I felt like weeping for Mother Ghana, when I heard the chap who is apparently in charge of the “Rebranding 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 "Rebranding Ghana" chaps at the Osu Castle not know that neighbouring Nigeria also spent tens of millions of dollars “rebranding” itself not too long ago? Well, 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!): http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/africa/see-the-action-in-ghana-on-and-off-the-pitch-780345.html
Instead of spending zillions of cedis of taxpayers’ money paying adventurous hang-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 $100, 000 as prize money, to stage an African hang-gliding competitive event at Abetifi – to which those wealthy adventurous souls from the developed world can pay their own way to, to compete in for the US$ 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 a 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 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless “smartphone”: + 233 (0) 21 976238.