Those who read the few circulated copies dismissed it as the most unscholarly of work. Its shoddiness alone put many fine souls away. But he was undaunted. He managed to penetrate the web of security at the Soviet embassy, got an audience with the Ambassador and presented his paper.
Few days later, he received a call. The Politburo had smiled on his thesis with approval. He was given a scholarship to study in the
Half way through his studies, he was invited to a meeting by the KGB. He flunked his lie-detector test so badly that the KGB quickly arranged to have him degreed and sent back to
Nkrumahism was in vogue when he returned. Koji Jubanga wasted no time in declaring his allegiance to the new order. He labored for three weeks to produced another thesis bombastically-titled: ‘Osagyefoism: The Historical Connectivity of Black Consciousness through the Ages: From Kam (
He was amply rewarded for his efforts.
As a survivalist, he managed a stint with the Busia regime. He equally charmed is way into Acheampong’s Unity Government - producing academic thesis suffused with hard-to-read scholarly jargons to support Acheampong’s brain-dead ideas.
During the Revolution of 1979, he tried to worm his way into the new regime. The new leaders were not too impressed - if only because the young military officers couldn’t make a head or tail out of his dense thesis. The security check they ran on him sealed his fate.
For several years our learned scholar was in limbo. When the government changed gear and embraced the IMF, Koji Jubanga saw his chance and plunged head-on to pluck it. He labored day and night for three months to produce another grandiloquently-titled thesis: ‘Market-Economy - The Natural Order of Economic Determinism, Personal Self-Sufficiency, National Self-Determination, Cooperative Multilateralism, Inter-Global Dependency and the end of Bolshevik Socialism.’ He took it to a top Desktop Graphic Designer at Osu where it was impressively polished up.
The IMF and their trumpeting quangoes needed a true believer to sell their ideas. Koji Jubanga was willing, for a fee, to become the Apostle of the new order. He presented his paper which wowed the big-wigs of the IMF. They made him a consultant - salaries and perks to be paid in dollars. Professor Jubanga, like most new converts, became a zealot.
I ran into him at the Commonwealth Hall at Legon. He had delivered an impassioned, lukewarmly-received address at another of those endless World Bank Conferences on poverty in
“Nice speech.” I lied after cornering him.
“Thank you, my friend. I am glad that some of us are beginning to see the light.”
“Light?” I wondered.
“Yes, some of us are turning around to jettison our ancient mind-sets, however difficult, and recognizing the universality of the simple concepts I tried to elucidate. You see, the problem is that some of us are so wired to old ideas that we refuse to see reason even when it is thrown in our faces. Things simply cannot continue the way they were. We have to join the rest of humanity in embracing the forces of the market. It is then, and only then that we can truly join the rest of humanity. There is no hope for us if we want to get out of our ignorant-engendered poverty. The rest of humanity are marching triumphantly with the trend, so should we. No one is going to wait for us, no one! Historically, no country has got out of its economic mess and mass-poverty without obeying the principles of market forces. You see, if you look round you, the rest of the world are registering impressive economic growth. It is only
"I see.” I said, not sure of what I saw.
Professor Jubanga cleared his throat and bellowed: “There are still a lot of our folks who believe that it is the business of government to continue to pour money into useless white-elephants. They believe that because the government was subsiding things four decades ago is enough reason to continue the wastage. You see."
“Are we not mixing facts up with fictions here, professor?”
Professor Jubanga showed his displeasure by baring his teeth at me, “What do you mean? Who’s mixing facts with fictions?” He demanded, showing me an angry snarl.
“I don’t mean to be insulting, professor, but you seem to be lurching from point to point without actually tying them together. For a feeble-minded person like me, it all sounds so empty, even if grandiloquently so. Shall we begin with this market force thing, what exactly are we talking about?”
Convinced that I was not trying to put him down or prove to be his intellectual equal, the professor showed a benevolent smile at my humility.
“Yeah, I agree that it is rather difficult to render a simple definition. We are talking about an economy whereby the state [represented by the government] has relinquished the commanding heights to private entrepreneurs. In contrast to our system whereby the government is playing the magician - conjuring up things, a market economy is controlled solely by the forces of the market. The beauty of it is that it is the only economics that does not need to be taught to anyone. It is so natural that every human being understands it. The main argument in its favor is that every country that embraced the principles of market forces is registering economic growth while those who refused to obey its laws are locked in their doldrums. Do you understand?”
“Hmm...” I said simply. I wanted the professor to continue with his passionate analysis.
Professorial baritone boomed, “You see. We have to work very hard (I can see that) to sell the ideas to our rather skeptical compatriots. Our people have to see reason. We have to join the rest of mankind in their triumphant march into prosperity...”
“You seem to be doing just fine.”
He misunderstood my sarcasm. I meant that he was looking after himself - the Oriental silk shirt, the Gucci shoes and the gold Omega. Not too bad for someone working hard to sell ideas.
“Thank you. Where was I?”
“You were telling me how you want our people to march into prosperity. But are the arguments for the so-called market forces not specious? Actually sir, I think that the arguments you just offered are outright lies.”
The professor’s mouth flew open and he’d problem closing it. It was as though I’d slapped him.
“What,” he cried in a non-professorial tone.
“I thought we’re on the same side!” The way he looked, I hope that he doesn’t rupture a blood-vein.
“It depends on what side we are talking about. When people argue that countries and regions have been developed by market forces, they either do not know what they are talking about or they are simply telling lies. If, as you pointed out, it means the government getting out of the commanding heights of the economy, I’ll say that it is only in
“Coming to Europe, we have to ask the pertinent question: could anyone who studies the history of the Industrial Revolution in Europe affirm that
“What do we have in
Few years ago, we were told that democracy is the only way forward. We organized elections and put western political models in place. Our economies nose-dived. Those who are dictating to us went back to their laboratories and divined that free-market is our only salvation. We took to SAP the way dogs took to bones. For over a decade we have taken every prescription they proffered.
The professorial gave me a withering look, glance at his watch. His professorial irritation was unmasked. “The problem with all your analyses is that you proffer no single solution. With communism gone, what is the alternative? What alternatives are you offering?”
“I offer none because I have none. I have no solution to
“The one factor I see in every country that has developed economically is that the people have great faith and confidence in themselves. The European in their heyday believed that they have a mission in the world. The same with the Americans - they are fervent nationalists. ‘I am proud to be an American; Most of us are. Our patriotism is fierce, if often quiet.’ - Robert J. Samuelson, Newsweek, March 11, 1996, p.2. Whatever their ideological orientation and political persuasion, Americans believe in the ‘American Dream,’ and they want nothing but to make their country the pre-eminent country in the world. We find the same among the Asians. The Japanese, the Chinese are nationalists to the point of xenophobic. The Koreans believe that they too can do. The slogan put up by the giant Samsung conglomerate on their headquarters sums it up. It simply says, ‘Koreans can do.’
“I have never listened to so much utter bunkum in my life. You have no answers to our problems, and about the only thing you do is pour scorn on those who have. You can’t be serious when you opined that the economic problems will be solved if Africans become xenophobes.
I elected to ignore his pun, “I think that we are getting the wrong answers because we asked the wrong questions. To begin with,
“So you think that our problem is lack of sufficient analyses? You couldn’t have been more wrong, my friend. As Martin Luther King jr. put it, we have even become paralyzed by our analysis. What more is there to analyze?”
“We have become paralyzed by analyzing the wrong things. Why can’t we ask ourselves why we are sentencing our best brains into economic exiles and then turn around to import expensive ‘experts’ from Euro-America whom we pay in dollars? Why are we not asking how the Israelis manage to get our diamonds, add some values to it and export it to
“The sad truth, the only one I can see is that we are poor not because we are not practicing free-trade or not obeying the principles of market forces. We are poor only because we have abandoned all hope to help ourselves. With child-like helplessness we have put our faith into the hands of foreigners. Our confidence is so battered that we think that we need to be continually led. Africans are poor because foreigners are mis-managing our affairs. No country has been developed by foreigners, however benevolent, and none shall ever be. We can make that Femi’s second principle...”
The professor cut me short, “What we see here are lots and lots of criticism, none of them constructive. We have embarked on a new course, why are you impatient to see the germinating results?”
“Unless you’re into some esoteric particle physics experiment, three decade is long enough time to see some result of your experiment? When are we going to start to see the benefits you painted for us? When are we going to enjoy the paradise you pictured for us? We have fulfilled our part of the bargain, when are you going to deliver on yours? When are the promised investment going to start coming. If you are honest, sir, won’t you agree that the whole thing boils down to some Juju economics?”
“Juju Economics.” The professor wondered.
“Former President Bush lambasted Reaganomics as ‘Voodoo Economics,’ I’ll call ours Juju Economics because it was premised on the same false assumptions. We have decimated our middle class, SAPped our poor class with the hope that the rich will invest more to trickle down. This hasn’t happened. Our professionals are cleaning toilets in Euro-America; some of our poor masses are selling Korean dog-chains on the highways, others drinking and smoking away their lives, the rest are roaming our streets with lynching intentions. Instead of putting their tax breaks into productive investment, the rich people simply build more houses for themselves, buy more Pajeros, acquire more mobile phones and go on overseas holidays with their girl-friends. The foreign investors, those who, we were told, will deliver us to the gates of heaven are not investing in any productive projects in our country. They are only excavating our minerals and shipping them raw to their countries. The Arabs and the Asians are only building night clubs and gambling halls, turning more and more of our women into whores. The Euro-Americans are building fast- food joints and Soft-drink (they say) Bottling companies, turning us into western junks consuming junkies.
“I have a big ax to grind with our intellectuals. They’ve failed us!” I cried, vibrating with passion.
“Look,” I shouted, trembling with emotion, “What do they do except re-hash what Euro-American scholars are saying. Are they giving us original thoughts? I don’t want to get personal, but intellectual prostitutes like yourself are our biggest problems. The job of intellectuals is to help generate original ideas to suit the peculiarities of their societies. What are African intellectuals doing? They either run away to Euro-America and rail against the inadequacies at home or stay at home and become prostitutes. If by tomorrow the IMF and the World Bank should divine that SAP has, after all, being an unmitigated disaster, I bet that you’ll find yourself singing the new chorus with the same calenture.”
“That’s not fair,” the professor said dejectedly.
I responded sharply, “What is not fair is your painting your personal comfort in patriotic halo and confusing your own happiness with our national well-being.”