“Colo mentality e be sey, dem don release you now, but you never release yourself.” – Fela Anikulapo-Kuti
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” Bob Marley
“All emancipation is from within. That is to say, real emancipation. As a man thinketh so is he.” Marcus Mosiah Garvey
In the article, “Another African Liberation Day,” I wrote, among other things, “Had John Moses Browning the famous American inventor of firearms been a Ghanaian, he would have rotten in jail thanks to our neo-colonial mentality which punishes inventions and manufacture fifty years after we hoisted our so-called independence flag. Among Mr. Browning better known inventions was the Colt .45-caliber M1911 pistol, a semiautomatic popular handgun that was the standard sidearm for U.S. military personnel until the early 1980s.
The American government supported Mr. Browning with patents and contracts to supply the US Armed forces. That was a government that encourages innovations, inventions and manufacturing. That was a government that knew a great deal when it sees one.
There are many John Brownings in our Ashanti and Volta regions who will never become rich or famous. They will continually live in fear of persecution by our neo-colonial government which continues to spend substantial amount of scarce income on importing arms and ammunition instead of encouraging our local artisans to perfect their trade.
If it made magnificent sense to the colonialists to ban our people from weapons manufacturing, what informed our own government logic to dissuade our own people from doing it?
OK, Ok, weapons and ammunitions are dangerous, blah, blah, blah. But we are spending our own money to buy them when produced by other people.
It is not only capitalist American that knows how to take care of its own. Mikhail Kalashnikov was a Russian who designed the world famous and reliable AK-47 rifle that bears his name, and is beloved by armies all over the world. If He had been born Ghanaian, police harassment would have sent Mr. Kalashnikov to early grave.
Today, Mr. Kalashnikov invention is among the best known Russian export. Vodka, the distilled liquor is another great Russian export what enjoys government support.
The colonialists, to protect British distillers, banned our people from distilling their own drink. Our folks nicknamed their liquor ‘akpeteshi’ (literally hide to drink) and continue to manufacture it illicitly.
Fifty years after our so-called independence, those leading us lack the vision to make akpeteshi into a lucrative brand which, given its folkoric history, should be an easy thing to do. We have departments of chemistry at our universities which should have been charged with perfecting the distillation of our akpeteshi to bring it up to world standard. The one million or so Ghanaians living outside our shores would have provide very ready market for their home brew.
Many of our traditional medicines also required to be soaked in liquor; another niche market!
In Gomoa Mpota, a village close to our national capital, Accra lives a man whose technological prowess can rival that of either Mr. Browning or Mr. Kalashnikov. Yours truly has visited the technological village Apostle Kwado Safo has built and I can attest to some of the truly wonderful things full-blooded Ghanaians are building there.
Instead of getting encouragement, our western educated elite, well versed in theoretical knowledge that is totally bereft of any practicality continue to sniff at the man and his inventions.
Let these robed academics with all their fanciful Ph.ds tell us what innovations of theirs is currently making life easier for any Ghanaian. Of course, they know all the theories, but the colonial education stuffed into their brains have made them totally USELESS to their societies.
India got its independence in 1947, just ten years before our beloved Ghana. But while India is today counted among the up-coming world powers, we have sunk lower into an abyss.
Sixty three years after gaining her independence, India is a global technological powerhouse with expertise that cut right across the whole spectrum of science and technology.
Indian scientists have successfully launched satellites; they have built inter-continental ballistic missile. Indian software engineers are the best in the world. And India’s pharmaceutical prowess is globally recognized.
Today, India is a first rate military, political and economic power and the country is far ahead of her former colonial master, Great (?) Britain.
Fifty years after we gained our own independence, our newspapers are still full of news of whether or not we should ban the importation of used underwear! Our media are still busy debating whether or not it was right to ban the importation of unwholesome turkey products! We still cannot raise the level of political discussion beyond bandying insults and calling one another zoological names!
Fifty three years after we regained our freedom, we are still begging our ex-slavers and colonialists for economic aid.
It is galling sometimes to see how unserious we really are in this country. How on earth do we want the rest of the world to look at us when the major news in our land is whether or not we should be adorning ourselves with discarded cloths from Euro-America! Wherein lies our sense of shame when our men can come on TV and proclaim to the world that they like their wives to wear second-hand panties and bras?
At Independence, the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru advised his people to go naked if they are not capable of making their own cloths. He also told his people to trek if they cannot build their own cars.
For years, Indian leaders wore made-in-Indian dresses the most famous of what is known as the Nehru Jacket. And until few years ago, Indian officials including the Prime Minister drove around town in funny looking cars made in their country.
We are, of course, familiar with the material condition of the father of the Indian nation, Ghandhi, who made medieval monks looked positively decadent.
The post-independence leaders in India believed in themselves and, above all, they believed in their country. They reposed confidence in their own people and believed in carrying them along in their quest for nation-building. They knew that their country was once great before the perfidious albinos came to colonized them. They also knew that they could brush off the yoke off colonialism and redefine themselves. They dedicated themselves to reconstructing their lives that were shattered by the colonialists.
Post-independence Indian leaders did not begin political life by looking at their country the way a general look at a conquered territory whose wealth must be looted with haste. They didn’t award themselves fantabulous salaries and emoluments to world cripple their nation’s economy. They didn’t go for foreign loans to build a presidential palace. They didn’t allocate give themselves fantastic loans to buy four-wheel jeeps.
With the exception of the Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, we have had no leader who believed in himself or in his capacity to be an agent of positive change in transforming Ghana for the better. And the truth be told, no Ghanaian leader since Nkrumah have put the interest of the common people of Ghana far above his comfort. His enemies might deride him all they could, but the man simply did not steal Ghanaian money for his personal use. And no leader has since him come out with any blueprint on how the national development agenda can be moved forward.
Sadly since his demise, we have been saddled with so-called leaders who continue to treat their own country like a conquered territory whose paltry wealth must be looted with abandon. None of them have a clue on how to move the nation forward.
Our last president went all the way to India to borrow money in order to build a presidential palace. A better investment would have been to borrow the money, invest it to build (like I suggested) a rail link from Accra to Kasoa and use the generated income to build whatever palace we fancy. Today the palace, a white elephant project if you ask me, is sitting there not fully used whilst they tell us that more money (to be borrowed) is needed to upgrade it to presidential levels!
Is it not time we ask ourselves if we are really serious at all?
At the end of the day, our ex-president pat himself on the back for a job well done, crafted for himself a golden chain to go with a national honor he conferred n himself – a la Emperor Bokassa. To crown it all, he had his cronies award him an ex-gratia that would have brought tears of joy to the face of an Arabian potentate.
I say that it is time we start to express strong outrage about the way and manner our so-called leaders in Africa continue to mess up our lives. Whilst the pictures of starving Africans continue to adorn UN pamphlets on hunger, our leaders are among the fattest cows around. While many Gabonese are starving, their new insane ruler reportedly splashed over a US$100 million to buy a mansion in France.
Instead of using our god-given resources to feed and clothe us and use them to develop our economies, our leaders continue to connive with multinationals who continue to loot these resources at thieving prices.
Could it really be true that the contract the former government signed gave oil companies the right to export our CRUDE OIL for twenty years while our own refinery will rely on imported crude? We should demand urgent answer to this very pertinent question.
Let no one fool us about any market economy nonsense, no economy has ever been developed without strong state support or intervention.
It was an American President (Truman) who said that the business of government is business. It is only in Ghana, nay Africa, where we are daft enough to believe the lies the apostles of globalization are peddling about a mirage called Market Forces.
The truth of the matter is that governments all over the world have always intervened to support national economies. It is only in Ghana that we allow our economy to go waste in the name of market forces. When the Financial tsunami hit the West, we see western governments pressing their printing presses into overdrive in order to shore up their failing banks. We are told that they are too big to fail!
In the aforementioned piece, I mentioned Kalashnikov and Browning as inventors that were helped by their governments. I say that the government of Ghana should do the same for the Apostle at Mpota.
Apostle Kwado Safo, no matter what we think of his religion or his tribe or his politics is a strategic national asset and should be treated as such.
It is time we realize how far behind we are in relation to other societies. It is also time we start to do the concrete things that would allow us to join the rest of humanity in mastering science and technology. The foremost issue in the world today is technology. It is those who master it that are controlling the world today as they will also control the future. The simple truth is that we are doomed if we fail to join the rest of the world.
We can dance all we want because oil has been discovered in our shores. But verily, verily I say, unless we master the technology of exploration, extraction, refining and the logistics of distribution, we are going to be nothing more than bit players.
Already, our ex-president (mentioned above) has revealed that he signed a contract that will give us an insulting 10% of our oil wealth. It means that those who came with their machines to extract our oil will garner a whopping 90% of the revenue.
And we say that slavery and colonialism is over!
Specifically, the government should begin by contracting the Apostle as a Consultant to the Ministry of Science and Technology. Scientific and technological innovations are not pushed by book-long, jacket and tie theoreticians esconded in cozy, air-conditioned offices.
Bill Gates built his Microsoft Corp. into the world’s largest technological company without earning a college degree. Microsoft’s rival. Apple Inc. was founded by two undergrads that tinkered in a garage.
Our Apostle is at Gomoa Mpota building cars and electronic gadgets, and I say the least we can do is for the government to come and make him part of a national committee of science and technology. If there is none, one should be created immediately with the remit to give us a roadmap on how we want to participate in the world of science and technology.
It is said that failure to plan is akin to planning to fail. Our founding president recognized this when he started with his Five-Year plans. If we want to start building bicycles in Ghana, we have to start planning how to go about it.
Luckily the Apostle has already proven that he is a doer. I do not have a figure on how much we spend yearly on buying vehicles for our military and para-military organizations. But with a good plan and strong government support there is no reason why within five years these organizations should not be equipped with Made-in-Ghana vehicles. If we put our minds to it, there is no reason why our children should not be riding Made-in-Ghana bicycles to school within two to three years. The multiplier effect will resound throughout our economy.
It is time we reconnect to our past and remember that we were doing things before the slavers and the colonialists dastardly intrusion into our lives.
Our ancestors built the pyramids in Sudan and Egypt; they built the stone cathedras in Ethiopia; they built Great Zimbabwe. I direct readers to get the new BBC series on The Lost Kingdoms of Africa – a very insightful documentary about the proud legacy our forebears left for us.
The future they say belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. I say that it is time we in Ghana/Africa also start to dream big.
The naysayers who ask where we are going to get the money from to do all these things should ask themselves where those who did it yesterday and those that are doing it today got their own money from. No one came to the world with a pesewa; everything was created here.
It is time we start crafting out own future. That would only be possible when we compel our leaders to give us vision and direction and to try and live at the same level they set for the rest of us.