Indigenous Ghana and neo-liberal Ghana are worlds apart. It will take more than the late Kwame Nkrumah’s (1909 - 1972) acclaimed visions for Ghanaian elites to bring them together. Despite the fact that he was great, Nkrumah was overthrown in 1966, as a result of his virtual non-harnessing of traditional institutions for progress. His marginalization of traditional institutions or the “base,” more appropriately traditional rulers, as bastion of Ghanaian development process explains his low grasp of development. His successors are no better. The late Prime Minister Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia (1913 - 1978), did not show any remarkable inclination to mix neo-liberal values with Ghana’s norms, values and traditions.
It is paradoxical that after 50 years of independence, there are calls countrywide for traditional institutions to fill some of the 30 percent government appointee seats in the 138 District Assemblies. This is to mirror the relevance of traditional institutions and general norms, values and traditions that are the factual bedrock of Ghana’s development process.
When Prof. Kojo Yanka of University of Ghana’s suggested the intellectualization of Ghanaian languages, he was implying the intellectualization of the Ghanaian culture for progress. Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Vietnam and Southeast Asian elites have been able to move skillfully between their indigenous values and the dominant neo-liberal ones, and adroitly mixed the two in their progress. The dominant Western world’s progress has evolved by appropriating values from afar. As social scientist Francis Fukuyama says, you start your development process from your cultural base first.
Such thinking is gradually emerging in Ghana. Prof. George Hagan, chair of the National Commission on Culture, suggests the examination of Millennium Development Goals from a Ghanaian cultural perspective as a fundamental and strategic means of achieving success by 2015. Prof. George Hagan has secured funds from the European Union for use in appropriating Ghanaian culture to “support human resource development; employment; income generation and research.”
Dr. Nana Oti Boateng, King of Ghana’s Eastern Region talks of how traditional institutions are inherently more democratic than the current dominant neo-liberal one. Alhaji Adams, administrative manager of the Timber Industry Development, enjoins traditional rulers, politicians, and the youth to take up and use traditional alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in resolving conflicts. Prof. Kwame Gyekye, coordinator of the Ghana Golden Jubilee Lecture Series, argues for a national direction driven by cultural values that inspire national character and progress.
These progressive views reflect attempts to re-think Ghana’s progress from within its values. It is such understanding, dexterity and manipulability of development elements that has seen countries grow tremendously.
Ordinary Ghanaians expect their elites to sit down, calm themselves and think deeply about their development process as way of not only understanding their immediate environment, but also mix the dominant neo-liberal values with Ghanaian/African indigenous values for progress.
By Kofi Akosah-Sarpong
Expo Times Independent Sierra Leone
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