (as opposed to the “My-party-my-tribe-right-or-wrong” myrmidon-types whose blind support of political parties is slowly destroying them!) feel that somehow they were acting with dispatch merely to please some influential individuals in society – when they should have been professional enough to demonstrate to the world that they are not mere tools of our ruling elite, but impartial enforcers of the law, and independent keepers of the peace: who had gone to a radio station to stop a mob from attacking it because a section of society felt affronted by the abominable statement it broadcast that a former president of Ghana had deliberately set fire to his own home.

Naturally, we must also condemn those brutish individuals who are wont to assemble at radio stations with (evil-intent), on such occasions.

There are some Ghanaians, including me, who loathe and despise former President Rawlings for continuing to insist that democracy is alien to Africa – when the yearning for freedom is no less strong in the hearts of ordinary Africans, than it is in the hearts of individuals from other races.

Yet, even I, and many who feel like I do about him, feel deeply for him and his family, for their terrible loss: and can empathize and share their plight on a purely human level.

What decent human being will play politics with the personal tragedy of a fellow human being? The real threat to press freedom in Ghana is the illegal use of zillions of cedis of taxpayers’ money by dishonest and crooked politicians to corrupt journalists and compromise the independence of media houses in Ghana, to stop them from playing their watchdog role in society, as the fourth arm of government.

That is what we ought to be outraged by. That, and the hypocrisy of the politicians who sit on the minority benches in Parliament – who put themselves beyond the pale in embracing a self-confessed liar: callous and insensitive to the extent that he was even prepared to falsely accuse a man who had just suffered a personal tragedy, when his family’s home was burnt completely in a terrible fire, of deliberately setting his own home alight.

Perhaps they can justifiably condemn the Greater Accra Regional Police Command, for their over-zealousness and lack of professional judgment (in the way they rushed that foolish young man to court with such indecent haste, without thinking of its political repercussions) – but they must never give anyone the impression that the Mills regime in any way represents a threat to freedom of expression in Ghana.

The bald truth is that neither freedom of expression nor press freedom is under threat in the Ghana of today. Period. Those who are on the minority’s side in Parliament ought to end their unjustifiable boycott of the proceedings of the house immediately, and go back to do what ordinary Ghanaians pay them so handsomely to do: represent them in the legislature. A word to the wise…

Tel (powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

President Mills Must Scrap The "Brand Ghana" Office!

I felt like weeping for Mother Ghana, when I heard the chap who is apparently in charge of the “Brand Ghana” office at the presidency, on Radio Gold FM’s popular “60 Minutes” current affairs programme, which was broadcast on the morning of 2 February, 2010. 

Hapless taxpayers’ funds must not be dissipated in an enterprise that amounts to a mug’s game. Surely, even little primary schoolchildren in Ghana know that a carefully crafted image for any nation in Africa today, is a pretty ephemeral thing – that could easily be ruined by just one negative event?

Perhaps the geniuses in the presidency who dreamt up this scheme for the wonton dissipation of Ghanaian taxpayers’ money, should ask some of those who went to Angola to support the Black Stars in the recent Confederation of African Football (CAF) tournament, just what they think about Angola: which spent tens of millions of dollars “rebranding” itself – and hear their negative comments about what many of them say is a fly-infested nation, afflicted by the most aggressive mosquitoes they have ever encountered; and the rudest and meanest security and immigration officials they have ever had the misfortune of having to deal with, on a trip outside our shores. 

Do the "Brand Ghana" chaps at the Osu Castle not know that neighbouring Nigeria also spent tens of millions of dollars “rebranding” itself not too long ago? 

The question is: What have they got to show for it today – thanks to negative reports in the international media about the recent tragic events in Jos, and the shenanigans of devious election officials and the corrupt, power-hungry politicians that that nation is awash with, in the just-ended gubernatorial election in Anambra State?

Ghana already has a good image abroad – and if anyone in the present regime wants to “rebrand” our nation and boost its image further, why do they not volunteer to do so themselves: using their own funds instead of public funds? 

Or, are the cynics amongst us right, perhaps, dear reader, when they ask if the office in the presidency responsible for “Rebranding Ghana” is simply a clever conduit for transferring taxpayers’ funds to: politically well-connected advertising agencies in Ghana and elsewhere; sundry public relations consultants worldwide; and the Ghanaian business cronies of the more dishonest officials in the presidency? 

Why do those who dreamt up that daft idea not simply volunteer their services to our nation for free, if they insist on rebranding a nation with a perfectly acceptable international image, I ask, dear reader?

For what it is worth, here is my own two-pesewa contribution they can have for free: Let the current government earmark some of the money it has put aside for the development of the three northern regions, and use it to construct an all-weather first-class road, from Tamale to the Mole National Park – and invite travel writers from leading newspapers from the US, the UK, and the EU, to visit what is one of Africa’s leading elephant wild-life parks, and write about their experiences there in their newspapers. 

Years ago, I helped Ghana's leading green travel and tour company, M&J Travel and Tours, to make the visit of a travel writer to Ghana possible, during the CAF 2008 tournament – despite the unfortunate attempt by fellow media professionals to make out to the UK newspaper concerned that I was some kind of a con man (whiles we were actually busy trying to make the visit happen - and despite the fact that I was doing so for no financial gain!). 

Perhaps if they care to, the “Rebranding Ghana” chaps in the presidency can look up the resulting article in the UK newspaper the Independent on Sunday here (they should cut and paste link to their web-browsers!):

Instead of spending zillions of cedis of taxpayers’ money paying adventurous para-gliders from wealthy nations to come to Ghana, so that a few politically well-connected travel agents and tour companies will make money at the expense of ordinary Ghanaians, why does the tourism ministry not rather convince mobile phone companies in Ghana to put up US $100, 000 as prize money, to stage an African para-gliding competitive event at Abetifi – to which those wealthy adventurous souls from the developed world can pay their own way to, to compete in for the US$ 100,000: and put Abetifi and the Kwawu Ridge on the eco-tourism map of Africa, that way? 

Will that not give us a good image for free, too? Is that not what one means when one talks about creative-thinking, dear reader? 

Finally, if we were to get our military to design an off-roader 4x4 safari-rally course around Ghana, could we not stage a world military safari-rally successfully in Ghana: to which civilian competitors too could compete in, for generous prize money donated by oil marketing companies in our country? 

Would that not help put Ghana on the world eco-tourism map too, dear reader? “Rebranding” Ghana at public expense is a mug’s game, and President Mills must not allow public funds to be spent on such a futile exercise: particularly at a time when ordinary Ghanaians are facing such hard times. A word to the wise…

Tel (powered by Tigo – the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109.