When Ghana attainted independence on 6th March 1957, I was
a little primary school pupil.
In a Current Affairs lesson, we learnt about Ghana’s independence under the presidency of Dr. Kwame Nkruma.
To a primary school pupil of a colonized country at that time, the independence of an African country meant very little. What meant a lot was the Big Ben of
London, the Queen and the ‘National Anthem’, “God Save the Queen”. Yes,
these are now only interesting memories of yesterday.
School Inspectors did not announce their coming to inspect schools. They just pitched up when
both the teachers and the pupils least expected them. They took over classes
to examine the efficiency of teachers. When we could not give correct
answers to English Spelling or Mental Arithmetic, the Inspector turned the
question to the trembling Teacher.
Sometimes the scared teacher could also not give a correct answer, to the amusement of the pupils who did not like the teachers for always canning them.. This was a long time ago when Standard Six graduates taught Standard Five pupils. The gape of knowledge between a teacher and a pupil was not that great. A class of 20 could probably see only 5 passing at the end of the year, the rest failing, some with zero mark.
Copying from other pupils was very common, to the extent that the very dull pupils copied not only the text but even the name of the pupil sitting next to them.
Since most schools were Missionary Schools, end of Year Results were announced after the Church Service when the Head Teacher would read out to the attendant parents – so and so passed, so and so failed. It was very humiliating to those who failed but with so many failures, who cared. I passed.
In 2009, I went to Ghana to attend a Private Sector Roundtable where we
discussed the topic ‘Democracy that Delivers’. Yes, I benefited a lot from
different views on democracy. The Roundtable unanimously agreed that
democracy must deliver the vital ingredients of life to all the citizens of
a country – decent work, decent food, decent health facilities and decent
health care, decent clothing, decent housing, human rights, human dignity,
and all types of legal freedoms.
We also discussed good governance in the context in which the term was firmly set in the minds of the international community by African scholars – Ali Mazrui, Claude Ake, Nakhtar Diouf et al, in 1989.
By good governance, the African scholars were looking at “State-Society relations. Transparency, democracy and social inclusion being core elements” of good governance. [D+C, Vol. 31, Oct. 2004].
At the time of the African Round Table Ghana, Ghanaians were preparing
for General Elections which were won by the Party of late President John
Atta Mills. I fell in love with Ghana, which, in many ways, shares a lot of
attributes with Botswana – the air of freedom and the “warmth” of the
The philosophy of the ordinary people of Ghana “Lose No Hope, for No
Condition is Permanent”, is a strong and reassuring philosophy. Ordinary
Ghanaians like to write such philosophies on their commuter vehicles.
Some readers of this Article may remember the book by a Ghanaian writer,
Ayi Kwei Armah “The Beautyful Ones are not yet Born”. The writer saw this
written on a Bus and he took it as a Title for his Book, together with the
wrong spelling of the word ‘beautiful’.
In 2012, I have been to Ghana twice as a Consultant to work specifically
with the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), a Committee
that was established by the Petroleum Revenue Management Act No. 815 of
2011. Members of the Committee represent all sectors of the Ghanaian
population – House of Chiefs, Queen Mothers, Think Tanks, Professional
Bodies, Religious Bodies, etc.
The Committee is mandated to ensure that there is absolute transparency in the income and expenditure of the Petroleum and Gas income. My role is to work with the Members of the PIAC specifically, and with other re organisations involved in the petroleum and gas sector, on Effective Advocacy Techniques and Strategies.
The first Workshop held in July was attended by several organisations, which included Hon. Members of the Select Parliamentary Committee on Mines
and Energy; Members of the PIAC, the Commission on Human Rights and
Administrative Justice, Anti-Corruption Agency, Women’s Organisation,
and others. Working as a team of Workshop facilitators, we made sure that
the Workshop was participatory so that people could put forward their views,
aspirations, hopes and fears.
At the end of the Workshop, implementable Recommendations were made to be acted upon by the various participating organisations. The success of the first Workshop gave rise to the organisation of the second Workshop which was held in September 2012.
The second Workshop was attended by more organisations, which included two
Parliamentary Committees – Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy, and
the Parliamentary Committee on Finance. This time around, I was privileged
to spend two days working on the banks of River Volta overlooking the Volta
Hydro Electric Dam which was one of the big projects initiated by the
visionary first President of the Republic of Ghana – Dr. Kwame Nkruma.
The same subjects discussed at the first Workshop were continued in greater
depth at the second Workshop. There was also a Presentation on
“Monitoring the ‘Dutch Disease’ by Professor John Asafu Adjaye, one of the
most modest, influential and hard working academics I have come across in
The adverse effects of the ‘Dutch Disease’ it was proposed, could be
mitigated by government investing some of the revenue from the resource
sector into other sectors of the economy so as to sterilise the effects of
the Dutch Disease on the domestic economy. [This is what Botswana has done
and it is indeed Botswana’s outstanding success story].
The discovery of oil in Ghana has brought more opportunities on one hand and
more challenges on the other hand. The high expectations of the people of
Ghana must be managed by Government, Civil Society and the private sector.
This is what we are working on with the Public Interest and Accountability
Paying tribute to Dr. Kwame Nkruma, I told the Workshop that Dr. Kwame
Nkruma was probably the only African leader to pursue two critical Visions –
A vision for Ghana, and a Vision for Africa. “Ghana shall not be free until
the whole African Continent is free” Dr. Kwame Nkruma.
My next visit to Ghana will be in late January/early February 2013. The
purpose is the same, to work with Ghanaian organisations which are involved
in the petroleum and gas sector with a view to ensuring that Ghana does not
fall into the ‘Resource Curse’, dungeon which has engulfed other African
countries which found themselves endowed with mineral wealth.
Botswana, Norway, Alaska, are the three good examples of countries that have avoided the ‘Resource Curse’ . ‘These countries, it is said, managed to avoid the
‘Resource Curse’ through sound and responsible financial management and the
existence of mechanisms that hold government accountable.
[The Institute of Economic Affairs, Ghana – IEA Monograph No. 22] I feel very honoured and indeed privileged to have had this unique opportunity to be of some modest service as a consultant to the people of Ghana.
When I am in Ghana, I feel as much at home as I feel here at home.
I just hope that one day, the restrictive Visa requirements between the two
beacons of democracy in Africa – Ghana and Botswana will be removed.
Currently, travelling to Ghana requires a Visa which is obtainable from
Namibia at considerable cost.
*Elias Dewah is a Consultant in the field of Public-Private Dialogue and Effective Advocacy [[email protected]]