“Our way, The Way, is not a random path.
Our way begins form coherent understanding.
It is a way that aims at preserving knowledge
of who we are, knowledge of the best way we have found to relate to each, each to all,
ourselves to other peoples, all to our surroundings.
If our individual lives have a worthwhile aim, that aim should be a purpose inseparable from
(Ayi Kwei Armah: Two Thousand Seasons.)
JULIUS NYERERE’s Tanzania had Ujama”, while the South Africans had “Obuntu”. Far from mere slogans, these are development philosophies based on the cultural values of the people of those countries. That, unfortunately, is where Ghana has missed out all these years.
We came very close to getting it right one time ago, during the Acheampong era, with “Operation Feed Yourself”. It was a state-driven initiative focused basically on increased food production through large-scale farming. Agriculture is already a venture being undertaken by a vast majority) of the Ghanaian population, so the response was enthusiastic and the outcome simply overwhelming. Bumper harvest, lots of food for the nation and surplus for export.
What happened afterwards, however, was that we lost focus as a nation, strayed off the path as a people. The consequence was one crisis situation after another until we found ourselves where we are today. It should not be out of place; therefore, to suggest that we as a nation go back and draw useful lessons from that past experience (“Sankofa”). For us, the only path out of the woods lies in internally-generated strategies.
Experts say that development engineered from within is more sustainable than one externally-managed. That development efforts stand a greater chance of succeeding if they are founded on the indigenous socio-cultural realities of the given society or nation.
Check it from Mahathir Mohammed’s Malaysia, Japan, India, China, Korea and the other “Asian Tigers”.
Those countries have made giant economic strides because they have been able to fashion out development paradigms that are in conformity with the reality of their various cultures. Placing reliance mostly on local products rather than imported commodities, as well as nurturing an export-driven economy, have been key principles in those countries.
Next door in Burkina Faso, they seem to be making headway towards overcoming some of their key developmental challenges because they rely more on local initiatives, and plan in accordance with the realities of their peculiar circumstances. Even though that country’s resources do not match those of Ghana, the people live more comfortably on what their natural environment provides.
Fast food joints along the streets of Ouagadougou serve fresh locally grown vegetables with boiled beans and “couscous” (gari-like cereal) rather than offer anything continental, and the people patronize them with relish. With steadfast leadership, consistency in policy implementation, a determined and hardworking population, and prudent management of available local resources, Ghana too is capable of making similar strides. We only need a starting point from where the nation would chart a positive/sustainable direction into the future.