Ghana’s emerging democracy is allowing Ghanaians the fundamental right and boldness to criticize their progress. This is unlike the 21 years of military juntas and 6 years of one-party systems that were driven by the culture of fear and silence.
Ghana, as a development venture, is under suffocation from the imbalances emanating from its ex-colonial and traditional values. Despite 50 years of freedom from British colonial rule in 1957, Ghana’s intended advancement is still run from the top-bottom paradigms – an ex-colonial left-over - against the traditional values/paradigms of bottom-top.
Against this background, Dr. Y.K. Amoakoh, ex-chair of the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa, observes that Ghana/Africa is the only region in the world where its development process is dominated by foreign development paradigms to the detriment of its wealthy traditional development ideals. This makes Ghanaians/Africans not only intellectually, spiritually, and morally weak in their own development domain, but also it is this unevenness that informs the Okyenhene’s idea that, “If there is any sphere of our national life that requires the active participation of stools and skins, it is of course local government,” reports the Accra-based Public Agenda’s.
According to Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, Okyenhene (King of the Abuakwa State in Ghana’s Eastern Region), the ability to re-cast Ghana’s development policies and bureaucratic practices from within traditional Ghanaian values will turn upside down the controversial American scientist Dr. James Dewey Watson’s assertion that “Africans are less intelligent than Europeans because all their social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really.”
This calls for a new reflection to grasp the Ghanaian development process so as to let it reflect its authentic traditional values in relation to its ex-colonial and the global progress paradigms, as the Senegalese development expert, Mahmood Dia, in collaboration with the World Bank, argue. The Okyenhene reveals that none of the constitutional provisions on rural governance and decentralization include the participation of traditional institutions that cater for majority of Ghanaians. While for good or bad the British colonialist used traditional Chiefs to govern the Gold Coast, post-colonial Ghana hasn’t seen the creative appropriation of traditional Chiefs in Ghana’s development process, particularly in the development planning agenda.
Ghana isn’t thought-out holistically enough despite the glaring misconception by earlier elites such as Kwame Nkrumah, Kofi Busia, Edward Akuffo-Addo, and Hilla Limman as a development project from within itself but overwhelmingly so from outside foreign development values. Nowhere in Ghana are contentious development issues more noticeable than traditional land issues in relation to the stability of the nation-state, as Sara Berry, in “Hegemony on a Shoestring: Indirect Rule and Access to Agricultural Land,” would examine.
The Okyenhene adroitly addresses this, citing provisions in Ghana’s Constitution and tensions from traditional land jurisdiction, by questioning why the office of the administrator of traditional lands is not located in a place that suggests accountability to traditional institutions and its communities but solely to national and regional authorities who lack traditional sensibilities and have inhibited the rural poor to appropriate their land for development.
Ghana, as development mission, will be fully known, completely understood, and made attuned to itself and the global neo-liberal development process by re-moldering it in such a way that Ghanaian traditional norms and values, as Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin thinks, will be of considerable developmental fact in making polices and bureaucratization as the Southeast Asians and others who are doing well have done.