When politics divides a nation, it is the media, civil society, academia, faith based organisations and independent constitutional bodies such as the Courts, National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) that must act to hold the nation together.
To that end, it is expected of these institutions to declare their interests if any and or take actions to maintain their neutral posture as far as possible to be considered as part of the solutions instead of contributing to the problems.
When these institutions take sides, but pretend to be neutral, objective or independent in the operation of their mandates, they promote unobtrusive but deeper divisions and exclusions that are more difficult to deal with than the obvious ones. In Rwandan, the conditions for genocide were “nurtured” for 40 years but it took only 90 days to claim close to a million lives. And the trigger came from a mindless radio station.
Last week I attended the “2018 AGGREY-FRASER-GUGGISBERG MEMMORIAL LECTURES” held at the Great Hall, University of Ghana. It was presentation of two nights of brilliant economic history of Ghana under the theme “Nkrumah and the Making of the Ghanaian Nation-State”.
The first evening’s topic was Nkrumah, Cocoa, and the United States: The Vision of an Industrial Nation – State”; and the second evening’s was “African Socialism; or the Search for an Indigenous Model of Economic Development in Ghana?”
Both papers were delivered by Professor Emmanuel K. Akyeampong, Ellen Gurney Professor of History and of African and African American Studies Oppenheimer Faculty Director Harvard University Center for African Studies.
I had two take-away (s) from the lectures. First; that Nkrumah’s state-led industrialization scheme which heavily relied on electric power from the Akosombo Dam had failed and second; that Nkrumah’s underestimation of the role of smallholder farmers killed the development of the cocoa industry, which would allow neighbouring Ivory Coast to overtake Ghana as the world’s leading producer of cocoa. The research was solid but the way forward was lacking and there was no room for questions and answers. You can imagine how disappointed I was.
But the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, in his closing remarks posed the question “When will the search for Ghana’s indigenous economic model end?” It was a question I thought I would get answers to in the lectures. Unfortunately, I left the Great Hall to continue with my search.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs):
While it is true that only two political parties have governed the country under the fourth republican dispensation, it is unconstitutional for any group or individual to overtly or covertly, deliberately or inadvertently, be seen to be promoting in words and or deeds a two- party state, when the constitution of the republic clearly prescribes a multi-party representative democracy.
Like academia, CSOs have made tremendous contributions in terms of knowledge from research. They have made recommendations in virtually every sphere of our national development. Unfortunately they have lacked the mandate to self-implement those brilliant recommendations as they are non-political, non-state actors and with no people’s political mandate to execute.
The inability of the duopoly in this 4th republic of 25 years, to utilise knowledge, analysed facts, findings and recommendations from the CSO sectors, which are often not political and objective is a pity. The last time the Rwandan President promised to share knowledge on how they are achieving their country with our leaders, I was not surprised. They have become the continent’s transformational development stars.
Indeed, the number of Ghanaian development consultants, mainly from academia and CSO sectors moving to and from Rwanda is huge. They are contributing knowledge and skills to the development of that country.
The media, like academia and CSOs, has a big role to play in our nation’s development. The media in Ghana is not lagging behind in the traditional role of information, education and entertaining. But the role of the media in the 21st century goes beyond these traditional roles. The media must be aware of the status of the country and be part of that critical team that should work to transform it into a developed nation.
Unfortunately, this transformational role of the media seems to be lost on many of us. Only few media houses and practitioners are setting the agenda. Much of it emanates from the politician and to my annoyance attention seeking politicians that the media must learn to ignore or black list because they are toxic even though sensational.
As we search for the indigenous economic model, it is important that academia, civil society and the media realise and appreciate the burden they must bear to get this country to where it belongs. In my view a movement is required of these three actors among others. Time is of the essence!
The Last Uprising
…with William DOWOKPOR (firstname.lastname@example.org)