Below are highlight of the points he outlined in this interview(listen to audio):
- There’s a second wave of AIDS in Ghana called the Acquired Import Dependency Syndrome (AIDS). We import almost everything we use.
- Whatever the master in England does, we copy it. Our buildings should have big open windows. That’s how the imperialists, the white men, built their bungalows. We knocked them down and replaced them with glass houses, sealed glass.
- We only wear what we make (African attire) on Fridays — Friday wear! That’s a problem.
- There is a tunnel called ‘Western education.’ We enter it and learn how to forget. We go to Accra and forget about the village.
- The African intellectual is like a bee who has forgotten how to make honey.
- The governmental system in Ghana only caters to Western-educated people, even though they’re less than 15% of the population. From the president right down to the teacher, they get paid at the end of every month. No villager gets paid for anything. They get up in the morning, they go to their farms, and they produce their cassava or yam or plantain. Nobody guarantees them a market. Nobody gives them loans. All the taxes raised in the country are for Western-educated people.
- The aid from World Bank and Oxfam is in SUVs, restaurants, and swimming pools in Accra but the villagers can’t get a loan to buy a tractor, or cutlasses but somebody is collecting aid on their behalf.
- Even some of my very rich relatives won’t contribute to what I’m doing (developing the lives of people in the village).
I like Dr. Kofi Sam’s enthusiasm and drive, and his vision for Ghana. I agree with most of his points. Unfortunately, I believe he’s the wrong messenger and he is preaching to the wrong congregation.
Take aid for example. We all know by now that the aid to Ghana never makes it to the masses in the villages. The US knows this and the government officials in Ghana who receive these funds know it as well. Statistics show that most foreign aid to Ghana from the US never leaves the US anyway. It is spent to make a huge portion of “American aid worker” lives more comfortable. As a result we can all agree aid won’t get us to the point of self-sufficiency. No American is sitting in Washington DC losing sleep over how to make Ghana as good as or better than the USA. It’s no surprise that aid money never makes it to place like Aburanza – it was meant to be in the SUVs, restaurants and swimming pools just like Dr. Kofi Sam mentioned.
What Dr. Kofi Sam needs to do is gather a group of rich Ghanaians in Accra and show them why it’s important for the farmer in Aburanza to have a cutlass and access to a tractor. He needs to go to the government officials in Accra who get rich by stealing foreign aid and show them the tangible economic value of investing the stolen money into businesses in places like Aburanza to make an even greater profit. He needs to convince the rich and the educated elite to visit their villages not only to attend a funeral but to invest in businesses that employ people and make a profit. He needs to tell the elite that it is not patriotic to say “everything in my house is imported from Italy or the US” while we have is quality made-in-Ghana furniture.
The right messenger will be a rich Ghanaian who is investing his own money in places like Aburanza and making an impact of the lives of the villagers and also making a profit. The right audience will be his colleagues who have the means to replicate that model around the country and the government officials who need to be told to help or stay out of the way.
No country has ever developed without the active involvement and investment of its citizens.