GHANA: OF JET PLANES AND BRANDING CONFERENCES

Posted on October 2, 2010

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On September 22, I posted “Ghana: Aid and the Poverty Games”. I tried to make the point that Ghana will only change when Ghanaians take responsibility for their own futures. It’s homegrown solutions that will make the difference. Things will get worse before they’ll get better. Why? Because the political will is not here. The so-called war on poverty will only start when the aid stops and things get so terrible something will have to be done…by Ghanaians!

I’m not alone in this thinking. On September 23rd, Cameron Duodu, Ghanaian journalist, writer and, commentator had an article published in Pambazuka News: Pan-African Voices for Freedom and Justice entitled “Africans must not rely on the so-called Millennium Goals”

Duodu puts meat on the argument:

“What this situation tells every government in Africa is that they must understand, even more clearly than before, that we in Africa are our own saviors and that we should stop spending money on stupid things, such as purchasing luxury aircraft for presidential flights, while our children are dying from curable diseases, or from sheer malnutrition.

I noticed that recently precious money was expended in Ghana to hold a conference to ‘brand Ghana’. Even as the conference was taking place, a correspondent who visited Ghana five years ago went back to see the progress that had been made since his last visit. He chose to visit a little girl who was born exactly five years ago.

He met the girl, Hannah Klutsey, running from her family’s single-room house with tears in her eyes. A mouthful of bread had lodged in her throat and her eyes were bloodshot and bulging.

Her mother, Mary, dropped the bundle of firewood she had carried into the dusty compound and rushed to the huge plastic water pot in front of their ramshackle kitchen. She came back with a plastic cup of water, which Hannah gulped down. Only later, when the youngster was recovering on her mother’s knee, did they notice the mosquito larvae at the bottom of the cup, ‘half a dozen wormlike creatures writhing in the water’.

‘The pot must have been left open for mosquitoes to lay eggs in the water,’ said the mother, whose immediate concern was that her only daughter, who had recently recovered from severe skin rashes, could fall ill again. ‘She survived her recent sickness by miracle: another illness could kill her,’ said the girl’s father. There is no running water in Kpobiman, the poverty-stricken community outside Accra in which the family live. Like most of their neighbours, the household use water from a shallow bore hole. ‘Others are forced to draw water from stagnant pools, where germs and parasites are abundant.’ Added the correspondent: ‘The water is so bad you can’t imagine this community is just a stone’s throw from the capital city of Ghana, Accra.’

Need I say that if the money used yearly to send delegations to listen to sweet words at the UN (sleep through them would be a more accurate description of what happens) had been used to improve life in the village visited by the correspondent, he would have contributed to ‘branding’ Ghana as a country in which progress is being made, not as one where life is getting worse for some people. Oh, and by the way, that type of ‘branding’ would not have cost the Ghanaian taxpayer a single penny.”

And Duodu makes a full four coarse meal of it in his article “Of Branding Ghana and the millennium goals” that appeared in the Ghanaian Times of September 27th.

http://news.myjoyonline.com/features/201009/52827.asp

Ghana's new US$37 m Presidential Jet

Note: A couple of days after the above article appeared, Ghana’s brand new presidential jet arrived in Ghana. Price tag US$37 m.

HEY, DONOR COUNTRIES, ANYBODY WANT TO BUY A PRESIDENTIAL JET AT COST. THE GOVERNMENT OF GHANA COULD ALLEVIATE A LOT OF POVERTY IN GHANA WITH THE MONEY! THE ONLY HITCH IS THERE IS A PORTRAIT OF PRESIDENT MILLS EMBEDDED IN THE INTERIOR WOODWORK. ON THE OTHER HAND, IT WOULD MAKE A GREAT TALKING POINT ABOUT AN EVEN GREATER TURNING POINT….

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