Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
50 YEARS OF NATIONHOOD
– Achievements, challenges and the future
By: NANA SUSUBRIBRI KROBEA ASANTE
When on March 6, 1957, Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah and his colleagues enthusiastically proclaimed the independence of Ghana from British Colonial rule at the Polo Grounds, Accra, all of Africa, the African Diaspora and progressive forces around the world were infected by the Ghana euphoria.
We all remember some of the historic and exuberant pronouncements of Nkrumah on Independence Day.
Liberation from colonial rule signaled
African rejection of subservience or dependency
The liberating force unleashed by Ghana’s independence would soon demonstrate to the whole world the competence of Africans to manage their own affairs and take their destiny into their own hands within the comity of nations. Liberation from colonial rule signaled African rejection of subservience or dependency. Ghana’s independence was meaningless unless it ushered an inexorable process of the total liberation of the rest of Africa.
Those were indeed heady days of great expectations. In the words of the late Professor Amano Boateng, “independence was expected to give us a means of participation and political self-expression at the highest levels of government and release the necessary forces for rapid economic and social development”. (Presidential Address: Proceedings of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1976).
Ghana’s potential to meet these expectations was eloquently captured in David Apter’s optimistic assessment (1963): “Richer than most, carefully groomed for independence with trained cadre exceeding those of far larger countries. … Ghana is regarded as having the resources, manpower and moral and spiritual qualities to set the pace and tone of political development in Africa”.
How far has Ghana lived up to these expectations?
Before reviewing our achievements, I would suggest that we reflect soberly and realistically on the challenges of nation-building and development in the past-independence era. Notwithstanding David Apter’s euphoric prediction, nation-building and development in Africa were fraught with formidable difficulties.
I would stress that “development” for the purposes of this address has to be approached in its widest terms, encompassing the political, economic, social, cultural and human dimensions. It is a holistic concept that connotes a lot more than economic development.
As explained in the Brandt Report, “statistical measurement of growth excludes the crucial elements of social welfare, of individual values not measurable by money. Development is more than the passage from poor to rich, from a traditional rural economy to a sophisticated urban one. It carries with it, not only the idea of economic betterment, but also of greater human dignity, security, justice and equity”.
The challenges of nation-building
The typical new African state was originally an artificial creation of the metropolitan power, encompassing a heterogeneous collection of tribes, and representing at best a colonial administrative or economic convenience. National boundaries were not referable to any criteria other than the accident colonial partition. This means that upon attaining independence, African governments were confronted with a situation in which the very existence of their respective nations had to be established as a meaningful concept.
Development was further bedeviled by poverty, disease and illiteracy and in most cases, a serious dearth of human and material resources. On this fragile foundation, the leaders of an emergent African nation were charged with accomplishing at least four Herculean tasks in their lifetime: First, to forge the bonds of unity and nationhood, and to foster wider loyalties beyond parochial, tribal or regional confines. Second, to convert a subsistence economy into a modern cash economy without unleashing social turbulence and economic chaos.
Third, to industrialize the country and to introduce a sophisticated system of agriculture, Fourth, to erase poverty, disease and illiteracy, raise the standard of living of the people, and in short, create a modern state with all its paraphernalia. Kwame Nkrumah proclaimed that he had to accomplish in ten years what the developed countries had achieved in a hundred.
This unprecedented pace of development and modernization could only be feasible, if at all, within a stable political framework preferably buttressed by a constitutional democracy; and there could be no political stability without a national political consensus.
Most African nations struggled to attain this consensus; the frequent incidence of coups d’etat graphically demonstrates the terrible convulsions through which African nations passed. Political instability obviously militated against the establishment of any articulate body of social or political values. Furthermore, it undermined the inculcation of healthy and meaningful human rights traditions and constitutionalism.
Since independence, African leaders and development practitioners have wrestled with the thorny issue of the efficacy of authoritarianism or democracy for development. I posed this issue as far back as 1966 as follows: “On the one hand, it is argued that the all-important goals of high standards of living and rapid economic development are best realized under a regime in which a highly centralized and authoritarian government, immunized against the excesses of opposition factions, had unfettered power to mobilize the resources of a united country into achieving the quickest results in social and economic development.
On the other hand, it is stressed that there can be no meaningful concept of progress in Africa that does not ensure respect for human dignity and encourage the widest possible participation in the decision-making process, and further, that the baffling problems of economic and social development can only be solved by utilizing all available intellectual resources not by autocratic regimes intolerant of sensible criticism”. (University of Wisconsin Law Review, 1966).
What are Ghana’s achievements against this somber background?
Survival of state and national unity
First, to cite the famous response of President Limann in a somewhat different context, we have survived! Ghana has survived as a national entity and as a fully integrated and functional state for nearly fifty years. This may not sound remarkable until you reflect on the fragile foundations of our nationhood, the disintegration of a number of nations or states, and the incidence of state collapse or state failure within the last few decades.
In our own lifetime, states such as Yugoslavia have disintegrated and disappeared as functional entities; Ghana does not belong to this category. Others, such as Somalia, have experienced state collapse, that is, incapacity to perform the basic functions of a state which minimally include maintaining law and order, providing national defence and establishing a framework for managing economic transactions.
Furthermore, Ghana unlike some other states, is not fragmented by civil war, or torn by civil religions, ethnic or regional conflict, although we cannot entirely dismiss the potentially divisive or corrosive effects of ethnic or communal cleavages, or uneven development in various parts of Ghana.
Closely related to the first achievement, that is, survival as state, is national integration.
Despite occasional strains, we succeeded in converting the artificial geographical creation of the British imperial power into one nation united by a common loyalty to Ghana and a national consensus on the basic values underpinning our political and constitutional order.
Although, from time to time, we are confronted with muted or open manifestations of tribalism, ethnicity and religious and political intolerance, sometimes fuelled by multi-partisan politics, we can say, with some satisfaction, that these tendencies have not seriously challenged the viability and integrity of our nation, as in some other countries.
Our Founding Fathers strenuously promoted national integration while denouncing tribalism and other sectarian approaches to national politics. That legacy persists today, and is reflected not only in the specific constitutional provisions articulating the ideal of national integration but also in the rejection of “tribalism” as politically incorrect.
We pride ourselves as a progressive unitary state divided into ten regions in which ethnicity, tribalism or religion as such is generally recognized as immaterial to the composition or our decision-making bodies, the distribution of national resources, the allocation of political power and the sharing of economic benefits.
The extent to which this ideal can be sustained is one of the challenges to be addressed later. But at least we can claim, without offence to modesty, that we have done better than most African states on this score.
Governance: Constitutional Democracy
Our third achievement, which admittedly did not come easily, is that for nearly 15 years, we have successfully operated a constitutional democracy under which there has been a peaceful transfer of power from one party to another. Although our political atmosphere is not entirely free of the phenomenon of “boom” noises, we can say that in the area of governance, we are zooming towards the target!
The old debate on the merits of authoritarianism and a liberal democratic regime has finally been settled in favour of the latter.
This achievement of relative stability will not be fully appreciated unless I remind you of the twists and turns of our political and constitutional evolution after independence.
The independence Constitution of 1957 was a compromise package between the CPP and opposition parties mediated by the British Colonial Secretary.
Our first President sowed the seed of
African Unity, Which has now flowered
into the Union of African States
It was a parliamentary system, with a Prime Minister, and a Governor General representing the Queen. The constitution embodied judicial review of legislation, guaranteed certain fundamental rights and allocated some power to the Regional Assemblies.
It survived for barely three years and was replaced by a robust presidential system in July 1960 (the First Republic), which imposed few restraints on the President or the Legislature.
In 1964, the Constitution was amended to establish a one-party state.
Nkrumah’s government was overthrown in February 1966 by Military and Police Officers who established the NLC (National Liberation Council). The NLC survived a coup attempt and handed over power to a civilian regime headed by Prime Minister K.A. Busia in 1969.
The Second Republican Constitution in 1969 was based on the Westminster model with a Prime Minister and a Ceremonial President (President E. Akuffo Addo). The Busia government was overthrown in 1972 by the military who established the National Redemption Council (NRC) under Col. I.K. Acheampong.
The military regime internally reorganized itself as Supreme Military Council (SMC) still headed by Acheampong in 1975. This was followed by a “palace coup” leading to the ouster of Acheampong and establishment of SMC II headed by General F.W.K. Akuffo in 1978.
On June 4, 1979, the SMC II was overthrown by Junior Military Officers leading to the establishment of Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) headed by Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings.
AFRC succeeded SMC II but handed over power later that year (1979) to a civilian regime headed by President Limann (3rd Republic).
The constitutional structure followed the American presidential system. In December, 1981 the Limann government was ousted by a military junta led by Flight Lt. J.J. Rawlings. The military established PNDC which retained power until 1993 when a civilian regime headed by President J.J. Rawlings was installed under the 1992 Constitution (4th Republic).
We can now boast a functional liberal constitutional order based on a multiparty system, which assures us, inter alia, peace, law and order, an independent judiciary, fundamental human rights and freedom of the media, accountability of the executive, Universal Adult suffrage, parliamentary oversight, a robust version of judicial review and a reasonable measure of decentralization.
With all our faults, Ghana is perceived as an oasis of constitutionalism, peace and stability in a very turbulent region.
Fifty years ago, Ghana was toasted as star and a pace-setter on the continent of Africa. We then lost that position in the wake of dramatic economic and political decline marked by several military interventions, undemocratic regimes and political instability.
It is the mark of the resilience of the Ghana phenomenon that we have recovered our star status and have been inundated with international accolades and are perceived as a pace-setter once more. No mean achievement.
On the international front, Ghana indeed did provide the impetus for the emancipation of Africans from imperial or minority rule. From The Gambia to South Africa, nationalist or liberation movements derived inspiration and sometimes concrete assistance from Ghana. The Ghanaian leadership continues to play a critical role in the realization of regional or sub regional peace and integration in Africa.
Our first President sowed the seed of African Unity which has now flowered into the Union of African States.
Our contributions to Africa went well beyond the process of political liberation. Ghanaian professionals provided technical expertise in all areas such as law, medicine, education, engineering and public service to the less endowed African countries grappling with the challenges of independence.
Ghana also served as a beacon of hope to the African Diaspora throughout the world. It had been asserted by political analysts that the African nationalist movement spearheaded by Ghana in the late 50s and 60s and the civil rights movement in the US mutually reinforced and sustained each other.
Ghanaian intellectual caliber was recognized in the international arena, both in the public and private sectors. Within the past 50 years, UNCTAD, the International Law of the Sea Tribunal, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank and finally the United Nations itself have been headed by Ghanaians.
Our compatriots have been entrusted with key positions in other international organizations such as the World Bank, major corporations and universities throughout the world. Much of this achievement can be traced partly to the excellent educational standards that Ghana enjoyed and partly to the resourcefulness, Intellectual prowess and industry of the individuals concerned.
Alas, we cannot confidently say that the high educational standards that propelled Ghanaians into excellence in the aftermath of independence have been sustained throughout the past 50 years. Our performance in the educational sector has been uneven. Nkrumah’s Government undoubtedly gave a major impetus to the expansion and democratization of educational facilities, particularly, with the inauguration of the free compulsory education for all children.
Since then, there has been a phenomenal increase in secondary and tertiary institutions since independence, e.g. Ghana can boast of six public universities, 10 private universities and some 500 public secondary schools compared with two universities, and a few dozen secondary schools at independence. Nkrumah enhanced local professional training by establishing the Ghana Medical School and the Ghana Law Schools in the 1960s. Hundreds of Ghanaian young men were awarded scholarships to study abroad just before and after independence.
Over the years, successive governments have paid particular attention to the structure and content of our educational system and have accorded high priority to it in the allocation of budgetary resources. There was the Education Act of 1961, which defined the fundamental privileges of education, including the prescription of compulsory education for every child of school going age. Among other policy documents and measures of succeeding governments are:
- The Dzobo Report of 1973, which proposed the JSS concept;
- The New Structure and Context of Education, 1974 (Copy from Minister’s Speech)
In the 1980s, the educational sector suffered from the general economic malaise besetting the country and Esi Sutherland-Addy, writing on the condition of tertiary institutions during this period, observed:
“Attaining university status in 1961, the premier university of Ghana established a tradition of university education which has influenced the national attitude to highest education. This University, together with the University of Science and Technology, and the University of Cape Coast, gained for Ghana the reputation of offering some of the best university education in Africa.
I then picture these institutions 15 to 20 years later, a mere shadow of their earlier glory, drained of teaching staff, lacking in equipment and teaching materials, housed in degenerated infrastructure, surrounded by an air of demoralization and incipient decay.
They are at the same time besieged with a growing demand for high quality service and public accountability. Something obviously has to be dome”
(Esi Sutherland-Addy: Reflections on the Creation of a System of Tertiary Education in Ghana, 1993 p.1).
The PNDC Regime instituted
Reforms to tertiary education in 1990
Something was done. The PNDC Regime instituted reforms to tertiary education in 1990. Prior to that, it had inaugurated the Education Reform Programme 1987/88 and the Education Commission Report on Basic and Secondary Education of 1987/88.
The Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education Programme (1996) was launched on the basis of the constitutional requirement that Government draw up a programme for the implementation of a 10 year programme for the provision of free compulsory basic education.
Education Trust Fund
The GETFund established under the GETFund Act 2000 (Act 581) had been a major source of infrastructural development or rehabilitation in educational institutions.
Some of the objectives of the above reform measures were realized. A paper by the Ministry of Education states:
“The implementation of these Programmes/Interventions over the years by the Ministry with the support of stakeholders, including NGOs and the development partners, has helped to expand access and improve quality teaching and learning, the supply of logistics, and curricula development, as well as motivate teachers”.
At the time of the report (2001), there were 12,225 Primary Schools and 6,418 Junior Secondary Schools with the total enrolment figures of 2,216,792 and 787,303 respectively. The number of pupils in the private education sector was 550,423. The Government at that stage embarked on a programme to rehabilitate 3000 basic schools throughout the country. Six selected districts in the three Northern Regions were to benefit from ¢42 billion.
Since 2000, the current Government has reviewed the educational system and identified certain weaknesses. One finding is that the quality of teaching at the JSS level leaves most students unable to acquire sufficient grounding in basic literacy, numeracy and social studies. “JSS graduates are therefore not able to move either to SSS levels of learning and attain internationally competitive standards or immediately into the world of work as promised in the 1987 reforms”.
Another finding is that despite lip-service often paid to the importance of Science and Technology, our tertiary institutions – particularly the polytechnics, have not accorded the appropriate priority to those subjects.
Government has initiated measures in the education system. These include:
i. the provision of Capitation Grant for schoolchildren which has dramatically increased the number of enrolment at basic schools;
ii. The proposed revision of the School Cycle to provide for a four-year programme at Senior Secondary Schools;
iii. The upgrading of one senior secondary school into a model school in each district and the establishment of science centres in 110 districts;
iv. The integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into the educational system in the light of the critical role ICT is expected to play in the transformation of the agro-based economy of Ghana into information rich and technology based economy; and
v. The boosting of technical and vocational training with the passage of the appropriate legislation.
The launching of the Education Strategic Plan ESP (2003-2015).
The ESP 2003 provides the strategic framework and guide to the education sector development. ESP is linked to the implementation of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) II and international commitments such as Millennium Development Goals (MDG and the Education For All (AFA) to achieve Universal Primary Completion (UPC) by 2015 (Hon. Paapa Owusu-Ankomah – Address to the Commonwealth Education Conference, 2005).
It will be evident from this brief survey that successive Governments of Ghana have subjected the educational sector to a penetrating scrutiny.
And yet certain troubling questions persist with respect to the following:
1. Equity: Anybody with the barest familiarity of JSS Education would concede that there is a substantial disparity between the products of JSS in the rural areas and those in the urban areas.
My own observation of JSS Schools in my Traditional Area leaves no doubt that the graduates of the rural JSS can barely compete with their opposite numbers in the urban areas. Little wonder that the streets of Accra and other cities are filled with JSS graduates from villages trying to sell all kinds of items.
2. About one year ago the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with the FES, organized a national conference on higher education and the job market in Ghana.
While recognizing that universities are not trade schools, the question may legitimately be raised as to whether our entire education system sufficiently addresses the needs of our job market or the compelling requirements of development. I endorse the exhortation that “Ghana needs to adopt a new stance of learning that is neither passive nor academic.
The new learning must not be a thirst for knowledge per se. “It must have application firmly in mind. It should lead to active pursuit of knowledge skill and technology for the purpose of searching for applications to move the Ghanaian economy ahead” (Frimpong Ansah).
3. Another troubling issue is the priority to be accorded to science and technology. We have not, as a nation, fully Integrated Science and Technology into our education or indeed our development strategies or general culture.
A good start has been made with the establishment of science centres in 110 districts and the proposed constitution of a science and technology park in Sunyani.
ICT centres of excellence have also been established in collaboration with India and others. A major challenge in the future is the development and incorporation of science and technology into our way of life.
4. One of the critical problems facing the nation is acute shortage of teaching staff at all levels of education, particularly in secondary schools, technical/vocational establishments and universities. No education plans, however comprehensive and sound, can be implemented without teachers. Every effort must be made to attract this critical resource in our national development.
· Experiences from Elsewhere
The Korean Experience
It may be helpful to consider how South Korea (one of the newly industrialized countries of Asia) approached some of these challenges. The following account of Korea’s performance in the educational Sector by the World Bank is instructive.
“The Drive for Universal Primary and Secondary Education in Korea.
Emerging from a bitter war in the early 1950s, the Republic of Korea, at that time one of the world’s poorest countries, achieved nearly 100 per cent coverage in primary and secondary education in just four decades. Korea now has a tertiary education sector comparable to that in developed countries. Average years of schooling almost doubled between 1970 and 1995, from 5.74 years to 10.25 years.
The illiteracy rate fell dramatically, from 13 per cent in 1970 to 2 per cent in 1999. Results from the most recent PISA and TIMSS studies show that Korean students are among the top performers in both mathematics and science in OECD member countries. It is no coincidence that Korea has become the world’s 12th largest economy”.
How did Korea achieve this?
1. In the 1950s, Korea embarked on a comprehensive development plan that provided for the expansion and strengthening of the education system. The plan emphasized universal primary education in the 1960s, secondary education in the 1970s, and tertiary education in 1980s.
2. Korea ensured equity in access to schools by abolishing the entrance examination system for the middle schools in 1968 and by introducing a lottery system for student admission. The Lottery System was perceived as fair because it was based on residence and not on examination results which could be affected by economic factors. This system has virtually eliminated the elite middle schools.
3. Government expenditure increased substantially to finance this major expansion.
Many economics have observed that the Korean economic take-off was substantially attributable to the availability of an educated work force. As Frimpong Ansah observed, “The Government of Korea had to make a special effort sparing no fiscal resources to push education, particularly, in the field of technology, in order to qualify for the large injections of domestic and foreign investment capital in modern industry”.
The critical importance of human resource development, particularly, the acquisition of technology is also underscored by Pianim as follows:
There is now some consensus on the broad factors that contributed to the success of the East Asian and Latin American industrialization process.
Ghana’s economy at independence was essentially
colonial and dependent in structure, relying
predominantly on the Production
of primary commodities
First and foremost, as a necessary but insufficient condition they did get their macroeconomic and enabling environment and incentive systems right. They invested significantly in mass and technical education. Not only general mass literacy and numeracy education, but the recent South East Asian example seems to suggest that one of the keys to their success is that they “targeted their skill development programmes to the critical areas where competitiveness could be improved”.
“The public sector provided technology support and extension to the industrial sector. The state intervened using the traditional infant industry arguments. The key is that the intervention was selective targeted and commensurate with the managerial and administrative capacity of the state”.
(Kwame Pianim: Transforming Industry in Ghana – Some Crucial Development Issues Facing Ghana: GAAS Proceedings 2001 pp.71).
This brings me to the consideration of our achievements or failures in economic development.
Economic performance undoubtedly has presented Ghana with some of its toughest challenges. Although the post independence era can boast of some success stories, the overall assessment of Ghana’s economic endeavours is more sobering than gratifying.
I will not presume to undertake a comprehensive or authoritative economic survey in this presentation. That task belongs to seasoned economists who will address you later. I should also point out that my remarks do not detract from the encouraging developments in recent years which will be mentioned later.
Ghana’s economy at independence was essentially colonial and dependent in structure, relying predominantly on the production of primary commodities – cocoa, gold, diamond, bauxite, manganese and timber – for export.
There was no manufacturing sector. Apart from locally produced food, the bulk of all consumer goods were imported. Frimpong Ansah points out that the economy was seriously skewed in favour of an export sector which masked an under developed and unproductive food sector.
A striking feature of our economic
Malaise was the failure to modernize the
“The economy was in pre-modern state and the new politically independent Ghana was a classic example of a country with colonization imposed culture of dependence”.
Nkrumah’s Government sought a radical departure from this structure, that is, to achieve economic independence and the capacity to manufacture basic needs.
The issue is whether Ghana has succeeded in restructuring the colonial economic legacy. The answer according to Professor Aryettey of ISSER and Professor Asenso-Okyere is that we have not, and that the essential character of Ghana’s economy as a producer and exporter of primary commodities persists today.
Nkrumah did launch an industrialization programme predicated on import substitution and reliance on the state as a major factor in production and restructuring of the economy. State-owned enterprises were established for the manufacture of some basic needs. Important infrastructure was established to provide electricity (Akosombo) port facilities (Tema) and others.
According to Pianim, “the rapid industrialization of the USSR through central planning was a model for the former colonies anxious to shirk the trappings of colonialism and to assume industrial nation status. The central role of the state as the primary agent for development was evidenced by the ownership structure of the Ghanaian industry by 1984. The 1987 Industrial census indicated that as at 1987, 20 percent of all industrial establishments were state-owned and they accounted for some 38 per cent of total industrial output in Ghana.
However, Ghana’s attempts at industrialization failed. The state initiatives imposed a servere drain on national resources, leading to the collapse of state enterprises.
Little attention was paid to agricultural modernization. Productivity in this sector was therefore insufficient to sustain urbanization and industrialization. According to Frimpong-Ansah, “the economic and price distortions induced by these failings eroded the productive base of the primary export sectors so seriously as to set in motion the most dramatic economic decline in our history”.
The larger expatriate – owned industrial enterprises engaged in such activities as mining, aluminum smelter and construction, became enclaves with few linkages with the general Ghanaian society.
A striking feature of our economic malaise was the failure to modernize the agricultural sector. The small holding cocoa farmers who sustained the comparative prosperity of the Gold Coast in the colonial era and were celebrated by economic historians as resourceful and industrious indigenous entrepreneurs were ignored and subjected to discriminatory taxation. The gap between the true market value of their produce and the price actually paid to them proved to be a corrosive factor in the country’s development.
In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, Ghana went through programmes of economic reform and structural adjustment inspired by the international financial institutions. Frimpong Ansah describes these measures as “the most serious and comprehensive effort to change the structure and incentives in the post-independence period”.
These measures were designed inter alia, to control inflation, arrest and reverse the decline of inflation, rehabilitate the decayed productive and social infrastructure, stimulate exports, curb consumption and mobilize domestic and external resources for restoring living standards.
Economists have observed that these measures were partly successful and, for some time, our external partners celebrated “Ghana’s economic miracle”. However, the following questions raised at the cover of Eboe Hutchful’s book. “Ghana’s Adjustment Experience, the Paradox of reform (2002) re-echo the Ghanaian puzzle”.
“How did the Ghana State, after flirtation with structuralist theories and state interventionism in the early 1960s, followed by persistent resistance to fiscal correction and long economy slide in 1970s and early 1980s, turn the economy around?
How did it manage to implement relatively rigorous “liberal reforms” in the mid 1980s and early 1990s? And why, after the “economic miracle’ of the 1980s, has reform increasingly run aground in the recent years”?
Eboe Hutchful addresses these questions in his book, and I recommend it to you.
Pianim points out the liberalization of trade which was an important component of those reforms that removed the protective tariffs for Ghana’s import substitution industries. The influx of competing manufactured goods led to the collapse of the textile, weaving and apparel industries.
In the telling words of Pianim: “After a decade and half of structural reforms that were meant to ignite and sustain growth, we had experienced deindustrialization”.
This performance invites comparison with the economic take-off in East Asian countries. We have already referred to Korea’s educational strategies and their development implications.
It would be meaningful to consider the economic fortunes of Ghana and Malaysia which shared a common colonial history, the structures of a colonial economy and the challenges of a pluralistic society.
Malaysia attained independence a few months after March 6, 1957. Both countries were engaged in the production and export of primary products – rubber and tin in the case of Malaysia and principally cocoa and gold in the case of Ghana, and had comparable per capita incomes.
“After a decade and half of structural
Reforms that were meant to ignite and
Sustain growth, we had experienced
Yet by 1980, Malaysia, unlike Ghana, had experienced a state-led structural transformation from a predominantly agricultural and primary goods producing country into a manufacturing economy, with emphasis on electronics. Its 1988 per capita income GNP was approximately four times that of Ghana.
Malaysia’s average annual real GDP growth rate has been 6 per cent over the last three and a half decades, while Ghana’s performance at this level has been episodic and not sustained. Malaysia’s GDP per capita in 1980 was 1848 while Ghana’s was 234. The 2005 figures were 4434 and 289 respectively. Since 1970, the inflation rate in Malaysia has been less than 4 per cent per annum, while Ghana’s rate though currently low, has sometimes fluctuated from treble to double digits.
Various reasons have been assigned for Malaysia’s success. Among these are:
1. Political stability: Since independence, Malaysia has successfully implemented a series of 5-year development plans. The latest is the Ninth Development Plan 2006-2010. The former Prime Minister, Mahatthir Mohammed had a vision 2020 Policy document which set out a long-term development plan for Malaysia.
2. Malaysia had an uninterrupted civilian leadership under Dr. Mahatthir Mohammed for 22 years. This created an enabling environment for the translation of his vision into reality.
3. Malaysia developed its agricultural sector to the full before embarking on industrialization.
4. All the East Asian countries benefited from their geographical proximity to Japan which wa a major stimulus through investment and example for industrialization.
5. Some would suggest that the entrepreneurial skills of the Chinese and Indian communitie in Malaysia provided a strong stimulus to the growth of the country’s private sector.
Sanjava Lall emphasizes technology capacity as a key factor in the East Asian experience.
“East Asian newly industrialized economies showed that selective interventions in an export –oriented setting carried out by well-trained technocrats and backed by investment in human capital can be extremely effective in creating a dynamic set of competitive industries and indigenous technological content. Without such interventions industrial development is likely to end up with less dynamism and depth”.
With particular reference to Ghana’s structural adjustment experience Lall points out that “generally low levels of capabilities have meant that rapid liberalization, unaccompanied by supply-side measures to develop skill, capabilities and technological support lead to significant and costly de-industrialization”.
Consequently, the expectation that liberalization by itself will transform Ghana into a “Tiger” along the lines of East Asia appears facile and unfounded.
This underscores the critical importance of human resource development, acquisition of technology and other capabilities which feature prominently in the policies of the Government of Ghana.
At this juncture, a review of current developments in Ghana would be appropriate. The current Government has paid considerable attention to cocoa farmers and has made strenuous efforts to bridge the gap between the market price and the local price paid to farmers.
This, together with technical inputs provided to cocoa farmers has led to a substantial increase in cocoa production. Relying on Hon. Osafo-Maafo’s recent lecture at KNUST, the following impressive data should be acknowledged: GDP Growth rate has consistently improved from 3.7 percent in 2000 to 5.3 percent in 2004 and 6 percent in 2005.
This year saw an increase to 6.2 per cent, while next year is expected to record a 6.5. per cent growth rate. The country has achieved macro-economic stability. Inflation has declined steadily from 40.5 per cent in December 2000 to 21.3 per cent at the end of 2001 and ultimately to 11.2 per cent in August, 2006.
The country’s foreign exchange reserves have improved from 3 weeks of import cover in 2001 to about 4 months by end of 2005.
Gross International Reserves stood at US$1,895 million at the end of 2005 compared to about US$235 million at the end of 2000.
There has been a great improvement in domestic resource mobilization. Domestic tax revenue as a percentage of GDP has shown sustained growth as it increased from 16.3 per cent of GDP in 2000 (4.4 trillion cedis) to 21.7 per cent of GDP in 2000 and 23.9 per cent (¢23.156 trillion) of GDP.
Progress made in Ghana is recognized by the international community. Ghana has been rated the most peaceful nation in Africa; given a B+ sovereign credit rating, ranked the fastest reforming nation on the continent and 9th in the world in doing business.
An ambitious programme of road construction and rehabilitation is underway. An important colonial legacy, the railway system which was allowed to disintegrate is now to be revived.
The Government of President Kufuor has done a lot to strengthen the economy by improving domestic resource mobilization, paying domestic debt, getting Ghana’s external debt reduced from US$6.7 billion to US$2.4 billion; getting a Millennium Challenge Account of US$547 million to be used over a period of 5 years.
At the end of this upbeat assessment, Hon. Osafo-Maafo concludes with his observation:
“However, looking at the challenges faced by us as a country, we need to radically rethink and fashion a new strategic vision and focus. The statements made about the structure of the economy in 1957 are essentially true in 2006”.
“Agriculture and the export of primary products will dominate the economy. Value addition which is a function of people, skills as well as technology have eluded us in spite of rather generous endowment of highly skilled Ghanaian professionals and technocrats over the globe”.
This evaluation accords with Professor Asenso Okyere’s observation in his lecture at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences two years ago.
“The structure of the economy has not changed much over the years with contribution to GDP being 40-41 per cent for agriculture, 31-32 percent for services and 27-29 percent for industry”.
The major foreign exchange earners have been cocoa, gold and timber for a long time now. Non-traditional exports which seem to be doing well have come from a large number of products and a large number of producers and the output per person or firm is small.
The production mix and the production processes have virtually remained the same and so it is difficult to cope with external factors when they impact negatively.
For instance, agricultural production has been largely rain-fed and the hoe and cutlass have been the major implements used over the years till present time. The stagnant structure of the economy has rendered the economy vulnerable to external shocks.
Another troubling characteristic of Ghana’s development endeavours is the low level of productivity even compared with other African countries.
A major challenge before us is to restructure our economy, add value to our products increase our productivity and diversify our exports.
A major challenge before us is to
restructure our economy, add value to our
products, increase our productivity
and diversify our exports.
There is also issue of our excessive dependence on the external donor community for resources for our development endeavours. Some have described this situation as neo-dependency. It will of course disappear as soon as we become self-sufficient in all respects.
In evaluating economic performance, it is important to realize that development is meaningful to the extent that it improves the quality of life or the livelihood of the individual. As the famous British Politician, Aneurin Bevan, said many years ago;
“There is no test for progress other than its impact on the individual. If the policies of statesmen, the enactments of legislatures and the impulses of group activity do not have for their object the enlargement and cultivation of individual life, they do not deserve to be called civilized”.
Poverty is a stark reality, particularly in the rural areas. I commend the various strategies for poverty reduction. I acknowledge that the quality of a person’s life is not exclusively determined by the amount of cash in his pocket or her bag. The availability of basic amenities like water, food and shelter is also crucial.
However, my personal experience of the incidence of poverty in my own Traditional Area, particularly among food crop farmers and the youth, reinforces the above dictum that various economic strategies should be driven by the elimination of poverty and the creation of wealth among the most vulnerable.
One of the unfortunate consequences of the ouster of the Busia Government was the disruption of a major programme of rural development that had been mounted. This would have tackled poverty in the marginalized rural population.
We are assured by Professor Asenso-Okyere that there has been some improvement in poverty reduction as revealed by the four rounds of the Ghana Living Standards Survey.
From 1992 to 1998, poverty headcount reduced from 51.7 percent to 39.5 percent whereas extreme poverty reduced from 36.5 percent to 26.8 per cent. The greatest gains were enjoyed by export farmers and wage employees in private employment while food crop farmers received minimal gains.
It is encouraging that the resources made available under the Millennium Challenge Account will be devoted to wealth creation as a means of reducing poverty in the rural areas.
One of the significant failures of national planning and policy implementation is the inability to cater for the energy needs of the country without resorting to emergency measures to manage periodic energy crisis. This is remarkable sine there has been no lack of a proper diagnosis of the problem. As far back as 1975, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences analyzed the energy problems facing the whole world as well as Ghana.
One of the leading papers in that symposium was presented by our Chairman, Hon. Prof Adzei Bekoe. Another paper by Dr. A.N. May referred to Kpong and Bui as future extensions of the Volta Project whose output was already earmarked for increased industrial activity. This means that as far back as 1975, it was realized that we would face a serious shortfall in energy resources.
I am also aware of the Energy Plans prepared by the Energy Commission and other governmental agencies. I recognize that our energy situation will substantially improve upon the completion of the West African Gas Pipeline Project.
It would appear that Bui is about to be executed in collaboration with China. However, as the World Bank Representative, Mr. M. Karlson, pointed our recently, if we do have plans, why do we not implement them? The ability to execute our numerous plans and projects is one of the major challenges in the future.
General Commitment to Development Economic take-off
Since the emergence of the Asian Tigers and the involvement of international financial institutions in Ghana’s economic recovery strategies, the nagging question has been raised as to why Ghana’s economic take-off has not happened.
Observers are puzzled over this issue, particularly in the light of the cogent evidence of the intellectual prowess of Ghanaians, the availability of natural resources and other endowments in this country and the professional and technical performance of Ghanaians around the world. Is there an inherent ethnic or national trait which impeded development?
An examination of Ghanaian indigenous entrepreneurship, even in the pre-colonial history, will debunk any such theory. We are informed by the late Prof. Francis Agbodeka that as early as the 13th century, Ghanaians were actually engaged in gold mining and the production of gold ornaments and that a robust gold industry in Ghana attracted European trade for centuries thereafter.
It is also incontrovertible that cocoa farming in the colonial era was operated by enterprising and resourceful Ghanaians who used their own agricultural techniques to inaugurate a thriving cocoa industry which continues to serve as a major foreign exchange earner for the country.
The economic misfortunes of Ghana since independence are therefore not attributable to any innate ethnic or racial deficiencies or shortcomings.
Political instability has of course been a major impediment to development in this country. The issue is whether with the evolution of stability, both in political and economic terms, we are all set for a take-off.
I have no prescriptions that would address this dilemma which sometimes tends to undermine our self confidence. I have a few thoughts about our overall commitment to development.
A lot has been said in recent years about the critical importance of leadership. A nation looks up to its leadership for guidance and inspiration and I can only say that our President’s demonstration of confidence in Ghana as reflected in the following message in the Foreword to the Budget Statement in laudable:
“With vigorous infrastructural development, the introduction of National Health Insurance Scheme, Capitation Grant, Free Bussing and the School Feeding for children and the establishment of financial schemes for micro, small and medium enterprises, we have made significant gains towards the Millennium Development Goals. Indeed, we are likely to attain some of these goals before the UN Deadline”.
Leaders must play their role. But I suggest that we cannot achieve our development goals unless we the people, as well as our leaders, display a serious commitment to development backed by a strong sense of national unity. I reject the notion that development is given to a people by some authority or by external benefactors.
After the establishment of the basic economic and social infrastructural and development priorities by the government, the people must seize the available economic opportunities, educate themselves, acquire technology, clean up the environment, implement projects and development plans expeditiously.
Economic historians will confirm that in pre-colonial and colonial days, our ancestors built roads, established economic linkages with other areas and undertook agricultural, mining, craftsmanship and other economic activities by themselves responding to economic stimuli as they arose. The spirit of self-help and community development was very much in evidence.
Observers of the Asian miracle attest to the industry, discipline and commitment of ordinary people to the development goals prescribed by their leaders or themselves.
I have seen evidence of this commitment in my visits to Korea and China and in my observation of the economic performance of Asian immigrants in the US. We need to demonstrate a real attachment to progress and development as a compelling and all-consuming undertaking.
In this regard, the nation should seriously adopt strategies to attract the talent of the impressive body of successful Ghanaian professionals resident abroad. That would be a refreshing injection of new ideas and new techniques from our own kith and kin into our development endeavours.
If our illiterate ancestors were able to demonstrate the entrepreneurship resourcefulness and industry which I have already alluded to, why has our modern indigenous private sector not flourished? The private sector cannot be the engine of growth if it is weak and fragmented. The challenge before the nation is to rejuvenate local private enterprise in both agriculture and industry by providing it with the necessary support and incentives to the full in a competitive world. Whether it is feasible in our circumstances to adopt the East Asian policy of targeting and supporting “Winners” in the private sector remains to be seen. But at least we should actively promote potential winners.
This plea derives from my firm belief in the ability of Ghanaians to attain all our development goals. I reject any fatalistic or cynical notion that we are congenitally incapable of scaling the heights reached by the Asian Tigers.
That is my declaration of faith in the capacity of the Ghanaian to move forward and I hope you share my faith.
· Deep rooted injurious cultural practices must go
Although the economic and political aspects of Ghana’s development have been examined in some detail, little attention has been paid to an in-depth investigation into the challenges of our culture since independence.
Professor Kwabena Nketia has reminded us that soon after independence, the accent was on demonstrating our cultural autonomy or “African personality” as evidence of our independence from the colonial or Western culture. This was to be done by integrating elements of traditional cultures from the background or the periphery to the centre of national life.
This policy was also directed towards the building of intercultural bridges between the major ethnic groups. It was reflected in official state ceremonies, which featured specific cultural elements such as the playing of Atumpan drums and the wearing of Kente or smock or the uttering of traditional prayers.
Although the content of our culture – history, political structures, social organization, arts and music, became the subject of serious specialist studies in the universities, particularly at the Institute of African Studies at Legon, there has been little evidence of the incorporation of our culture into curricula in our schools generally. The result is that culture is erroneously regarded as synonymous with dancing and drumming. Culture encompasses a lot more, particularly, cultural values.
Some Asian countries, such as Japan and Korea, have demonstrated an impressive capacity to combine their traditional cultures with technological advancement. Ghana faces a similar challenge of integration. Professor Kwapong has described the Japanese model in most instructive terms.
However, we cannot integrate the traditional and the modern without a serious study of our traditional heritage. This constitutes the first challenge with respect to our culture. It will be recalled that the early Ghanaian scholars – John Mensah Sarbah, Casely Hayford, J.B. Danquah, Busia and Ollennu all undertook in depth studies of our traditional systems and values.
Other challenges also revolve around the constitutional injunctions to the State about culture.
Article 39 (1) of the 1992 Constitution requires the state “to take steps to encourage the integration of appropriate customary values into the fabric of national life through formal and informal education and the conscious introduction of cultural dimensions to relevant aspects of national planning”.
This provision does not dwell on the autonomy of various cultures but the integration of cultural values from whatever source into the fabric of national life. Integration of cultural values presupposes popular knowledge of such values. The study and appreciation of such values pose a continuing challenge to us.
A similar technique of national integration is to be seen in Article 272 (b), which stipulates that: “The National House of Chiefs shall undertake the progressive study, interpretation and codification of customary law with a view to evolving, in appropriate cases, a unified system of rules of customary laws and lines of succession applicable to each stool or skin”.
The National House of Chiefs has begun the process of codification with respect to lines of succession applicable to each stool or skin, but is yet to complete the assignment under this Article.
Reforming Cultural practices and Institutions
One of the challenges of our constitutional order is the adaptation and modernization of our customary and cultural values and the abolition of traditional practices which are injurious to the health and well-being of the person pursuant to Article 39(2) of the Constitution, which obligates the State to “ensure that appropriate customary and cultural values are adapted and developed as an integral part of the growing needs of the society as a whole.
The process of evaluating and reforming our traditional heritage is complex and difficult. First it requires a sophisticated appreciation of “appropriate customary and cultural values. What is the content of these values”.
Second, there can be no evaluation without a national consensus as to what constitutes “injurious traditional practices”. There is a tendency to evaluate tradition on the basis of Western individualistic values.
For example, as Dr. Agbosu has pointed out, the proposition that a man’s estate must benefit his conjugal family to the exclusion of his extended family reflects the preferences of a narrow urban elite without reference to the positive and beneficial aspects of the extended family, particularly in a rural setting.
Where a man has benefited from the collectivist or communal endeavour o his extended kinsmen and other investment in his education and training, social justice requires some return on the extended family’s investment, which is incompatible with us total exclusion from participating in his estate.
Third, the experience of numerous African countries, including Ghana, has demonstrated the limitations of law as a technique of reforming and restructuring deep-seated cultural values and practices.
In Kenya, for example, despite the enactment of the Succession Act 1981 to assure equal rights of inheritance to women and men, ingrained cultural attitudes have persisted, leading to very rare incidence of women inheriting land and other property in their own right. Pervasive cultural ideas about the subordinate position of women are reflected in the widespread practice of registering women’s property in the names of their husbands, even though this does not seem to be a strict legal requirement.
In Ghana, although the trokosi system of enslavement, female circumcision and the brutalization of elderly women accused as “witches” have been proscribed, pursuant to prescriptions of the Constitution and legislation, the various practices still persist to some extent.
Widowhood rites would strike most fair-minded people as injurious to the health and well-being of the widows concerned and were criminalized by Criminal Code (Amendment) Law 1984, PNDC Law 90 in 1984.
Yet they continue to be practiced and ironically at the insistence of the female members of the deceased man’s extended family. Akua Kuenyehia has pointed out that the enactment of Intestate Succession Law 1985, PNDC Law III has not noticeably affected the ingrained culture and practices affecting intestate succession and that the enactment has largely been ignored.
The overwhelming observation and advice of social scientists is that legal prohibition has to be reinforced by sustained educational campaigns to dismantle the deep-rooted cultural beliefs and values that sustain the offending practices.
Notwithstanding these difficulties, we cannot shirk our constitutional responsibility to reform our traditional practices that are injurious to a person’s well-being and health or are otherwise repugnant to the maintenance of human dignity.
As intimated above, some of the offending practices are as follows:
1. Trokosi System
The Trokosi system is a form of slavery or involuntary servitude and exploitation of women. This is offensive to the fundamental right and freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. Through the laudable efforts of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, the system has formally been criminalized. However, the full effect of this measure cannot be realized without a further campaign of education and rehabilitation.
2. Brutalization of “witches”
The practice of condemning and brutalizing old women accused of witchcraft has provoked a social outrage. However, it remains to be seen whether appropriate legal steps and other measures will be taken not only to abolish this pernicious system which violates the women’s dignity, but also to protect the victims against these practices.
3. Widowhood Rites
These rites are not only discriminatory but are also demeaning and dehumanizing. They violate the human rights of the victims and the cultural objectives stipulated in the Directive Principles of State Policy. These rites have already been criminalized. But the more formidable task is to educate our women to appreciate the compelling case for abolishing this practice which abuses other women.
Every effort must be made through education, sensitization and compulsion, if necessary, to eradicate these cultural practices.
Cultural Drags on Development
There are certain cultural practices and beliefs which may not technically violate the Constitution or any enactment but may still constitute a drag on development. Such practices and belief systems have to identified and eradicated.
A cultural practice which may not be injurious to the health and well-being of a person, but is certainly a drag on development is the expensive, protracted and elaborate celebration of funeral rites. A funeral marked by an ostentatious display of wealth and material pleasures has questionable traditional validity.
In my childhood, mourning was an austere and somber ceremony accompanied by fasting not conspicuous consumption of food and drink even before the burial of the deceased. This is a prostitution of custom, which leaves senseless indebtedness in its wake. Several traditional authorities, including Asanteman Council, are instituting reforms in this field.
There are other cultural practices, habits and deep seated superstitions which may be injurious to health to the extent that they thwart scientific solution or may be inimical to modernization or the adoption of a culture of science or a drag on development to the extent they constitute an impediment to rational processes.
Some superstitions cause social tension by attributing natural phenomena like death or illness to supernatural causes, voodoo or spiritual malfeasance otherwise known as “African super-science”.
It is deeply regrettable that years of “Western” education and exposure to modern science have not eradicated rigorous adherence to superstition.
One of the unacceptable faces of chieftaincy is my encounter with the odious practice of uttering curses and the social tension and fear caused by the practice. One of the challenges facing our communities is to confront superstition and other irrational practices in our society and liberate our people from their pernicious consequences. We cannot expect to modernize and develop when our worldview is dominated by the stultifying belief system of a dark and unenlightened era.
Finally we must discard social habits and social ills which undermine discipline and impede productivity and development in all senses – tardiness, corruption unprofessionalism, delinquency at work, littering and other environmental offences.
In our catalogue of national achievements, it would be appropriate to acknowledge that chieftaincy is a well-tested institution that has survived against some of the most traumatic and social upheavals in the country. It continues to adapt to changing circumstances and has served as major stabilizing factor.
The role and status of chieftaincy in modern Ghana have engaged the attention of political leaders and the entire nation since independence. It is trite knowledge that the colonial system seemingly enhanced but actually undermined chieftaincy in Ghana. It is also hardly contestable that post-colonial African leaders like Nkrumah, saw chieftaincy as a dangerous bastion of rival power and launched a successful campaign to dismantle or attenuate chiefly authority. Chiefs in Ghana have been divested of political, executive economic and formal judicial power.
Yet it is significant that several surveys conducted in Ghana about the efficacy or desirability of the chieftaincy institution in Ghana have disclosed overwhelming endorsement of the institution as a critical instrument for development.
Writing in 1975 on energy, Prof. Adzei Bekoe, came up with the following classic.
“In the present-day Ghanaian context, the following comparison is sufficiently explanatory: a chief has more glory than power and a Regional Commissioner has more power than glory”.
Chiefly glory these days is
enhanced by a Chiefs
In defining the role of chieftaincy, it is as well to assure our political leaders and elected representatives of the people that chiefs do not profess to be their political rivals any longer. They do, however, demand to be recognized as development partners in matters affecting them both locally and nationally.
Chiefs can and do play a vital role in development, which at once enhances democracy and sustains good governance.
At a recent international conference on chieftaincy in Africa, there were numerous reports from African countries such as Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana about the development roles of chiefs, - mobilizing their people for the execution of development projects, sensitizing them to health hazards, promoting education, preaching discipline, encouraging various economic enterprises, inspiring respect for the law and urging the people to participate in the electoral process. Most of these are done without formal recognition or financial support from the Government.
The management of natural resources, the administration of land, re-afforestation and radical attack on disease and poverty cannot be accomplished without chiefs.
One of the most revealing discoveries since becoming a chief is the extent to which people’s representatives at the local and national level and egalitarian institutions still need the moral support of chiefs in all their endeavours.
Modern African states have not all succeeded in comprehensive health and educational systems, for counseling the youth or role models in all fields of endeavour. The modern chief, stripped of political and executive power and formal financial support, has to address these basic needs for his people using his ingenuity, diplomacy, power of motivation and sometimes his own personal resources.
Unfortunately, the legacy of the struggle for power by political functionaries in the post-independence era has led to the virtual marginalization of chiefs in the formal political structures at the national regional and local levels. Whiles chiefs accept the constitutional ban on their participation in active party politics, they see no justification of their virtual exclusion from local government, where their expertise and traditional responsibility are obvious.
If we recognize that non-governmental organizations, both foreign and domestic, and civil society have a legitimate role in our governance, then, chiefs as arbiters of their people’s welfare and managers of natural resources clearly have an incontestable claim to participation in all aspects of local government. A cardinal principal of democracy is the participation of all stakeholders in the decision-making process.
The development process should not be the exclusive preserve of political functionaries. Contemporary principles of good governance demand people ownership of development endeavours and people obviously include their traditional leaders. If chiefs are to be properly integrated into the development process, they must adhere scrupulously to the rigorous requirements of integrity and their status as trustees of the people.
The decline in urban and rural sanitation is one of the most glaring failures in our national life. Our cities are engulfed by filth. We face the ugly reality of environmental degradation. This development belies any notion that progress is inexorable.
In my childhood, I saw villages or small towns well-laid out, clean and observing the highest hygienic and sanitational standards. Refuse was meticulously collected and burnt at a public incinerator. Streets were swept and decorated with rows of nim trees. Public latrines were provided and patronized with decorum.
The Sanitary Inspector or “samansaman” who enforced sanitary regulations was a highly respected member of society, whose sanctions were dreaded and to be avoided at all cost. Sanitation was achieved as the result of the collective endeavour of government and society. What caused this graphic deterioration? There is no reason why we cannot revert to this happy collaboration. We must assume responsibility for the health and cleanliness of our own environment. This is our challenge.
As a people, we have done well in preserving our artistic heritage. Our drumming, festivals dancing and traditional music are still vibrant. We have scored some successes in modern literary work and poetry. However, we have not sustained the drama associated with such names as Joe de Graft, Saka Acquaye and Efua Sutherland. We seem to have succumbed to Nigeria predominance in this area and ceded ground to Nigeria actors. Playwrights of today must accept the Nigerian challenge and produce first-class drama particularly for the screen.
Ghana has achieved excellent results in some departments of sports. In boxing, we have dazzled the world with the brilliance of Azuma Nelson, D.K. Poison and others. Our performance in soccer matched our political stardom in the aftermath of independence. Despite our lapses in the past, we have proved our resilience and enduring talent by our impressive performance at the World Cup last year. Our task is to sustain this achievement. Every effort should be made to strengthen athletics and build on our recent successes in Australia. We should also remember that sports at the national level, is a potent factor of national unity.
I began this address by celebrating our current achievements in political stability, national unity, democracy and constitutionalism. Our own experience, as well as the experience of other countries, teaches us that we cannot take these critical aspects of our nationhood for granted. We have to recognize the potential threats to the integrity of our nation and address them. For example, there is the crucial issue as to whether a multi-party system in Africa inevitably degenerates into ethnic conflict as asserted by President Museveni of Uganda and former President Arap Moi of Kenya.
The 1992 Constitution contains various devices to ensure national integration. I refer to the provisions that prohibit the formation of political parties on ethnic, religious or other parochial lines and those designed to promote a national approach to politics.
However, beyond these constitutional and legal measures, we need a fundamental or radical philosophical orientation that sees political parties as a mechanism for truly national ideologies for economic and social programmes for national development, far removed from parochial, ethnic or sectarian interests.
Furthermore, I heartily endorse Arthur Lewis’s prescription that African constitutional arrangements and governance should ensure the effective participation of all diverse ethnic groups, including minority groups, in the political and economic benefits flowing from the African State.
Another crucial pre-requisite to political stability is the achievement and maintenance of a political consensus. This reinforces national unity. For some 30 years, our nation went through an excruciating period, which saw a disruptive succession of regimes of differing commitment to good governance.
We have now successfully operated a liberal democratic constitution for nearly 15 years. The rule of law prevails, although we recognize the occasional lapses in the system. The challenge is to deepen this constitutional order, while meeting the formidable challenges of development. This is a long and difficult process that demands a sustained commitment to constitutionalism by all organs of state, the people and the media.
I hope that I have given you a realistic account of our achievements and challenges as a nation and that you do not find our record disheartening or discouraging. I am certainly optimistic about Ghana’s future. The central lesson to the drawn from this account is the resilience of all departments of Ghana’s development. In almost every area of endeavour the story begins with a rise in our fortunes, followed by a decline of varying duration and, ultimately, a revival of progress.
In politics and governance, Ghana’s independence heralded not only African liberation from imperial rule but also personal freedom. Liberation was achieved but personal freedom was blunted by a jagged and unstable political evolution for the greater part of Ghana’s post-independence life. Ghana ultimately emerged from this period and is enjoying a stable constitutional order.
In education, Ghana’s ambitious post-independence expansion was aversely affected by the economic malaise that beset the country. There has now been a resurgence of the expansion of and increased access to educational facilities.
Our economic development has followed a similar pattern. Nkrumah’s ambitious industrialization programme spearheaded by the state failed. After a long period of economic decline, aggravated by resistance to fiscal correction, Ghana underwent economic reforms and structural adjustment, which achieved a measure of success characterized as the “Ghana Miracle” in the early nineties. These economic reforms suffered a set-back in the late 90s. Currently, Ghana has achieved macro-economic stability and other indicia of recovery, which would prepare the ground for a take-off.
In culture, more particularly, with respect to chieftaincy, the immediate post-independence period was a hostile era in which chiefly authority was drastically reduced. However, chieftaincy proved resilient and chiefs are still wearing their sandals, despite dire predictions to the contrary. The institution is approved by 70 per cent of Ghanaians. Although divested of power, the institution has been redefined as an instrument of development and is attracting professionals.
Finally in soccer, Ghana started as the pacesetter, whose sparkling performance inspired, delighted and enlightened youngsters in Africa. We then suffered an eclipse for a little while and have now emerged again as a shining star.
Indeed, Ghana has recovered its position as a pacesetter and a role model. Our performance in all areas of endeavour has been acclaimed internationally.
I sense a renaissance which is at once gratifying and inspiring. And so as we begin to celebrate our Golden Jubilee year, let us do so with confidence in the ability of Ghanaians to pull ourselves together to meet the high expectations of our founding fathers and generations thereafter. God Willing, we shall overcome!!!
Daily Graphic - Wednesday, April 25, 2007 Pages 15, 33 & 34
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 Pages 16 & 33
Wednesday, May 16, 2007 Pages 16 & 33