Africans Should Tell Their Own Stories – Ghana’s President

by Kofi Ayim

The President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has urged Africans to tell their own stories because no other people would tell it like it is. He quoted one of Achebe’s popular sayings, “If you don’t like someone’s story, write your own,” to buttress his argument.

The President made this assessment in a talk hosted by the Center for African Studies, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers Global, and the Christie and Chinua Achebe Leadership Forum under the theme “From Poverty to Prosperity: The Africa We Want” on September 21, 2019. He paid glowing homage to the legendary Chinua Achebe, the man described as the “Father of Modern African Literature,” who authored several epic
novels including “Things Fall Apart,” “No Longer at Ease,” “Arrow of God,” “A Man of the People,” and “Anthills of the Savannah,” amongst others.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo analogically compared the erroneous notion of Africa as a country instead of a continent with 54 sovereign nations to the tendency of many to see the poor as a mass of people whilst seeing the rich as individuals. He quickly added that, irrespective of that ignorant perception, “we also know that there is an Africa to which we all
identify, and which we carry with pride, and, sometimes, with wounded pride.” He said Africa not being recognized as 54 separate countries is immaterial to its development. “It is not a problem of geography we face, ours is a problem of poverty.”

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

“Unemployment is the greatest source of insecurity,” he emphasized. He said that if Africans work harder to transform the lives of Africa’s peoples, the continent will be accorded the respect it deserves. He lamented that the respect Africans crave will be a mirage so long as unemployment continues to fuel the harrowing trek that Africa’s youth make across the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea, rather than staying at home to build our economies. “Our young people must acquire the skills that run modern economies. When they are skilled, they would not have to risk drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, they would be head-hunted and treated with dignity.”

He suggested that because poverty is inherent in the daily lives of Africans, Africa must accept the fact that it cannot win the battle against poverty if there are wars and political instability. It has to spend its riches in and on Africa. “All the evidence shows that there is enough money in our continent to fund our development needs.”

The dispiriting part of the story is the fact that Africans bear some responsibility for taking these monies out of Africa and into western countries. According to the report on the illicit flow of funds (IFFs) from Africa from a panel chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, Africa loses more than $50 billion annually through illicit financial outflows. The report revealed further that, between the years 2000 and 2008, $252 billion, representing 56.2% of the illicit flow of funds from the
continent, was from the extractive industries, including mining.

He opined that the destinies of Africans in the diaspora and on the continent are irrevocably linked and challenged the former to step up to the plate to shape the continent’s development. “I believe that the African diaspora has a critical role to play. Many of their members have the expertise, and would have the empathy to drive change far more quickly and smoothly than other people,” he suggested.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo pointed out that political independence did not bring the hoped-for dividend of economic prosperity. “In the past fifty years, wars and famine and military adventurism have combined to reinforce the image of Africa as a troubled continent, and we have been unable to make economic and political advances as rapidly as we should
have,” he added. He conceded that post-colonial Africa did not seem to get its politics right long enough to develop its economies, which eventually compromised the economic strength needed to withstand exploitation and undermining of the land, culture, and language by other people.

He remarked that his government, among other things, has identified human resource training as a cardinal component of breaking the vicious cycle of poverty into prosperity. “The emphasis is on education and skills training, and we are all agreed that is the surest way to getting a skilled working population that can compete with the rest of the world,” he commented.

The crowd included traditional leaders

He said Ghana now offers free education up to senior high school level so that nobody loses out because of lack of money. Nana Akufo-Addo hoped that the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement would bring a definite change in atmosphere and an increased trade between African nations. He posited that the dynamic and young population of Africa positions the continent for a robust economic development and prosperity in the not too distant future.

The fifth president of the Fourth Republic of Ghana concluded his lectures with a quote by Chinua Achebe: “A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground, it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.”

That is the spirit of Africa that we bring to the world, the President added.

Posted by on Oct 17 2019. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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