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Rebuilding Ghana – Leveraging our Culture to promote National Development
By David Kwaku Sakyi

In the enfolding of every story, there is anticipation and expectation that the end of the story will be better than the beginning.

Ghana’s story is still being written in the larger context of Africa. I have identified three things and I’m fascinated by what Angela spoke about, because it is really exactly what my heartbeat is right now.

Three things that have not allowed or not permitted, you know, have been inimical to the beautification of our story, that far. The three things are


SELFISHNESS: If you having to be driving your jet or whatever it is that you fancy and you hit a traffic light and DUMSO has done it thing , everyone wants to be the first to go, before you realize chaos ensues and no one is going anywhere

INJUSTICE: We have a young man a 25 year old boy, gentleman, he is hungry, steals a loaf of bread, he gets dragged to court, just placed on remand because he doesn’t get good representation in court and for 5years, 7years, 10years he is on remand for a loaf of bread that he stole because he was hungry, worse than that he gets lenched by a mob and he is dead. On the other hand, someone steals, misappropriate, whichever word you want to use GH51.2 million and he is walking free.

DISHONESTY: if you give a bag of cement to a mason, ask him to do some cement blocks for you and you ask him, how many cement blocks can you do for me out of a bag of cement, and he said 25 and for those of you who build, you know roughly how many cement blocks you going to get, so he delivers on 25 blocks only that you don’t know that he used half the amount of cement, the other half is on his private project somewhere else.

Now you can get away with that if you do two bedroom house, you can get away with that pretty much, by the time you get to the level of Melcom Plus (supermarket) it gets pretty dangerous, risky, we’ve all seen it happened.“Funtunfunanfun Denkyem funanfun” won yefunu bom nanso wo didi aa wopre, efirise aduani no de eni enum ntwitwie”. The interpretation of that is “Siamese crocodile joined at the belly, common interest, if they eat, it doesn’t matter who eats, they will both be full but there is a struggle for one to eat over the other because of personal interest. NDC, NPP Verses GHANA.
Somebody has to take it, so they fight and they squabble over who should take it. “OBI ENKA OBI”, don’t do to another what you don’t want to be done to you. If you bit someone you going to get bitten, fair play and equity, respect for each other.

“ASEM YE TIA”, which refers to the fact that truth is brief, the brevity of truth, the precision of truth, the straight forwardness of truth, in piggy English we say “NO LONG TINS”. If someone is telling you, giving you an account of something that has transpired and it becomes long winded; you begin to suspect some kind of a lie going on there.

Somehow I realized that truth has everything to do with development. Let me show you how, in the case of the mason, who decides to use half of everything of cement you give him to fund his own project, what you going to find is that within the landscape or the jurisdiction within which we live will not be able to rise above 13 story’s or there about, and so check the highest building in Ghana.

Embedded within the fabric of who we are as a people we are challenged, but somehow espoused within the very fabric of what we believe which is our core value system which is the ADINKRA symbols are all these things, the things am telling you are the ADINKRA symbols, “Funtunfunanfun Denkyem funanfun” is ADINKRA symbol, . “OBI ENKA OBI”, is an ADINKRA symbol. All this things are espoused within our very, before my father, before your father, your grandfather, these things were there, so what has happened?

Overtime we seem to have moved away, there is yet one more ADINKRA symbol that inspires us and encourages us to go back for the values that we ones had. Does anybody know which ADINKRA symbol that is, am I in the right place, does anybody know what ADINKRA symbol that one is? SANKOFA.

How Did We Get Here??
As a country, some of our strengths are also our weaknesses…

The Way Forward…
There were cases in Ghana where people basically… it came with Ghana airways where ministers of state would pay 10% of full price for tickets. Funny thing is those who could actually afford the cost of travel the easiest, where the ones who would be given rebates, and sometimes free tickets. These were published in the papers – at least 15 years ago; we can dig it up… it’s a crazy situation that we find ourselves in. We need to become tougher as a people; more resilient.

Let’s talk a bit about education. I see education from different fronts – I look at it in terms of mass education; academic education; civic education – conscientizing people through civic movements and social rights; civil society groups, etc.

Mass education using media is critical and important for us as a country to move away from these challenges we’ve had. We need to look at the issue of teaching through cartoons for kids to pick up; movies – task the movie producers to come up with at least 2-3 movies per year that speak to the issues of good citizenship; ethics; etc. If we had all the producers putting together one movie per year speaking to these issues; we would be amazed to find the positive change – the masses of Ghana watch many Ghanaian movies – so a clear easy, and direct way to influence them.
Mass education from movie industry, music industry and TV and media.

Then we come to civic societies – clearly, first one is the National Center for Civic Education. They are mandated by government to do all the things we have been talking about. This institution has not been as effective because of limitations in financing. Our government needs to make this priority, directing our path – demonstrate priority to educate the masses, something that seems to have diminished in recent governments. It’s a major problem because if you don’t educate your citizenry, you have larger endemic problems in the future. What is a clear solution – the government needs to provide more consistent funding to this institution and be clear on the direction they want the country to go in. With funding, the institution also needs to be held accountable.

A second important set of institutions are Think Tanks, who play a key role in promoting civic education and responsibility. Examples in Ghana include Imani Ghana, The Institute for Economic Affairs. These institutions can put pressure on the powers that be, educate, and facilitate movements; serve as catalysts for change.

Educating the Educator: Essentially the educator transmits national policy and the spirit of the nation to our next generation. In this sense, teach training colleges, etc. are crucial and need to be well resourced to serve as effective catalysts. These educators themselves need to embody good principles such as good citizenship. Once you release those 100,000 teachers into the system that have been properly trained, you are sure of effective results. There also needs to be a self-sustaining system where good quality teachers are always available.
Starting Early: Education has to start early – civic education needs to occur right from Kindergarten. The Good Book says “train a child the way it should go, and it will never depart from it.” This saying holds true for our world and country today. Little norms like not throwing rubbish on the ground, urinating in public, etc. Unfortunately, a lot of teachers either close their eyes to these negatives or encourage them. Teachers are very influential to children, and today’s child is so smart that they would come back to their homes and explain to their parents what they have learnt, what can and cannot be done.

Implementing, Enforcing…
There should be punitive measures; there should be punishments for people that don’t follow the rules. If as a country, we all accept that we are going a certain way, and doing the opposite leads to certain repercussions, we will not need the government to enforce the rules; citizens themselves will take over to do the job.

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