It is Time to Think

Published on 30th June 2009

“It is time to think,” said Prof. Helen Lauer, head of the Philosophy Department of the University of Ghana while praising Prof. Kwame Gyekye, a renowned Ghanaian philosopher. While Lauer might have said that in relation to Gyekye’s lectures, the relevance goes to the broader Ghanaian developmental struggles.


The disturbing impressions are that Ghanaian/African elites cannot think well or philosophize well enough from within their cultural values in growing their development processes. It is as if Africans have no values of their own, and, therefore, soulless and at the brutal mercy of foreign forces. To repair this situation, African elites must think from within their cultural values as not doing so breeds elites who know Western values pretty well but do not understand their traditional values and relate them skillfully to their immediate environment for progress.


Disequilibriums in the paradigms running Ghana have occurred because Ghanaian/African elites have not been able to simultaneously disentangle themselves and balance their thinking against the ancient colonial arguments that suppressed and demeaned their values (with all its psychological and confidence building implications), and set up education systems that draw from within their innate values, as the centres for “mental forms and processes” for development. In such situation the mental forms and processes that are to produce the development thinking are skewed against Ghanaian/African values.


With this realization, “it is time to think,” time to philosophize about the development paradigms running Ghana from within its values – both logically and materially. This will entail the working out of the algebra of Ghana’s development from within its values in relation to its inherited neo-liberal ones. Ghana will need a rewind of Kwame Gyekye or its own Karl Polyani, Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx or Sigmund Freud to think grandly from with its conventional values. This will float the necessary mix of confidence and psychology needed to balance the Western neo-liberal values currently running its development.


Ghanaian elites appropriation of the Gyekye “it is time to think” will open up Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man, in which he argued that the progression of human history as a struggle between development ideologies is largely at an end, with the world settling on liberal ethos after the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. While the practical necessities of Fukuyama’s argument is unassailable, it means the Gyekye “it is time to think” idea has to enrich Fukuyama’s argument by playing simultaneously with neo-liberal values and Ghana’s traditional ideals, as other global experiences show, especially in Southeast Asia.


That will be Ghana’s post-independent future where, for confidence and psychological reasons, the “triumph” of “political and economic liberalism” is harmonized understandably with Ghanaian traditional values in Ghana’s development process.

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